How To Stop Envying Your Favorite Celeb's Life
"Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but it tells the truth. You mostly envy those who have what you desire."—Susan Cain
Whether you quietly or openly envy a certain celebrity, while that's not exactly a healthy thing (more on that in just a sec), it's also not totally your fault. The media makes billions of dollars off of promoting the lives of people who may be rich and famous but, at the end of the day, are still just people.
Why do I say that it's not a good idea to be jealous of famous folks (or anyone for that matter)? Well, let's explore what envy and jealousy does to our health, for starters. One study reveals that it decreases the quality of our mental health while another states that it heightens stress, anxiety, passive aggression, depression and even causes us to age at a faster rate. Then there's what it does to us spiritually. An author by the name of Harold G. Coffin once said that "Envy is the art of counting the other fellow's blessings instead of your own." It's like telling God that he loves someone else more than you.
Oh, and the damage that jealousy and envy can do to one's self-image? Don't get me started. Why a lot of us will go to great lengths and expense to look like someone else is beyond me (an interesting roundtable discussion with Black men and women on this very issue is the 50-minute video "The Pressure to Be Curvy").
Unfortunately, we are so inundated (some might even say berated) by celebrity culture that, when a lot of us hear, "Live your best life", we automatically insert someone else's face rather than our own into our mental picture and personal standards.
But really—what kind of sense would it make for me to talk about how counterproductive to envy a celeb if I'm not going to at least try and provide some tips on how to break the toxic habit? If you know that you are tired to opening up your laptop or smartphone and wishing that you had the life—including love life—of someone you don't even know, here's how to get on the road towards changing all of that.
Factor in Their BackstoryHarley Quinn Problem GIF by HBO MaxGiphy
When it comes to this point, the first person who immediately comes to mind is the late and great Prince. Anyone who's watched Purple Rain before knows that it's a movie based, in part, on Prince's life; a life that was no cakewalk. Fantasia's story (Life Is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story), Tina Turner's past experiences in the classic What's Love Got to Do with It? and even the VH1 article "These Celebrities' Horrific Childhood Stories Will Make You Hug Your Parents Tightly" are all real-time examples of strength and triumph. They're also reminders that we shouldn't idolize anyone's life. For one thing, we only know a part of it. Plus, there are probably a ton of things that many of them would exchange all of the money and fame in the world to not have gone through if they could.
Remember Celebrities Only Post What They Want You to See
Definitely, one of my favorite Kev On Stage videos is when he was venting (or was it ranting?) about how much he hates the hashtag #relationshipgoals. He starts the video off by saying, "Not to be a jerk here guys, but I hate relationship goals. I hate the pictures. I hate the man leading the woman down to the beach. You don't know where they're going. He could be leading her down the path of destruction." Hilarious and indeed. He later says, "You know what real relationship goals are? Hand me some soap because I got in the shower and the soap was little and I couldn't get a good lather…I ran out of toilet tissue and 'cause I had more poop coming than I thought, can you grab it? And it smells awful in here and I shouldn't have had Chipotle, I know what Chipotle does." Kev's point?
The social media world is a mere fraction of what's really going on; some of it is not even as "real" as you think it is.
Listen, I used to do some social media branding for a few folks and when I tell you that their Instagram is very different than their real life? People would be floored if they knew what was really going on. Back in the day, folks had PR people who kind of "controlled" their image. Now there are filters, along with them deciding what part of their life they want to share or not. That's certainly their right, but as you're scrolling down their accounts, just know that the same kind of "editing" you're doing so that people will know more of the good than the not-so-good, celebs are putting 10 times more thought into what they are presenting on their IG and Twitter. (Well, at least most of them are.)
Ask Yourself If It’s Admiration or Jealousy That You’re Feelingthe real housewives of atlanta jealousy GIF by Bravo TVGiphy
Jealousy. It's so toxic and counterproductive. It reminds me of a quote that I once read by an author named Erica Jong—"Jealousy is all the fun you think they had." Preach.
Besides, jealousy is super unhealthy because there is research that points to the fact that it's rooted in low self-esteem and/or neuroticism and/or feelings of inadequacy. Not only does this mean that being jealous of someone is only making you feel worse about yourself, but the time that you're spending wishing you had someone—someone you probably don't even know and won't ever meet—else's life is the time that you could be working on developing your own gifts and talents, putting a life plan together and getting the relationship that you so deserve. Then you could start turning the jealousy that you're feeling into admiration. You could respect the accomplishments certain celebrities have made and use that as inspiration to do great things as well.
Not only that, but rap artist Lecrae once tweeted a great point about jealousy that all of us should keep close to heart; especially if your jealousy has you out here being a hater (or troller)—"Jealousy will have you gossiping about people you should be learning from."
Admiration is what fuels you. Jealousy is what drains you. Remember that.
