The Nurturing Ways These 7 Women Approach Self-Mothering
For many of us, the act of mothering occurs in many aspects of our lives and relationships regardless of whether we have children. We birth ideas, we create spaces for others to thrive, and we show up as the best versions of ourselves for the benefit of those around us. It’s no wonder we feel burned out and in dire need of TLC. Our needs for guidance and support don’t disappear the moment we enter adulthood, though. And in a society that encourages us to give everything we have to our responsibilities, it’s even more important to prioritize what we need in order to live our best lives.
Through self-mothering, we have the unique ability to fill our cups in a way that only we can. It is an intentional, selfless act that is rooted in nurturing and advocating for our needs. The route we take may differ from those around us and may look different depending on the season we’re in. But at its core, mothering ourselves is a radical act of self-love that we’re all deserving of.
The women in this feature explore their journey to self-mothering and share the lessons they’ve learned (or had to unlearn) along the way.
*Some responses have been edited for clarity.
Writer, Speaker, Editor
Courtesy of L’Oreal Thompson Payton
Self-mothering is about showing yourself the love you need, want, and deserve, even if–especially if–you may not have experienced how you would like to be loved by the mother figure(s) in your life. I observed my mom lean hard into that Strong Black Woman trope and I certainly adopted some of that behavior. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve decided that’s not for me and that’s not the legacy I want to pass down to my own daughter. I am all about embracing softness and courageous vulnerability. I allow myself to cry. I apologize when I hurt people. I’m no longer interested in appearing as if I have it all together. There are no gold medals for pretending to be perfect.
Physically I’m very much into working out, which fills my mental, emotional and spiritual needs–especially Chelsea Jackson Roberts’ gospel flows, slow flows, and restorative yoga classes on Peloton. It’s interesting because I’ll say I don’t believe in 'snapback culture,' etc., and yet I judge my body for not being the same as it was before birth. I’m having a hard time accepting my postpartum body. Of course, I love that it birthed a healthy, happy baby girl. But I don’t love not physically feeling and looking like the old me. So I’m working on that and I remind myself that my daughter literally does not care and that an extra 10-15 pounds don’t make me a different person. I’m still the same LT.
I’m also an avid journaler and I like to meditate when I get the chance. I used the Expectful app when I was pregnant and postpartum. I also love Insight Timer. I have to pour into myself and fill my cup first and foremost so I’m able to pour into others. Nurturing myself has gotten easier with time. I find self-care activities easier to do than the 'real work,' i.e. setting boundaries, saying “no” without explanation or apology, and putting my needs ahead of others as a recovering people-pleaser. I’m working on it in therapy and my husband and sister are constantly reminding me to do less and stop bending over backward for others.
To other women beginning your self-mothering journey, be gentle with yourself. Social media will have you believe you have to complete your journey overnight and that the path is linear. Healing is not linear. There will be relapses. There will be stumbles along the way. What’s important is that you pick yourself up each time. It’s about replacing the negative inner critic with a voice that’s going to encourage you along the way.
Founder + Editor-in-Chief of Resolute Magazine
Courtesy of Danielle Celaya
Self-mothering is taking the time to realize that I have needs, those needs deserve to be met, and that I don’t have to deal with anyone who undermines or minimizes those needs. Self-mothering looks like showing up for myself in all the ways my mother couldn’t. Not because she did not want to, but because she likely (as I’ve learned being an adult) did not know how. My mother had to, unfortunately, grow up fast. That leaves a massive learning curve when you have children of your own but did not have much of or a safe childhood yourself.
Growing up, she provided space for my aunts and other women in her life that she trusted to be there in ways that she couldn’t. I’ve learned it isn’t uncommon in the Black community for Black women to be there for everyone and people rarely if ever, show up for us. I’ve seen that with my mom, my aunts, and my grandmother figures. And they still give and show up with love, but it’s not for the people who continuously hurt and harm them. So self-mothering can be walking away, but also having uncomfortable conversations because not every situation is cause for just walking away.
