We have officially transitioned into the fall season, which encourages us to reclaim a sense of balance in our lives. The New Moon on the 6th invites us to recognize where we are giving or taking too much. When Venus shifts into Sagittarius, there's a desire for a wild, romantic adventure to shake up our routine. This month, we have three planets going direct—Pluto, Saturn, and Mercury—helping us feel a greater sense of forward momentum. The fiery Full Moon on the 20th liberates us from a need to fit in with the crowd and to, instead, become a trailblazer of our own destiny.
Towards the end of the month, the Sun and Mars motivate us to lock in on our goals and see through to completion. Check out how your zodiac sign is affected in the month ahead:
AriesAriesLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The month kicks off with a New Moon on the 6th inviting you into partnerships that are more in alignment with your personal evolution. On the same day, Pluto goes direct and the changes you've been making internally are more evident. You've spent a lot of time unlearning old programming and confronting your fears in regards to your career, authority, and success. Now it's your time to shine. On the 7th, Venus enters Sagittarius, making this an ideal time to plan a baecation or take a solo trip. If you're single, there's a possibility of meeting someone special during your travels.
When Saturn goes direct on the 10th, you're ready to put those lessons you've been learning about friendship and community into action. On the 18th, Mercury goes direct to help clear up any miscommunications within your closest connections. The Full Moon in your sign on the 20th is the much-needed spark that you've been craving since Leo season. It's time to reveal more of your magnificence to the world. By the end of the month the Sun and Mars team up in Scorpio inviting you to do a deep dive into your psyche and your most valuable relationships. Sexual healing, transformation, and intimacy await you during this transit.
TaurusTaurusLaci Jordan for xoNecole
Your health and wellness are top priority around the New Moon on the 6th. Implementing new routines, habits, and a fitness regimen will help get you back into alignment if you've been feeling off lately. On the same day, Pluto goes direct, giving you the opportunity to walk your path with more confidence after spending the past several months redefining your spiritual beliefs and personal philosophies. When Venus enters Sagittarius on the 7th, you're invited to get clear on the kind of people that you want close(r) to you. Fickle energies just won't do for a fixed sign like you.
On the 10th, Saturn goes direct to get you back on track with some of your longer term career goals and the legacy you're building for yourself. When Mercury goes direct on the 18th, you're able to integrate any recent changes you've wanted to make within your work environment or daily schedule. On the 20th, the Full Moon stirs up some inner tension and frustrations--possibly more so within your dreams. Find healthy outlets for your anger to avoid getting snappy with others. The Sun shifts into Scorpio on the 23rd, then meets up with Mars on the 30th, bringing your attention to your partnerships, marriage, and contractual agreements. Hidden resentments can come to the surface but it's all about how you address them so you and the other party can get on the same page moving forward.
GeminiGeminiLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The month begins with a romantic New Moon in Libra inviting you to put yourself out there--especially if you're single. It's time to ditch the sweatpants and oversized t-shirts for some real clothes. This is a particularly creative, sweet, and playful time for you, so make the most of it. On the same day, Pluto goes direct, coaxing you out of hermit mode to rejoin the rest of the world after spending the past several months in cocoon mode. When Venus enters Sagittarius on the 7th, you're attracting some interesting partnerships and collaborations meant to expand your worldview.
When Saturn goes direct on the 10th, you're ready to move forward without all of the karmic debris you've been clearing out in relation to your spiritual beliefs and practices. On the 18th, Mercury goes direct to push along any projects that have stalled due to reasons beyond your control or procrastination. The Full Moon on the 20th encourages you to showcase what makes you stand out. Ultimately, this will align you with the right crowd that can support you in fulfilling your vision. On the 23rd, the Sun shifts into Scorpio, then teams up with Mars on the 30th giving you a much-needed boost of energy to handle your daily responsibilities and still have enough fuel to squeeze in a workout, too.