Keep in Mind That Envy Is So Beneath You
The first step out of something that isn't serving you well is to admit that you are struggling in that particular area. Let's begin by tackling the difference between jealousy and envy. Some believe there is a clear distinction in the sense that if you're jealous, you're consumed with thinking that someone will take something (or one) that you already have while if you are envious, you're out here coveting what others have. Then there are those who think that envy is a more intense and destructive form of jealousy.
Personally, I think it's a little bit of Column A and a little bit of Column B. What I can promise you is if you don't get a hold of this green-eyed monster, in any form, it can start to take over your entire life. Next thing you know, you'll be out here being the living definition of the Mark Twain quote—"Man will do many things to get himself loved; he will do all things to get himself envied." In other words, since envied motivated you do/be/get more, you'll think that you need to be envied to stay motivated.
It's exhausting to be out here always wanting what someone else has and/or always trying to top the next guy; especially some guy who has no clue who you are. Those of us who grew up in church, we heard, at least a dozen times, that what God has for us is for us. Rather than spending/wasting hours each week looking at what celebrities have and envying them because of it, why not be grateful for what you have and figure out what else would complement your life and lifestyle instead? God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). He doesn't love you any more or less than anyone else. Trust that what he's got for you, he'll get to you. And what he has for someone else? The same points apply.
Know There Are Probably Things YOU Have That THEY Wantstrength confidence GIFGiphy
I know someone who is constantly comparing her physicality with famous women. She's constantly talking about how much better her life would be if she had hair like so-and-so or a shape like such-and-such. I'm not gonna give y'all the exact thing that I said because…that's not important (wink), but the gist was, "The very women you wish you looked like are always getting left by some dude. Clearly looks are not what holds a relationship together."
At the end of the day, all of us are just people. Some of us have more money or are more well-known, but we're all fallible and battle with insecurities. Believe it or not, there's a huge chance that if you sat down with your favorite celebrity and compared notes, there is at least one thing in your possession that they wish they had too.
A philosopher by the name of Peter Deunov once said, "You are jealous because you are unaware that everything you need is inside you." To that, I say, don't sell yourself short. All of us have things that someone wishes that they did. Celebrities are not exempt from this point.
Focus on Your Purpose, Not Others’
Before I started mostly writing in the relationships lane, I was an entertainment writer. A lot of the people I met? I can honestly say that I wish I never had because who and what I built up in my mind was so much better than the real thing. Don't get it twisted. Being famous is not automatically synonymous with being happy, polite or self-fulfilled. Anyway, if there is one takeaway that I got from most it's that putting time into one's purpose will always pay off.
I might be in the minority when I say this, but I think one of the reasons why a lot of people are envious of celebrities is because they aren't aware of and/or fully invested in their purpose. The reason why they aren't is because they aren't clear on what exactly their own purpose is (check out "5 Signs You Are Living Your True Purpose" when you get a chance). If they were, I'm not sure how much room jealousy and envy could take up in their world.
There are some celebrities that I dig. No doubt about it. But I'll be honest with you—my life is so full that there isn't a lot of time to be out here wanting what they have (or what they appear to have). I'm trying to maintain my own.
Your purpose is just as relevant as the next man and woman. Honor this fact by choosing not to envy anyone. Including a celebrity. Your purpose, your life in general, deserves so much more than that. So do you.
Featured image by Giphy
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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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Queen Latifah On Her Journey To Self-Acceptance: 'I've Been Trying To Maintain My Freedom To Be Me'
Actress and rapper Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens is defying societal standards by refusing to be confined in a box regarding her personal and professional life.
Owens, who has been a part of the entertainment industry for over three decades, is widely recognized for her empowering songs and the variety of acting roles she has obtained throughout her career, among other things. The list includes Living Single, Set It Off, Chicago --with which she earned an Oscar nomination-- Just Wright, Girls Trip, and most recently, The Equalizer series on CBS.
Owens is also very tight-lipped about her personal life. However, in 2021, The Last Holiday actress showed appreciation to Eboni Nichols, who is reportedly her partner, and their son Rebel after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.Since then, Owens has revealed why she doesn't want to be defined as anything but herself and how she maintains her sense of freedom. In a resurfaced video from theGrio Awards, Owens opened up about those topics when she accepted the Television Icon Award for her past contributions
In a clip uploaded on theGrio's Instagram account last week, Owens explained that she often had to fight to be herself because "the world" kept trying to put her in a box based on what society thought a woman should be.
"My whole life, I feel like I've been trying to maintain my freedom to be me. And the world is trying to put these things on me to stop me from being who I am," she said.
Further into the speech, Owens explained that although many would have their own opinion about her from what the media spews out, she would continue to be herself by wearing "beautiful gowns and dresses," playing in the dirt, participating in basketball games with men and loving who she loves because that's what makes her happy.
The Beauty Shop star also added that despite her celebrity status, she would continue to show respect for others because that's who she is as a person and how she was raised.
"So I wear these beautiful gowns and dresses because I want to because that's part of me. I play in the dirt. I play basketball with the boys because that's me,” she stated. "I love who I love because that's me. I love all of you who have supported me. I give you your respect. I don't have to be above you because that's me. I know me."
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