Self-mothering is also making space for the things you enjoy. When I was 16, my brothers gave me my first journal. I started taking journaling seriously when I was a 20-year-old intern in Washington, D.C. From there, I’ve stayed fairly consistent. Journaling has always provided a way for me to fully get my feelings out of my head, and sometimes, my heart. Through therapy, and learning from Nedra Tawwab, Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, Tricia of The Nap Ministry, and Dr. Mariel Buque, I’ve learned to just feel my feelings. For a time I would “save them for later” or repress them. I’ve done a lot of work to not do that.
Another thing I do to meet my needs is read. I read books I want to enjoy and if I don’t enjoy the book I’m reading, I don’t finish it. I spend time with people who I can be myself around and speak candidly with. I visit places and do activities I want to do even if a friend can’t go with me. When I need to sit down or just sleep, I let myself, and I don’t judge myself for it. I always have candles around because it’s a simple way to care for myself during busier weeks.
Nurturing myself has become easier with time. I had to realize regardless of anyone else, I had to show up for myself. When I catch myself going through a rough patch and not caring for myself, I pause to make sure I do. I’ve canceled plans with people just because I noticed I hadn’t shown up for myself in a while. The ones that care, understand. The ones that don’t, I no longer speak to.
I would encourage another woman who is beginning her self-mothering journey to give herself grace. Deprogramming from all the ways that we, especially Black women, are expected to show up in this world takes so much time. Give yourself grace, and be compassionate toward yourself.
PA-C, Mom & Lifestyle Blogger
Courtesy of Onyi Azih
I see self-mothering as nurturing yourself with compassion and kindness through whatever healing looks like to you. To bring calm to what may have once been a chaotic spirit. Self-mothering reminds us that we are worthy of love, care, and respect. Initially, I struggled with not seeing culturally-acceptable examples of self-nurturing. Then came mom guilt which felt like a cloud I couldn’t get away from.
Something as simple as spending alone time away from my kids would bring on the guilt. But now, I recognize I can nurture myself in whatever way feels right to me. I know that mom guilt is a liar. Trying my best makes me a good mother. It took therapy, reaching out to my village for help with the kids, remembering how much I wanted my mom to be happy, and knowing my kids want the same for me. Self-mothering isn’t selfish. In order to fully give your kids permission to love themselves, you have to show them how.
"Self-mothering isn’t selfish. In order to fully give your kids permission to love themselves, you have to show them how."
I had a strained relationship with my mother in my younger years. I remember my most persistent struggles were with anxiety and anger. These were feelings I could have processed sooner if I had examples of how to nurture myself, or how to set and uphold boundaries. More often than not, I grew up witnessing my mom caring for others more than herself. I watched her struggle to set boundaries for herself that would have allowed her to self-advocate. Though, of course, that’s what we were taught motherhood is all about, right?
It doesn’t come as a surprise considering that she was the eldest daughter and an immigrant raising five children in a foreign country. She did the best with what she knew, but what she may have missed out on was teaching me how to nurture myself. Since it’s easy to experience burnout with everything that adulthood piles on my plate, I started getting very serious about my first love, yoga, for my self-care needs. I practice it weekly, along with talking to a therapist when I reach those valleys that life inevitably brings us through. I’m also quick to speak positively about myself because there is so much life in the tongue.
Owner of Vinti Trunk
Courtesy of Anita Akinyemi
To me, self-mothering is how you choose to perform motherly actions for yourself. It’s making sure that I’m taking care of myself mentally, physically, and emotionally. The relationship I have with my mother has greatly impacted my life and shaped the way I care for myself. She’s always been there for me pushing me to do my best. In my younger years, I didn’t always like to hear her opinion if it wasn’t parallel to mine. However, I’ve grown up to learn that those opinions came out of concern and experience. My mother lost her mother as a teenager so seeing her as a motherless mother makes me grateful that I have her in my life to share her wisdom with me. In turn, I can share that wisdom with my own daughter.
Fulfilling my needs can be incredibly difficult because sometimes I feel there isn’t enough time in the day. My time set aside for rest dwindled significantly after becoming a mother so sometimes resting is the most simple action I take to care for myself. As for my emotional needs, I took the time to see a therapist and that was incredibly beneficial. I go to church weekly but I feel that my alone time with God, when I’m praying and listening to gospel music, really fulfills a lot of my spiritual needs.
