What Loving Yourself Actually Looks Like
Whitney said it, right? She told us that if we simply learned to love ourselves, what would ultimately happen is, we would achieve the "Greatest Love of All". But y'all, the more time I spend on this planet, the more I come to see that, one of the reasons why it's so hard to hit the mark, when it comes to all things love-related, is because you first have to define love in order to know how to do it…right and well.
Personally, I am a Bible follower, so The Love Chapter is certainly a great reference point. Let's go with the Message Version of it today:
"Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always 'me first,' doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies."—I Corinthians 13:4-8 (Message)
Yeeeah buddy. If some of us were really real with ourselves, based on this definition of love, we'd admit that we've got a ton of work to do when it comes to how we love other people. But what about when it comes to self-love? Since the Word also tells us to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39), what does it look like to bestow such a powerful emotion on our own being? How can we all make self-love a way of life?
This is something else that I'm kind of figuring out as life goes along. But as I'm becoming more and more intentional about loving me, I do know that the following 10 things have started to resonate in stronger, realer and more profound ways than ever. How do you check out on the following self-love checklist?
1. Self-Care Is an Absolute Must
If you've been hanging with us long enough, you know that we are BIG on self-care over here (see "5 Self-Care Gems To Keep In Mind On Your Professional Journey", "The Fundamentals Of Self-Care When You're Young, Black & Woke" and "Self-Care Isn't Supposed To Be Pretty"). The reason why we feel that self-care should be a top priority is basically found in the word itself. Care is all about consideration, affection, and regard. Since you're the one who you are around the most, why wouldn't you want to honor yourself in these kinds of ways?
I've got friends who will be the first to help someone else out but then they will turn around and feel guilty about getting a mani/pedi or a massage. While that might seem like humility on the surface, what it actually means is they think others should get more from them than they should give to themselves. That's not a sign of self-love; that's actually an indication that some internal love is lacking. There is nothing irresponsible, selfish, or unnecessary about self-care. If it's not already a part of your life routine, take this as a sign that it should be. Take it as a step towards loving yourself, that much more.
2. Your Intimate Circle Is Safe, Loving and Loyal
If you watched Sex & the City as much as I did back in the day, you might recall a scene where Carrie declared that she was a masochist. As she was talking about the constant roller coaster that was her and Mr. Big, she said, "He might be the one beating me, but I'm the one who keeps tying myself up." (Metaphorically-speaking, of course.) Oh, how I can relate! I tell my "love nieces" (young women who are family through love, not blood) and my goddaughters that the only thing worse than a bad boyfriend are bad platonic female friends. The. Worst. They will have you out here doing all of the work, questioning your value and never knowing exactly where you stand. In short, they will have you being your own masochist.
When you grow up around a certain amount of toxicity, you tend to believe that dysfunction is normal, no matter how much you loathe it. That's how a lot of us end up in friendships and relationships that also mean us no good; they feel familiar even though we know we deserve better. But the more you focus on you and less on "them", the more you are willing to release what doesn't model the kind of love that you desire in your life. That leaves room for people who are committed, trustworthy and safe. Yes, when you love yourself, your relationships reflect that love. There's no doubt about that.
3. You’re Not Addicted to Attention (Online or Off)
Although I'm not the biggest fan of the phrase "attention whore" ("whore" is a bit harsh, if you ask me), there is an article on Thought Catalog entitled "10 Signs You're A Social Media Attention Whore" that brings up some good food for thought. Some of its signs included buying followers, baiting shout-outs, pressuring your friends to like or comment on your posts, triggering folks and feeling like no picture is worthy of getting posted unless you don't have any clothes on in them.
Social media can be an awesome tool. Some of us wouldn't have been able to grow our brand or network at the level that we do without it. But it's one thing to use social media; it's another to be totally consumed by it (research reveals that 210 million people are social media addicts, by the way).
People who love themselves don't feel like the world is coming to an end if Instagram and Black Twitter were to shut down tomorrow. They can go a few days without putting up a selfie. They are able to go on social media fasts without having a nervous breakdown. And, when it comes to life, in general, they are not constantly conjuring up ways to get attention. They love themselves enough that all of the "extra" simply isn't necessary.
