Breasts are beautiful. I don't care what size, shape or hue, they're bomb. Yet if there's one thing that is pretty much unavoidable when it comes to them, it's the fact that sooner or later, they're not going to be quite as perky and youthful as they once were. A few things can cause that—breastfeeding, smoking, extreme weight loss or weight gain, multiple pregnancies, illness, menopause, having some really big girls and yes, aging.
While aging is something that none of us can avoid (and why would you want to? It means that you're being blessed with longer life), thankfully, there are some things that can be done to keep your breasts looking like they did, back when you would stare in the mirror, right after getting out of the shower, and smile because you liked looking at them so much. And the really cool thing is they are all-natural. So, are you ready to learn 12 ways to take a few years off of your girls? If so, keep reading.
1. Eat What Keeps Your Breast Tissue Healthy
In order to keep your breasts looking years younger, it's important that you do work from the inside out more than anything else. This starts with consuming a healthy diet; one that focuses on foods that are directly related to breast health. Let's start with omega-3s. Since they are fatty acids that help to balance out your skin's hydration levels and minimize signs of aging, of course, they had to get a shout out. Foods that are loaded with omega-3s include salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, spinach and Brussel sprouts. Citrus fruits, cabbage, broccoli, whole grains and watermelon are good for you because they're full of antioxidants and your breasts can always use some of those. If you're looking to increase your breast tissue growth (so that your breasts look plumper), foods that have monounsaturated fats in them (like olive oil, avocados, cashews, eggs and almonds) should go on your grocery list. And peaches, pears and apples (the apple's skin more than anything) have your back because the antioxidant polyphenol can help to keep your breast cancer risk at bay.
2. Stay Hydrated
Water flushes out toxins. Water moisturizes. Water aids in weight loss. Water helps your body to better absorb the nutrients that it needs. Water improves blood and oxygen circulation. And your breasts definitely need all of these things in order to stay healthy and to appear younger. That's why you should make sure to consume no less than 6-8 glasses of water a day. Shoot, do your breasts a solid and drink some infused water while you're at it. It will give them some extra vitamins and minerals. Plus, infused water tastes less…boring.
3. Work Out Your Pectoral Muscles
I can personally attest to this one. Although my breasts are still looking pretty good out in these streets (not literally but you know what I'm saying), I've gotta admit that they were perkier in my 20s and 30s. A lot of it doesn't have to do with aging. It's because I was more physically active then and definitely had stronger pectoral muscles.
I promise that while you're out here looking for the perfect bra in order to make your breasts look supple and youthful, if you'd just get your chest muscles right, it can take literal years off of your breasts' appearance.
Push-ups are kind of a given. If you'd like to learn about more exercises that can strengthen your chest muscles, check out Healthline's "Try This: 13 Breast-Firming Exercises".
4. Improve Your Posture
I once read somewhere that about 80 percent of Americans have really poor posture. That's not good because that can eventually lead to back pain, headaches, trouble sleeping, digestive issues and yep, you guessed it—sagging breasts. On the breast tip, bad posture is specifically problematic because it puts your breasts in a position that leads to droopiness. So, definitely be intentional about walking with your shoulders back and sitting with your back aligned to your chair. If you'd like to take a bit of a posture test to see how far off from good posture you might currently be, I read an article that can walk you through a quick exercise. You can check it out here.
5. Watch Your Deodorant
You might've heard somewhere that, due to a lot of the chemicals that are in many popular deodorant and antiperspirant brands, it's best to stay away from them. Why? Because they could increase your breast cancer risk. Although Cancer.org considers this to be an unfounded myth, I'm the kind of person who likes to be on the safe side; especially since my girls are large (36H) and I'm getting older. It's taken me a while to find an all-natural deodorant brand that doesn't irritate my skin (and works well). I finally have, though. A company called Deep Well Botanicals has safe and affordable deodorants that come in scents like lavender, bergamot and herbal spice that are made out of ingredients like baking soda, coconut oil, zinc oxide, activated charcoal and Vitamin E oil. And since the less chemicals that go into your system, the healthier your breast tissue will be, you can see why it's a good idea to go the all-natural route.
6. Put on Some Sunscreen
I know we all think that Black doesn't crack (it actually can, if we're not careful; check out "Yes, Black CAN Crack. Here's What To Do About It, Tho."). Still, that's not a good enough reason to go without sunscreen. Yes, we have more melanin than other ethnicities and praise the good Lord for it. However, the fact that many of us have gone without protection from UV rays is rooted in the lack of education that a lot of dermatologists have when it comes to how to properly care for our skin.
And when it comes to our breasts specifically, when we don't apply sunscreen to them whenever we're wearing a sundress or bathing suit and the underside of our breasts end up "getting overheated" from the sun, that can lead to extra drooping up the road. It only takes a second to apply a little bit, so as the weather heats up, please make sure that you do.
