The classic album that launched Mary J. Blige's career in the mid-'90s is the inspiration behind the newly released Amazon Prime documentary entitled, Mary J. Blige's My Life. When Mary dropped the album in 1994, it connected with women of all ages on a different level than ever before, dubbing her the Queen of Hip Hop Soul. She admittedly recorded the album during one of the darkest times in her life.
Depression and an abusive relationship (with singer K-Ci of K-Ci & JoJo) contributed to the album's timeless soulful tracks and the reason she's finally decided to tell the whole story of that period on the silver screen.
"I've done pretty much everything that I've always wanted to do," the Power Book II: Ghost star said in the doc. "But success comes when you're successful inside. And for a long time, I didn't know I was successful outside because I was a wreck inside."
Raise your hand if you've ever been a wreck on the inside. *Raises hand* It's true her relatability and the resilience that she's displayed in her music over decades has transformed her into the icon she is. In the doc, Mary also talks about being molested, her battle with addiction, and childhood traumas.
Below read Mary's best quotables while doing press for the film that shows the power in her vulnerability.
On wanting no more drama in her life...
"For years, from album to album, I was still in so much pain until I got to the No More Drama album [released in 2001]. That's when I made the choice, 'I'm tired of feeling like this. I'm tired of having suicidal thoughts. I'm tired of hating myself, and now I don't want to die. How do I live?" Mary told Yahoo Entertainment while promoting the doc.
"So it was still heavy for me when everyone else was like, 'Oh my God, this album did so much for me. This album saved my life.' When I was still stuck in hell."
On growing up in underserved communities…
Mary's parents divorced when she was just five and she grew up with her mother and her three siblings in Schlobohm housing projects in Yonkers, New York.
"I think [what] people don't understand about the families that live in the projects, is that it's like a prison… people are just suffering…. I remember hearing women being beaten. My mother was one of those women. I carried her pain. I carried the neighbors' pain. I carried people all over the environment's pain. And I carried my own pain," she said of her experience.
On her self-love journey…
"Now, I love my sharp, pointy nose. I love my high cheekbones. I love my lips. I love everything about me and, nowadays, people are buying these features [laughs]."
On the abuse she endured...
The songstress opened up about her failed relationship with K-Ci.
"It became very dark, the whole thing, and abusive," she shared. "There was a lot of manipulation," to the point where she decided, "I'm gonna dumb myself all the way down, play myself all the way down, so I don't think I'm special, so I can be with you."
"I've had to physically fight for my life a lot," she continued.
On the advice she would give to the young women out there…
"My advice would be to keep going," Blige said during an interview at ESSENCE Fest. "You're going to fail, you're going to have ups and downs, but just don't stop whatever you're doing."
Mary J. Blige's My Life is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Featured image by Rodin Eckenroth / Stringer
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Jazmine A. Ortiz is a creative born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn and currently living in Staten Island, NY. She started in the entertainment industry in 2012 and now works as a Lifestyle Editor where she explores everything from mental health to vegan foodie trends. For more on what she's doing in the digital space follow her on Instagram at @liddle_bitt.
When Megan Thee Stallion dropped “Hiss,” a shift happened. From the audacious lyrics to the striking visuals, there was no doubt that the song and video would go viral. The opening of the video shows the H-town hottie rocking a barely there Shibari red dress, showing off her voluptuous frame. It was a sexy moment created by Timeekah Murphy of Alani Taylor. The designer exclusively tells us how the opportunity came about and what it was like seeing her design on Megan for the first time.
xoNecole: How did the opportunity to create such an iconic look for Megan Thee Stallion's "Hiss" video come about?
Timeekah Murphy: The opportunity came from a DM from celebrity stylist Zerina Akers. She asked for a unique Shibari piece for Megan, and I needed to get it done in two days. So, of course, I did everything in my power to make it happen. I've always wanted to design for Megan, so this was an awesome opportunity for me.
xoN: What was that initial feeling of seeing the dress on her for the first time?
TM: I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
xoN: Did you meet her? If so, how was that moment?
TM: I didn't meet Megan during the shoot, but during my time in LA, I got the opportunity to meet her at LA Pride with Tiffany Haddish, Common, and EJ King (stylist). Megan is such an amazing person, so it made it even better to know that my designs were going to be worn by her. I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
"I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her."
xoN: Walk us through the creation of the dress. How did you come up with the look, and how long did it take to make it?
TM: I was the co-designer for a brand called Deviant in 2018-2020, and we used to make custom Shibari pieces. That's how Zerina knew me. So I'm very familiar with making these types of pieces. We made plenty for Beyoncé, Cardi B, Tiffany Haddish, Tyra Banks, and so many others. So Zerina knew exactly what she wanted.
