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Normani Is Ready To Blaze Her Own Path

The R&B singer is more than the glitz and the glam of celebrity, she is living her purpose.

Celebrity News

Our current celebrity culture is one of access, with many seeming to have an abundance of designer clothes, champagne, and fabulous parties at their disposal. But for Normani, it means more than that. Normani is living her purpose, which is more than music or television or any Instagram post. In the October issue of Teen Vogue, the cover star opens up about her anxiety over her new album and the vulnerability she's displaying for young girls like her.

Normani Graces the October Issue of Teen Vogue

"To be a young woman that looks like myself, I just feel like [being a positive example] is a part of my legacy."

As a child growing up in Houston, she didn't see herself represented in the entertainment industry. And when she did, 13-year-old Normani understood what it took for those women to get there. Now, that representation is her laser focus. No stranger to online harassment and cyberbullying during her time in Fifth Harmony, her resilience to rise above is empowering to young women.

"It's me wanting to create better opportunities for us, and also just for people who think that they got us figured out, [I want to show that] we are multifaceted and capable of much more than we get credit for, in the music industry and also in society."

Like many of us, the abrupt halt in the hustle and bustle of life helped Normani to block out the noise and listen to herself. With that came a renewed, rejuvenated Normani who has no hesitation about her first album. There was an awareness that came with the silence and an understanding she found with herself. This young woman wants to enact change and she sees herself as a vessel for God's will.

"I really want to create a body of work that's going to count, you know? I'm never going to get my first album back."

Vulnerability is the name of Normani's game and will be evident in her first solo album - still yet to be dropped. She's using her vulnerability to create a space for artists to be seen as beings, not just performers. As she wants to be a resource for her community and more specifically young girls who look like her, it's vital to her that she displays vulnerability in all its forms. For this particular rockstar, her vulnerability comes in openly talking about her anxiety.

"I feel hurt, sad, elated sometimes. I feel like I'm in my head. I feel not so confident. I just want to be able to show not only women, but people in general, that I am a human as well."

Combined with her sheer talent, Normani is on her way to be one of the biggest stars of Gen Z. What makes it even better is that she doesn't take it lightly. Every step of her career, and especially in her solo one, is about being the best representation. The young girl from Houston that wanted to be seen but not too seen, is ready to break the barriers and lead her own path.

To read Normani's Teen Vogue cover story in full, click here.

Featured image by Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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Featured image by Getty Images

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