4. You Enjoy Spending Time Alone
On the heels of what I just said, another sign that you love yourself is you know how to be alone with you. Totally alone. That said, there's a married couple I know who hasn't been alone with one another, in their own house, for at least four years now. Whenever someone needs a place to stay, they let them stay at their home. While on the outside, that might appear to be altruistic, the couple also fights a lot, has a pretty sucky sex life, and the husband is ever rarely home. Now does it seem like a good thing? Sounds to me like the traffic in their house is a distraction from the cracks in their relationship. Single folks who don't know how to be alone may have cracks in their relationship with themselves.
People who always have to be at someone else's house or even at a club or in the mall, they could seem like an extrovert on the surface. But even healthy outgoing people will tell you that sometimes they prefer to recharge in the quiet and comfort of their own home.
The only people who don't really get how someone can spend a weekend at home without other folks being around are either the ones who've never tried it before or they are the ones who don't like, let alone love, themselves enough to sit in silence with their own thoughts. And you know what they say—"If you don't love you, why should you expect anyone else to?" I'll add to that and say, "If you don't want to spend intimate time with yourself, why should others seek it out?"
5. You Embrace Your Strengthens. You Know Your Weaknesses.
Where some people mess up in the self-love department is they lack self-awareness and/or self-compassion. This can manifest in all sorts of ways. One way is they may not know what their strengths and weaknesses are. As a direct result, other people are able to take advantage of the due to their lack of self-knowledge. For instance, I know that a strength of mine is how I give to others. A weakness of mine is not always being able to see a person's motives out of the gate. When I wasn't aware of this, I constantly found myself in codependent situations or giving more than I was getting in return. Now that I'm aware of my strength and weakness in this area, my discernment is much keener. Plus, I'm able to give more freely because I know the difference between giving to help a person out and giving to a friend who will hold me down in return.
Another benefit of knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are is you can manage your time more wisely. What I mean by that is this—a wise man once said that if you devote all of your time to trying to make your weaknesses better, you may end up only being "average" in those areas. But, if you spent that same amount of time developing your strengths instead, in those areas, you could end up being supernatural.
None of us are perfect. All of us have areas where we are phenomenal and areas where we are lacking. Self-love teaches us to embrace the strengths while still offering self-compassion (which means not beating ourselves up) as it relates to our weaknesses.
6. A Relationship Is Surplus. Not a “Void Filler”.
Some of y'all are not going to agree with what I am about to say and that's totally OK. Hmph. Come to think of it, that actually is another sign that you love yourself—you don't need other folks to co-sign on your views and perspectives in order for you to feel good about them. That said, I'm not someone who sees anything wrong with a woman feeling like she needs a man in her life (or a man feeling like he needs a woman). In this context, a need is simply something that she wants or finds essential in order for her to be content in certain facets of her life. What will garner major side-eye is if she isneedy for a man. When you're needy, you feel destitute and that tends to be one step away from desperation.
When you really and truly love yourself, you tend to look at a relationship from the standpoint of someone coming into your life to share all of the love that you already have. And, if that love comes tomorrow or five years from now, you're good because all a significant other will do is add to the already abundant life that you are already living. When a woman loves herself, a man doesn't fill any voids. He is coming into a space that is already overflowing. (Try not to drown in it, bruh.)
7. You’ve Got a Signature Style
Earlier this year, we did a feature on someone whose wedding I attended back when she and her husband lived in Nashville (they were both virgins, by the way. How cool is that?). Her name is Brandi Sellerz-Jackson. What we covered was Brandi's life as a doula. But what else she could've easily been interviewed on is her one-of-a-kind style.
Personally, I am a bigger fan of style than fashion. What I mean by that is I dig the kind of people who rock what they want to, regardless of what the industry says is in or out. I am drawn to the folks who are able to put things together in a way that is super-unique and then can walk with the kind of confidence that says, "I know I am an original. Deal with it."
When I say that loving yourself is about having a signature kind of style, I don't just mean when it comes to the clothes that you wear or make-up that you apply. One of my favorite definitions of style is "the way in which something is done". You've got a way that you go about doing you that is like no other. You are comfortable and confident in your individuality. And it resonates in just about everything that you do. If this ain't a form of self-love, what is?