To get it done, it took me a day and a half. It's very intricate and time-consuming, so I spent about six hours making it then I sent an image of it to Zerina, and she didn't approve the first one, so I had to start from scratch again after getting my guidance and understanding of what was needed. The next day, I went to The Lab and created another version, and she approved it. I had to get it shipped overnight so that she would get it in time and fast forward to seeing it on the big screen.
xoN: What's next for you?
TM: Everything. The sky is not my limit, so the Alani Taylor brand is expanding into so many different avenues. We are getting involved in the community more, offering sewing classes to the youth. I've opened up a store for my brand in Atlanta and now preparing for fall/winter Fashion Week.
Megan Thee Stallion "Hiss" video/ YouTube
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Pretty much any headline that I give for these articles, I am intentional about. Okay, but this one right here? When I say that blind pimples really and truly are the absolute worst? UGH. They are painful. They are irritating. And sometimes, it seems like it takes them for-e-ver to go away. That’s because they’re the kind of pimples that form so beneath the surface of your skin that they may never reach the top and turn into a head. That’s why you have to come up with approaches that are a bit more strategic in order to help them go away.
As far as taking preventative measures go, make sure to exfoliate your skin (to keep your pores and hair follicles from clogging up), wash your face each and every time you wear make-up, and keep your stress levels down (stress can kick up the production of sebum and that can lead to all sorts of breakouts).
Okay, but what do you do if you’ve already got a blind pimple that’s present and accounted for, and it’s about to drive you absolutely nuts? If that’s what you’ve got going on right now, I’ve been there. More than once (SDMH). Here are 12 things that I know, for a fact, can bring you some much-needed relief to your visible and internal blind pimple.
1. Tea Tree Oil Is a Beast
When it comes to tea tree oil specifically, there are two reasons why I will gladly stand on any street and sing its praises. 1) it’s how good it is at removing dandruff (just pour a few drops into your shampoo, chile), and 2) it’s how quickly it can remove a pimple, including a blind pimple. When it comes to my latter shout-out, I get why, too. Due to tea tree oil’s extremely potent antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, if you’re looking for something all-natural that will cleanse out your pores and remove acne-causing bacteria without drying out your skin at almost a record rate, tea tree oil is going to make that happen.
And since it can also help to heal wounds, get rid of nail fungus, and fight tooth decay — I don’t see why everyone doesn’t have at least one bottle of 100 percent pure tea tree oil somewhere in their house.
2. Raw Honey Is Your Friend
The fact that (when stored right) honey doesn’t expire is enough of a reason to give it all of the props in the world. Oh, but if you add to that the fact that it contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties that strengthen gut health, boost immunity, soothe a sore throat, reduce coughing, improve your quality of sleep, and even hydrate your skin and hair — yes, raw honey is something else that is an absolute must-have, across the board.
The reason why it makes the “blind pimple list” is because it’s something else that can swiftly and effectively kill the bacteria that causes blind pimples to form in the first place. So, if you’ve got one popping up, spot-treat it with a bit of honey. If you apply it before turning in at night, you could notice a difference in how your blind pimple feels by morning.
3. Apply Some Ice
There’s a very simple reason why applying ice can be a wise move if you’re trying to reduce the discomfort that comes from having a blind pimple. Since coldness can constrict your blood vessels, if you were to apply ice to your underneath-the-surface zit, it can reduce the swelling, which can help it to appear less visible (if you can see the blind pimple but it hasn’t yet come to a head) and feel a lot less painful as well.
4. Then Apply a Warm Compress
Speaking of temperature therapy, something else that you might want to try is applying a warm compress directly onto your blind pimple. The thought process here is that while coldness can reduce inflammation, warmth can help to drain the pus in the pore — and that could either cause the pimple to go away or rise to the surface at a quicker pace (especially if you apply one temperature after the other).
5. Try Some Salicylic Acid
Ever since I’ve been doing chemical peels at home (check out “I've Been Doing At-Home Chemical Peels. Here Are The Pros And Cons.”), my skin has improved greatly when it comes to its texture and the amount of period pimples that I receive (which is next to nothing at this point). I’d venture to say that a part of the reason is because some of my products contain salicylic acid, which is an ingredient that helps to exfoliate your skin by sloughing off dead skin cells. The reason why this can work well for blind pimples is, that the clearer the clogged pore of that kind of pimple is, the easier it will be for the zit to come to a head and drain itself.