Nurturing myself is not an easy task because I tend to put my needs last. Thankfully, I have a very supportive spouse that reminds me to take time for myself. I recently started working out again to give myself “me time” outside of doing things related to my business and household duties. When I schedule time for myself in my day it’s a lot easier for me to mother myself!
To another woman beginning this journey, I would simply say: don’t forget about yourself. Remember what makes you happy and try to set a schedule to make time for those things. That way you can continue to blossom.
Podcaster, Writer, Speaker
Courtesy of Earlina Green Hamilton
Self-mothering, to me, means to care for yourself like the woman who birthed you would. It is to put yourself first, nurture yourself, look after yourself, fight for yourself and make sure you want the best for yourself.
My mother was a single parent to triplets and two others. She did what she could to provide and establish routines. As a former police detective, she preached safety. “Always look around,” “be aware of your surroundings,” and “lock your doors immediately after getting in the car,” were just a few of her constant sayings. In her later years, she developed diabetes. I saw the toll it took on her body and spirit. Her diagnosis forced me to be aware of my body as I age and not take the gift of health for granted.
For self-care, I work out for my physical needs, journal for my emotional needs, and pray for my spiritual needs. I also don’t allow people to drain or take advantage of me. That’s a big one. Self-nurturing is a necessity so I don’t make excuses when scheduling time for myself. Whether I need a massage, Ayurvedic bodywork, lip wax, or some time at the gym, my husband and I get on the same page and schedule it. I believe that how I care for myself directly reflects how the world cares for me.
I would tell another woman who is beginning her self-mothering journey that she is responsible for herself. It’s no one else’s job to ensure you are adequately adjusted to our ever-changing and chaotic world. Be kind to yourself and look after yourself. Invest in books, people, and resources that constantly inspire you to think outside of your current circumstance. Always have goals for your body, mind, and spirit, and work daily to achieve them.
Owner of Grazing Boards By Chipo
Courtesy of Chipo Size
Self-mothering is the extra care I give myself to replenish my spirit and my soul as I journey through life. I mother myself in ways similar to how my mom raised me, but in different ways too. When I was growing up I used to think my mom was imperfect, I used to fight with her about countless things because she would force me to do things that I didn’t want to do. Now that I’m older, I’m in awe of her because not only do I realize she’s not perfect, she’s human.
She was always present as a mom. She was at every sports event I could remember. Always listened to what her children wanted and was a mediator while raising six girls under one roof. I only ever saw my mom relax on vacation. But at over 30 years old, I give myself so much grace. I carve out time for myself weekly or daily to decompress from the day. It could be in the form of drinking a glass of wine or going for a walk while listening to an audiobook or podcast. This is what I wish I saw my mom do more, but I’m glad I do it for myself.
I’m also truthful with myself and others about my struggles because I was always taught to be strong. I’ve struggled to find the softness. But as I mother myself, I’m learning that letting my guard down in the right presence is healthy. That is true strength. Nurturing others is easy for me because that’s what I’ve been taught to do and that’s what I grew up seeing. Nurturing myself is something I started during the pandemic when I was losing control of my emotions and feeling depressed.
"I’m also truthful with myself and others about my struggles because I was always taught to be strong. I’ve struggled to find the softness. But as I mother myself, I’m learning that letting my guard down in the right presence is healthy. That is true strength."
It was the first time in my life I was most vulnerable to the greatest changes in my life. I was used to being on the go. I didn’t take time to show up for myself and to rest. I started pouring into myself by doing things I wanted to do. I started playing tennis again and started saying no when I felt like I spread myself too thin. I started speaking kindly to myself and extending the same grace I so easily give others.
Our days can never be perfect–I think that’s the dream we’ve been sold from inception. But we can learn to be content in the hard times, while we learn to love ourselves a little more. Self-mothering might feel foreign at first but it’s one of the greatest and most beautiful journeys we will ever take.
Writer, Author, Mother, Creator
Courtesy of Ashley Chea
For me, self-mothering is healing, therapy, and self-reflection. Once that happens I feel like it becomes easier to create boundaries in all areas of life. You can honor your time, space, and emotional well-being without feeling guilty. Creating boundaries has always been my biggest barrier to nurturing myself. I feel so much better as an adult now that I’m not afraid to tell my mom and friends “no.” And because I never wanted anyone to leave me, I wouldn’t leave people or situations.