8. You Are Envious of—and Threatened by—No One
Envy is evil. Full stop. I feel so strongly about it that I penned "5 Signs Your Closest Friends Are The Most Envious Of You" and "How To Stop Envying Your Favorite Celeb's Life". The main thing that I hate about envy is it's all about wanting what (or who) someone else has. It's all about being discontent with your own life; so much that you waste time, you become resentful and you very well could end up not living out your own purpose because you're so caught up in what other people have going on.
Envy is also awful because, basically it encourages you to act like God was looking out for others more than he was looking out for you. As if that's not bad enough, if you feed into it too much, it will have you feeling insecure; like everything is a competition and/or everyone is out here to get you. Envy is stifling. People who love themselves are intentional about avoiding it at all costs.
9. Aspiration—Not Desperation—Motivates You
I'm pretty sure we're all heard that desperate times call for desperate measures. But more times than not, I totally disagree. I'm more in a lane of another quote that says, "Don't let desperate situations make you do desperate things." To be desperate is to be "reckless or dangerous because of despair, hopelessness, or urgency". I have done all kinds of stupid things because I was desperate when it came to "love" (that's in quotes on purpose; true love won't require you to be reckless or dangerous), finances and sometimes, even when it came to so-called friendships.
But what's amazing about the word "desperate" is it actually reveals how to avoid it via the act of self-love. When you love yourself, you do not feel like you are in a state of despair or hopelessness; there is a positiveness and optimistic state that love brings out of you that keeps you from totally going there. Something else that I've learned self-love does is it slows you down. You don't want just anything, just to say that you have something. Because you know what you are truly deserving of—both professionally and personally—you can wait for "it". Because you are worth the wait. And that is what causes you to move based on what inspires you. Because of that, desperation isn't even on your radar.
10. You Celebrate Yourself. OFTEN.
Let's end this article with, "If you don't celebrate yourself, you don't love yourself enough." Think about it. Just by the mere fact that you are the only person who ever has been or ever will be just like you—is that not enough of a reason to honor, commend and revel in yourself? I certainly think so. But if you need more inspiration than that—When you reach a goal, celebrate it. When you make a decision in the present that you know will be right for your future, celebrate it. When you remove toxicity from your life, celebrate it. When you take a risk, celebrate it. When you see growth in a particular area, celebrate it. Celebrate by toasting yourself with your favorite bottle of wine. Or making plans to go on a trip. Or taking a private day to do nothing but whatever it is you want to do.
You will know that you've graduated to another level of loving yourself when celebrations become the norm. When you are so proud of the woman you are, that you can help but to relish in it. This is the kind of self-love that is precious. Make sure you get to a place where it's very familiar to you. You, my friend, are worthy.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Here's How To Know You're At Total Peace With Yourself
I've Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul
Quick & Easy Self-Esteem Hacks That Will Have You Feeling Yourself
7 Unapologetic Women Share Their Personal Journey To Self-Love
Feature image by Shutterstock
Originally published on November 3, 2019
- The Ultimate Self-Care Checklist, Take Care Of You - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 8 Ways To Be Kinder To Yourself, Kind To Yourself - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- How To Love Yourself More, Better Me Time - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- How Do You Actually Learn To Love Yourself? ›
- 21 Tips to Release Self-Neglect and Love Yourself in Action ›
- How To Love Yourself And Be Confident With These 15 Self Love Tips ›
- What Loving Yourself Can Look Like ›
- How to love yourself: 15 steps to believing in yourself again - Hack ... ›
- What does “self-love” really mean and how to start loving yourself ... ›
- Do You Truly Know How to Love Yourself? ›
- Loving yourself is really f***ing hard: here's how to do it | Jason ... ›
- What It Really Means to Love Yourself | Psychology Today ›
- What it really feels like to love yourself - Jamie Varon - Medium ›
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.”
Director of Content: Jasmine Grant
Campaign Manager: Chantal Gainous
Managing Editor: Sheriden Garrett
Creative Director/Executive Producer: Tracey Woods
Cover Designer: Tierra Taylor
Photographer: Ally Green
Photo Assistant: Avery Mulally
Digital Tech: Kim Tran
Video by Third and Sunset
DP & Editor: Sam Akinyele
2nd Camera: Skylar Smith
Camera Assistant: Charles Belcher
Stylist: Casey Billingsley
Hairstylist: DaVonte Blanton
Makeup Artist: Drini Marie
Production Assistants: Gade De Santana, Apu Gomes
Powered by: European Wax Center
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."
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Mike Marsland/WireImage