7. Take a Collagen Supplement
Something that our skin needs is collagen. A part of the reason why is because it's a protein that provides our skin with the elasticity that it needs. As we age, it's pretty common for our collagen levels to drop. A way to prevent this from happening is to take a collagen supplement. It's a smart move when it comes to your breasts because collagen is actually able to make the skin around your breasts appear more youthful; fuller too. That's why it's a good idea to add a collagen supplement to your daily regimen. You also might want to add more foods to your diet that have collagen in them like citrus fruits, egg whites, fish, white tea, bell peppers, tomatoes and bone broth.
8. Wear the Right Bra (Sometimes a Sports Bra)
While some folks believe that the ever-popular statement that 80 percent of women wear the wrong size bra is more of a myth than anything else, chile, I'm not so sure. It was just a couple of years ago that I thought I was a 36DDD, only to get fitted and find out that I was a 36H up in this mug! Moral to the story—if it's been a while since you've had a professional bra fitting (as opposed to a personal bra guessing), there is no time like the present to see what's really going on with your girlies. Once you do get the right measurements, make sure to go with a bra that offers great support over one that is just "pretty". Also, avoid wearing push-up bras a lot. Believe it or not, when it comes to making your breasts look younger, that kind of bra can work against you because it can actually weaken the muscles that support your breasts and that can lead to sagging.
Speaking of bras, if you're someone who works out or your girls lean towards the larger side, make sure to have a few sports bras in your possession. They're specifically designed to help keep your breasts' ligaments from stretching which can also cause droopiness. Plus, you'll feel more comfortable and confident as you're exercising.
9. Wear Your Bra Less, Though
Are you ready to trip right on out? While I was doing some research on breasts, in general, I happened upon some quotes from a book entitledDressed to Kill--Second Edition: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras. Something that really stood out to me was that the amount of time that we wear a bra can be directly linked to how much our breast cancer risk increases. For instance, it said that women who wore a bra 24 hours a day had a three out of four chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer; women who wore one 12 hours a day had a one out of seven risk; women who had one on less than 12 hours a day had a one in 52 chance of getting this kind of cancer, and women who never wore a bra had a one out of 168 chance of having cancer.
While I definitely see the purpose in bras and I'm not gonna flat-out cosign on not wearing one, what I will say is if you think about the fact that our vaginas need time to breathe after wearing underwear, why wouldn't our breasts need a break too? Especially if we've been sweating and those toxins get trapped in our bra material and our breasts aren't able to "escape". Yes, bras are supposed to offer up support. At the same time, going without can actually increase blood flow and, believe it or not, can help to improve muscle tone over time.
So, if your grandma had you believing that you damn near had to live in a bra every waking and sleeping minute, let that old wives' tale go. Taking off your bra as soon as you get home and sleeping without one can be the absolute best ways to keep your girls looking younger.
10. Apply Sweet Almond Oil During the Day
I've been a big fan of sweet almond oil for a while now. While I started using it for my face and neck (if you want to remain youthful looking, definitely pay close attention to moisturizing your neck), I've started putting it on my breasts as well. Sweet almond oil is awesome because it contains nutrients like fatty acids, vitamins A and E, protein, potassium and zinc that can help to improve skin tone, reduce the appearance of stretch marks (if you happen to have any on your breasts), can reverse sun damage (over time), deeply moisturize your skin and provide a natural sun-kissed glow to it. So, when you step out of the shower in the morning, apply some sweet almond oil before drying off. You'll love the way it makes your breasts look and feel.
11. Apply Wheat Germ Oil at Night
Before turning in at night, how about adding another oil into the mix? Wheat germ oil is also wonderful because it's loaded with iron, phosphorus, zinc, folic acid and vitamins B, D and E. This powerful nutrient combo is known to provide anti-aging results. Plus, wheat germ oil has been known to soothe the effects of skin ailments such as psoriasis and eczema. So yeah, if you apply sweet almond oil in the day and wheat germ oil at night, you will be well on your way to having absolutely gorgeous skin as far as your breasts are concerned.
10. Take a Hormone Test
As we get older and head closer to menopause, that can cause our hormones to be a little all over the place. This can especially be the case when it comes to our estrogen levels. Unfortunately, when they start to drop, the connective tissues within our breasts can become dehydrated and the elasticity within our breasts can begin to wane too. It can be kinda difficult to simply guess where your hormone levels are on your own. That's why it's a good idea to ask your doctor to check them for you, the next time you have your physical. Being clear on where they're at can let you know if you simply need to eat more phytoestrogen foods (plant-based estrogen ones such as peaches, berries, garlic, sesame seeds and flaxseeds) or if it would be wise for you to receive actually hormone therapy. Either way, balanced hormones mean a healthy body and some pretty good-looking breasts too!
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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 (email@example.com) 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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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
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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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