Therapy taught me that leaving is a form of self-care. It’s also a form of protection. So nurturing myself looks like me not engaging or partaking in anything that’s going to make me vibrate at a low frequency. Nurturing myself also includes working out for my mental and physical health. I have to work out and clear my mind–even if that’s a 20-minute walk outside. I also get my nails done. The world could be burning down and I’m going to get a mani-pedi before we meet the Lord. There is something about looking down at my feet and if they are crusty, it will make my life feel worse!
My mom has always taken care of herself and she taught me to care for myself. We didn’t have tons of money, so we never went to salons growing up. However, my mom always did our hair. She would sit us all on the porch and soak our feet and give us pedicures. She taught me that money didn’t have to get in the way of creating your own care. She taught me that health is the real wealth.
Becoming a mother has taught me to give myself grace. I realize how innocent my girls are by watching them love and live. Teaching them to be gentle with themselves has taught me to be gentle with myself, as well. We all deserve a soft life, and it’s never too late to make it happen for yourself. What I know for myself and what I want my girls to know is this: We can create the lives we want, and we don’t have to wait for someone else.
To another woman who is beginning her self-mothering journey: Go to therapy and learn your triggers. Learn what you’re holding on to from your past. Knowing why you do something helps you to learn what to let go of and what to hold on to. Also, don’t be afraid to spoil yourself. You deserved a childhood of love and protection. If you didn’t get it, now you can give it to yourself endlessly.
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Featured image courtesy of Chipo Size
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Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Janelle Monáe's Reveals The Real Reason Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Tuxedos
Singer and actress Janelle Monáe exemplifies how change can be a powerful catalyst for growth and transformation.
Monáe, who rose to fame in 2010 following the release of her debut album, The ArchAndroid, captivated fans' hearts with her powerful vocals, catchy tunes, and style. Around that time period, when various female artists were known to wear provocative ensembles on stage, the "Tightrope" songstress set herself apart by wearing her signature black and white suits and continued to do so for almost a decade.
In the later years of her career, after the release of her studio albums The Electric Lady in 2013 and 2018's Dirty Computer, many began to notice the shift in Monáe's artistry and fashion, which some widely praised.
Although the now 37-year-old rarely addressed the reason behind the transformation over the years, that would all change when Monáe sat down with radio personality Angie Martinez on her IRL podcast earlier this month.
During the interview, Monáe --who was promoting her latest album, "The Age of Pleasure"-- opened up about her mental health struggles, how she would cope, and why she chose to live in freedom.
Janelle On Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Suits All the Time
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
In the May discussion, the "I Like That" vocalist revealed she suffers from anxiety, which she claimed would occur around "winter to spring."
Monáe added that when she has her bouts with anxiety, she tends to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Further in the interview, the "Lipstick Lover" singer disclosed that her emotional eating habits caused a weight fluctuation and that she could no longer fit into the suits she once wore earlier in her career.
Monáe explained that even though she tried to diet and exercise to return to her smaller figure, she ultimately stopped and made peace with herself with the help of therapy because she acknowledged that she isn't the same person she was nearly a decade ago and shouldn't try to be even if it was a highly "celebrated" version.
"I'm petite, but it can get thick... When I couldn't fit them suits anymore, and I was like, 'Oh my God, what is going on?' I would be dieting, running, or exercising, trying to fit into [it]. I'm just like, 'No. No, we're here. This is where we are.' We [are] not about to be utilizing life trying to be an old version of ourselves. No matter how celebrated that version of me was. I'm here. I'm here," she said.
Janelle On Freedom
As the topic shifted to freedom and what that meant to Monáe, the "Primetime" vocalist shared that in this new era of her life, she enjoys it because she can boldly express herself however she wants and honor who she is as a person right now.
Monáe also revealed that she had found ways to become a better artist and the best version of herself because of her freedom.
"What is the new version of freedom? What does that feel like? That's usually when I feel the most free is when artistically, I can honor exactly who I am right now," she stated. "I feel most free as a human when I can honor exactly who I am right now."
Monáe's fourth studio album, The Age of Pleasure, is set to be released on June 9.
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