Oh, and if you’re wondering if pimple patches containing salicylic acid are the ultimate blind pimple hack, I’ll be honest with you: products need to make money, so many will try to sell you on that. However, my personal experience has been that pimple patches are best at draining fluid from pimples that are actually at the surface; they do little, if anything, for blind pimples overall. #sorry
6. Don’t Forget About Benzoyl Peroxide
Out of all of the hacks listed in this article, the one that you may be the most familiar with is benzoyl peroxide. That’s because, when it comes to popular skincare brands that claim to get rid of pimples, in general, this is an ingredient that is in many of them. And with good reason. Benzoyl peroxide is a powerful antiseptic that cleanses bacteria from pimples, including blind pimples. Just make sure that if this is what you decide to use, you take the “less is more” approach. It’s not uncommon for people to overdo it when it comes to applying this product, and that can lead to redness, skin peeling, itchiness, and your skin becoming worse instead of better. Indeed, with benzoyl peroxide, a little bit goes a really long way.
7. Use a Blend of Grapeseed Oil and Jojoba Oil
Although, on the surface, it might sound odd that putting oil on a pimple can help it to go away, there is a reason why that is absolutely the case. See, the focus isn’t so much the oil but the ingredients that are in it. For instance, coconut oil is high in lauric acid, and, not only does that help to kill the bacteria that cause acne, but it can also reduce any scarring that may be left behind once the acne lesions start to heal. Two other oils that are awesome as a combo are grapeseed and jojoba oil. Grapeseed is dope because it contains vitamin E (which is loaded with antioxidants) along with strong antimicrobial properties that can help to heal pimples (including blind pimples), while jojoba is awesome because it contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agents that can reduce the appearance of blind pimples — especially if you apply a mixture of them directly onto your blind pimples every night.
8. Invest in a LED Device
If blind pimples and acne overall are something that you deal with on a fairly consistent basis, you might want to look into investing in an at-home red light therapy device. These are beneficial because light therapy helps not only kill bacteria but stimulate collagen production, too. These types of devices are gaining traction for removing the swelling of blind pimples quickly and effectively, so it couldn’t hurt to invest in one to see how it works for you personally.
9. Up the Omega-3 Foods
If you want to boost your brain health, strengthen your heart, reduce your chances of getting breast cancer, improve your vision, and even help to prevent and/or bring relief to certain autoimmune diseases, get more omega-3 fatty acids into your system. Since these acids are pretty good at also reducing inflammation, that’s why they can be helpful at speeding up the healing process of a blind pimple. Foods that can help you out in this department include walnuts, tuna, eggs, fortified orange juice, and flaxseed oil.
10. Reduce Your Dairy Intake
I still think it’s wild that humans are pretty much the only mammals who consume another mammal’s baby milk — and for me, that has become enough of a reason to be cool with staying in my oat milk alternative lane (for the most part); not to mention the fact that it’s made me feel better overall (you can read more about health risks that are associated with consuming dairy here, here and here).
And when it comes to your pimples and mine, even the American Academy of Dermatology Association had to go on record as saying that cow’s milk has been linked to breakouts, while other studies state that dairy overall can aggravate acne in people ages 30 and under due to the hormones that are typically in dairy products like milk and cheese.
So, if blind pimples seem to pop up out of nowhere whenever you and pizza or ice cream are bonding together — while I hate to rain on your parade, that’s probably not some random coincidence. #sorryagain
11. Drink Some Spearmint Tea
Articles I’ve written for the platform like “10 Teas That Are Great For The Fall Season — As Far As Hair Growth Is Concerned,” “10 'Uncommon' Teas You Should Add To Your Stash (& Why)” and “So, Here Are Some Teas That Will Make Your Sex Life So Much Better” prove that I’m a big time tea fan. In fact, when I finish penning this article, I’m gonna treat myself to some black tea and honey…and I can’t wait. Before closing this out, though, if you also like tea, make sure that you’ve got some spearmint in your tea collection.
Not only is it great when it comes to fighting bacterial infections and reducing stress, but it might also trip you out to know that it can help to balance out your hormones and — get this — even move unwanted facial hair. And why is it great for treating blind pimples? Well, the properties in it help to kill bacteria-causing acne and reduce the inflammation of zits. Yeah, definitely one of the best teas you can have in your possession is spearmint, for sure.
12. Leave the "White Stuff" Alone
Even though white foods like pasta, rice, and bread may taste really good, the reality is they don’t have many nutrients in them. Plus, they are simple carbohydrates that turn into sugar — and sugar is definitely a culprit for pimples. The main reason is because sugar can cause inflammation, and inflammation can increase sebum production. So, if you must do the white stuff, consume it in moderation. Your health will thank you. Your complexion, including when it comes to treating and preventing blind pimples, will too!
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Featured image by Hiraman/Getty Images