There has been an ongoing conversation on social media around the term “independent woman.” While it once was a badge of honor to call yourself an independent woman, who else was singing I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T at the functions? Many women are now slamming that narrative. Just recently, our girl Ciara received massive backlash online following the release of her song "For Da Girls" because she was seemingly praising women “who don’t need no man,” and some social media users thought the song's message could be seen as a contradiction because she is happily married to Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.
Although Ciara didn't publicly address the flak, the topic of traditional values in marriage became front and center again when Mo'Nique shared her thoughts on how the concept of an independent woman could cause a struggle in the power dynamic of one's relationship and why she felt it wasn't suitable for her union with Sidney Hicks.
The veteran comedian has been married to Hicks since 2006, and the couple shares two children: twins David and Johnathon Hicks. In an interview with Vulture, Mo'Nique, who was promoting her new Netflix comedy special My Name is Monique, revealed the factors that led to her decision stemmed from the effects she "witnessed" in her parents' relationship and her own with Hicks.
Mo'Nique On The Independent Woman Concept And Its Effects
The 55-year-old told the publication that growing up, she would see her mother --while juggling a job and other household duties-- cook regularly to ensure that her father had something to eat when he came home from work and iron his clothes.
But as Mo’Nique would describe, things quickly became a "competition" in the pair's relationship after deciding that they would "do the same thing" because they were both working individuals.
"There was a time when we were coming up … My mother made sure dinner was on the table Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. My father never went without an ironed shirt. It was just things that I watched my mother do, and both of my parents worked. Then we went through this era of, 'Well if I work like you working, you could do the same thing I can do.' Then it became a struggle, and it became a competition in the household. I was a part of that. That's what I knew. That's what I witnessed," she said.
Further in the conversation, Mo'Nique disclosed that as she became an adult and started watching television programs like The Oprah Winfrey Show, she often heard messages of "independence and empowerment," especially for women, so much so she incorporated that into life.
Despite being influential and financially well-off, The Parkers star added that the downfall of that message was that it could be an incredibly lonely experience.
"When I started watching Oprah Winfrey … Oprah never said these words, let me be clear. Oprah Winfrey never said, 'You don't need a man.' We watched her action. We watched her talk about independence and empowerment," Monique explained. "We watched that, and we followed that. If that's what the most powerful Black woman is doing in this country, then that's what we should be doing, too. We got involved in it, and we watched it, and we followed it, and then a lot of us found ourselves very lonely. We had all the power, we had all the money, but we went to bed very lonely."
Mo'Nique On Her Marriage to Sidney Hicks
After pondering about the life she wanted for herself and Hicks in the future, Mo'Nique expressed she happily allowed her husband to take the lead because she knew her place and how beneficial both parties were to the union.
"So, I had to say to myself, I want something different. When I'm 80 years old, I want to sit on the porch and hold hands, and rock back and forth in a rocking chair, and watch our great-grandbabies play. That's the happy place for me, in knowing my place. I don't have to pee standing up. I can sit down like a lady should. If there's a strange sound in the house in the middle of the night, I don't have to jump up and take a flashlight. I have a man that does that. When we pull up somewhere, I don't open up my car door. I have a man to do that," the Precious star explained.
Although Mo'Nique admitted that she did struggle to relinquish the ideas that came along with being an independent woman because it was ingrained in her life at a young age, all that changed was when she found her "true love" with Hicks.
She wrapped up her sentiments by saying many could experience that shift once they, too, are with a partner they love.
While this concept around the independent woman may continue to spark debates, it's always best to just do what suits you and your relationship.
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 @therealmoworldwide/ Instagram
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
Welcome to Black Girl Whole, your space to find the wellness routine that aligns with you! This brand-new marketplace by xoNecole is a safe space for Black women to activate their healing, find the inspiration to rest, and receive reassurance that we are one small act away from finding our happiness.
Want to discover where you are on your wellness journey? You don't have to look far. In partnership with European Wax Center, we're bringing you a customized wellness quiz to help you up your wellness game. Answer our short series of questions to figure out which type of wellness lover you are, what you need to bring more balance into your life, and then go deeper by shopping products geared towards clearing your mind, healing your body, and soothing your spirit.
Ready to get whole? Take our quiz now!
32-year-old social media influencer and mother of five, Ariel B, did not set out to tell her story; but it was her truth that set her free. Her truth is also the inspiration for her new podcast "This Too Shall Pass," produced by Idea To Launch Productions. The podcast delves into Ariel's life and journey as a single parent and a domestic violence survivor. But it also serves as a window into her past traumas that have fostered her resilience.
In an exclusive interview with xoNecole, Ariel B. reveals that her online following grew after she decided to share the realistic, non-curated parts of her life on social media at the advice of her therapist. "Growing up, I was taught to hide things that made you seem less than," she says. "I didn't mind speaking at the shelter for women and children. I didn't mind speaking in my domestic violence group with other women, but I was ashamed to talk about it with people that I felt had a perfect life. So [my therapist] said 'No, you need to get used to telling your story. If you don't like it or you feel some kind of way, just delete it.' I started first on Instagram, and that was probably the first time I dipped my toe in the social media world of telling the truth."
Ariel's followers became inspired by her honest and raw day-in-the-life perspective: the days when she would be over her budget, her kids' rooms wouldn't be the tidiest, or when she'd be running late for pick-ups and drop-offs. Her relatability made single mothers everywhere feel seen, but there's much more to life Ariel's story that she's found the bravery to open up about.
The Florida native had her first child when she was 16 years old. Growing up in a middle-class suburban family, she says she felt judged by family and peers for having children out of wedlock. "I already had two kids before I got married," she says. "And when I got married, I think that was my parents' sigh of relief. Like, oh my gosh, she's finally married. She's not a single mother of two. She should be safe. It was a disaster."
Ariel says marriage was great in the beginning. Her ex-husband presented himself as loving and was a proud stepfather to her two children. After welcoming two more children with her ex-husband, she says that's when the problems started. "We were arguing all the time. The finances were bad. And then it got to the point where he was consuming a lot of alcohol all the time," she says. "And when the alcohol got bad, it got physical. I was embarrassed. I just invited all of my family to this wedding and everyone's so happy that I'm married, but I'm miserable."
Ariel eventually filed for divorce, and was then forced to get a restraining order after her ex proceeded to stalk her. Though these frightening moments are behind her, she's working every day to address the residual trauma. "It was a lot of trauma to get where we are, and a lot to finally feel safe," she says. "But I just wanted to do whatever I had to do so my children wouldn't have to heal from a choice that I made."
It's clear that Ariel's adorable children, ranging from ages three to fifteen, are her biggest inspiration. She often posts videos of herself teaching them important life lessons like how to create a budget and maintain good credit. It's these important life skills that many of her followers said they wished they had learned growing up. For Ariel, her greatest goal is to fill up their self-love tank. "The world is going to knock you down enough when you get older," she says. "So if I can push them out there at a hundred percent if the world can only knock them down to 80, I'd be happy with that. But if they only go out there at 80 and the world can get them down to 60 or less than half of who they are, that's a problem for me."
When it comes to her new podcast, Ariel isn't afraid of the judgments that may come, both from loved ones and strangers. "When you tell the truth, there's nothing to hide from," she says. "I am a single mother of five. I do have more than one child's father. We are on a budget. And when I was able to just be honest, I think I wasn't shameful anymore. I didn't have to pretend and I was able to tell my truth out loud."
"This Too Shall Pass" is out now!