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Home and family matters have your attention around the New Moon on the 6th. Investing into property or family planning may be on the list around this time. On the same day, Pluto goes direct, helping you move forward in your most significant relationships with more ease after confronting some of your fears these past several months. Financial partnerships are also highlighted, making this an auspicious time for opportunities that will bring you more power, security, and success. When Venus enters Sagittarius, you could start feeling restless with your routine, making it a good time to switch up your approach or environment in some way. If you're looking for remote work, this could be a lucky time to find the perfect opportunity.
On the 10th, Saturn goes direct which has you feeling more empowered in your ability to make the right connections and build upon your ideal community of people that can help you achieve your bigger goals. When Mercury goes direct on the 18th, this is a more favorable time to sign a new lease or close on a property. Any rifts with family members, roommates, or a live-in partner can also be resolved more easily. On the 20th, the Full Moon requires you to step up to the plate and flex your boss muscle. You've got what it takes to handle any challenges in your career. Towards the end of the month, the Sun and Mars shift into Scorpio, intensifying both your libido and creativity. Baby-making season is in the air!
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
The month begins with a New Moon in Libra inviting you to negotiate your way to the bag. Networking figures strongly into your life during this time. Stay ready so you don't have to get ready. You only get one chance to make a first impression. On the same day, Pluto goes direct empowering you to implement positive habits and routines into your life. A little bit of discipline goes a long way. When Venus shifts into Sagittarius on the 7th, your sex appeal is out of this world. If you're open to romance, just have fun without putting too much pressure on things (at least for the time being).
On the 10th, Saturn goes direct, helping you get more clear with your boundaries in existing relationships (including your relationship with your work). Mercury goes direct on the 18th, moving forward any stalled communications. The Full Moon in Aries on the 20th stirs up your wanderlust which could have you planning a great escape to some far-off land. On the 23rd, the Sun shifts into Scorpio then meets up with Mars on the 30th, bringing your focus to settling down a bit.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
The New Moon at the beginning of the month invites you to explore new ways of making money. As multifaceted as you are, there's always another way of getting the bag. On the same day, Pluto goes direct, empowering you to express your creativity in ways like never before. This energy is extremely cathartic and supportive of you creating some of your best work to-date. When Venus shifts into Sagittarius on the 7th, your home environment could have you feeling a bit restless. A need to expand beyond your comfort zone is hard to ignore which could have you considering a more nomadic lifestyle.
On the 10th, Saturn goes direct, making it a lot more easy for you to get back into a structured routine. A week later, your ruling planet, Mercury, goes direct, giving you the green light when it comes to new business partnerships and opportunities. The Full Moon in Aries on the 20th motivates you to release your perfectionist tendencies so you can finally pursue your hidden desires. On the 23rd, the Sun enters Scorpio which could have you feeling exposed in your vulnerability. Be mindful of who you're sharing your secrets with during this time. Once Mars meets up with the Sun, there's potential that someone may just be trying to gather intel on you as a part of some bigger scheme.
LibraLibraLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The month begins with a New Moon in your sign inviting you to make a wish for what you want to accomplish in the next year around the Sun. On the same day, Pluto goes direct after being retrograde since the Spring. An inner transformation related to your upbringing and family has now been completed empowering you to stand in your truth. You only have one life to live. Make sure you're living it for yourself. When Venus shifts into Sagittarius on the 7th, your natural flirtatious ways are enhanced making this an auspicious time for attracting romance into your life. Keep your expectations light during this time and just have fun getting to know people. Be open to connecting with someone from a completely different walk of life. There's so much to learn from an experience that differs from your own.
On the 10th, Saturn goes direct which has you more clear about the kind of long-term commitment you want. Don't be afraid to explore unconventional ways of going about a partnership. What works for someone else may not be a good fit for you. The Full Moon in Aries on the 20th helps you release your people-pleasing tendencies so you can start establishing more sovereignty in your life. Towards the end of the month, the Sun and Mars transition into Scorpio, motivating you to initiate new financial partnerships and streams of income. Know your worth and add tax!
ScorpioScorpioLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The beginning of the month invites you to reflect on situations that need some closure. Your karmic debt has been paid, so there's no need to prolong your suffering. Make peace with what hasn't worked out the way you thought it would. The Divine has something way better in store for you anyway. On the same day, Pluto goes direct after spending the past six months retrograde. Your inner dialogue has gone through a major transformation that will ultimately support you in aligning with the life of your dreams. On the 7th, Venus enters Sagittarius which has you dreaming up a way to make money while not having to be confined to one space. When it comes to romance or financial partnership, be open to connecting with someone from a different walk of life. You can learn a lot from their perspective.
On the 10th, Saturn goes direct, helping you get more clear about what family, home, and tribe means to you. If you've felt restricted in any of these areas in the past several month, the energies ease up moving forward. When Mercury goes direct on the 18th, you're clear on what (and who) needs to be left behind. You've gone as far as you can within this situation and now it's time to venture into new territory. The Full Moon in Aries on the 18th breaks you out of a lethargic funk to reinvigorate your sense of passion and purpose in your daily affairs. On the 23rd, the Sun enters Scorpio and meets up with Mars on the 30th, enhancing your drive, motivation, and will power. This an opportune time to tackle your to-do list and make some major moves.
SagittariusSagittariusLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The month begins with a New Moon in Libra on the 6th inviting you to expand your social network and reconnect with friends you haven't seen in a while. On the same day, Pluto goes direct which has you feeling more in control of your finances moving forward. Investments and wealth building are your top priorities in the months to come. When Venus shifts into your sign on the 7th, your luck factor increases even more as you find yourself on the receiving end of a lot of attention, opportunities, and blessings.
On the 10th, Saturn goes direct, setting you up with the right mindset that you need to achieve your goals. Don't throw in the towel just because your growth isn't happening quick enough. On the 18th, Mercury goes direct, supporting the forward movement of your long-term endeavors and ironing out any communication kinks you've had with a team member that may be helping you in the process. The Full Moon in Aries encourages you to indulge in some pleasure and romance. Towards the end of the month, the Sun and Mars in Scorpio are kicking up some suppressed frustrations (and possibly revealing some hidden enemies). Make sure you're viewing someone's actions objectively, minus all of your idealizations.
CapricornCapricornLaci Jordan for xoNecole
Matters of career take precedence at the beginning of the month with the New Moon in Libra and so the next phase of your journey begins. Be mindful of power struggles with anyone in a position of authority. If you don't like being bossed around, then create an exit strategy to become your own boss. On the same day, Pluto goes direct in your sign, empowering you to recognize just how effective you are at making shit happen. Unlike some, you don't have a problem rolling up your sleeves and getting into the nitty gritty for the sake of the legacy you're building. When Venus enters Sagittarius on the 7th, your love life blossoms behind the scenes, making this a good time to enjoy some privacy at home with that special person in your life.
On the 10th, Saturn goes direct, moving money matters forward. Where you once felt restricted, the energy starts to open up again in the months to come. Mercury goes direct on the 18th, making it a good time to finalize any negotiations and contracts that have been hanging up in the air. On the 20th, the Full Moon in Aries brings an issue to the head amongst the home or family. The pressure to make a quick change to your environment may be looming over you at this time. When the Sun and Mars shift into Scorpio by the end of the month, your friends may be the source of stability that you need. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. You've got more people on your side than against you.
AquariusAquariusLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The New Moon in Libra on the 6th has you ready to spread your wings to take off on a new adventure, whether that involves you traveling to a place on your bucket list, enrolling in a spiritual workshop, or applying to go back to school. On the same day, Pluto goes direct and you can finally come up for air after doing some pretty intense soul-searching these past six months. Now it's time for you to apply these lessons you've been resolving into your daily life. When Venus shifts into Sagittarius on the 7th you're feeling the love amongst your friend group and may even want to celebrate your bonds with a long-awaited girls' trip.
On the 10th, Saturn goes direct encouraging you to embrace a little more structure and discipline. You're full of brilliant, progressive ideas. It's just time for you to really commit to them and follow through on your goals. When Mercury goes direct on the 10th, you could find yourself in the position of teacher or mentor to those that look to you for your expertise. Writing and public speaking figure strongly into this energy, making it a good time to get your message out there. The Full Moon on the 20th grants you the courage to say what you mean without fear of backlash. Some people are intent on misunderstanding you which is their problem—not yours. Towards the end of the month, the Sun and Mars enter Scorpio, giving you a much-needed boost to conquer your career goals.
PiscesPiscesLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The beginning of the month starts on a more quiet note for you with the New Moon in Libra. A silent partnership may be in the works for you around this time, which can grant you the leg up that you need to move your financial and business endeavors forward. On the same day, Pluto goes direct, helping you take a different approach to your friendships and social networks. After re-evaluating this area of your life these past six months, you're now more clear about who you want to join forces with. When Venus enters Sagittarius on the 7th, you're feeling the heat—whether it be from the pressure to step up to the plate in your career or a romantic attraction that is brewing between you and someone with a whole lot of influence.
On the 10th, Saturn goes direct, continuing this process of cleaning out the metaphorical trash in your subconscious. Limiting and restricting beliefs have to go for you to fully embrace your magic. When Mercury goes direct on the 18th, you're given the green light to sign off on any financial contracts. The Full Moon in Aries on the 20th liberates you from playing small. It's time to recognize your worth, raise your prices, and add tax. On the 23rd, the Sun shifts into Scorpio and is followed behind by Mars on the 30th inviting you to step into your power and role as a leader. You have no idea how many people you're inspiring on a daily basis but soon enough it will be made evident.
For more about zodiac signs, horoscopes, and astrology, check out xoNecole's Horoscopes section here.
Featured image by Laci Jordan for xoNecole
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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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Better Off Braless: The Benefits Of Not Wearing A Bra More Often
Somewhere between the start of the pandemic and entering the late stages of my 20s, bras become less and less of a priority.
Within that span of time, I, like most of the world, spent my days inhabiting my small bubble, staying in the house with loose-fitting loungewear, and being on Zoom calls that only required me to be presentable from the neck up. So as the demand to have my breasts at their perkiest form, so did my commitment to wearing bras.
The relationship that most women have with their bras is… well, complicated. While society has led us to believe that they’re required for us to be deemed as “ladylike” and “neat,” many of us find the garment to be a bothersome (and optional) accessory at best.
From underwires that poke and dig at our sides to push-ups that spill over, the argument in support of bras has begun to wane over the last few decades, with women of all cup sizes asking themselves if it’s better to just go braless.
Courtesy of Harper Wilde
“Many years ago, I ditched wired bras and opted for going braless out of a desire for freedom and celebrating natural human form,” multi-hyphenate Alyson Stoner tells xoNecole. The movement activist best known for their fly dance moves with the likes of Missy Elliott and on Step Up 2: The Streets, shares that when it comes to their bra selection, comfort is key. “As someone who enjoys moving their body, I found that I do want an underlayer that provides some support without interfering with comfort and mobility.”
A source of concern when choosing to go braless is whether or not the lack of support from a bra will, in turn, affect the firmness of one’s breast, resulting in early sagging. However, Sabrina Sahni, M.D., an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, shares that breast sagging is a result of age, not whether you’ve ditched your bras.
“Sagging breasts – also called ptosis – generally occurs due to chronic aging,” she tells xoNecole. “The breast is made up of a combination of glandular and fibrous tissue and fat tissue. Over time, the glandular tissue may become replaced with fattier tissue, and that can lead to more sagging. Wearing a bra or not wearing a bra ultimately does not change that.”
"Wearing a bra or not wearing a bra ultimately does not change that."
Women with heavier breasts may find that going braless may have its set of drawbacks, but Dr. Sahni says that you should always pay attention to your comfort levels since bras are a garment designed to support your back and correct your posture. “Those with heavier or larger breasts who choose to go braless may actually have worsening back/neck/shoulder pain,” she says. “Wearing a bra may allow them to correct their posture and help alleviate tension on those muscle groups.”
“Women with larger breasts may benefit from wearing a well-fitted, supportive bra as it may alleviate things like upper back pain or neck pain,” she shares.
Listening to your body is key when choosing whether you want to toss out your bras forever or just for a day. The beauty in a woman’s body is that it will tell us what we need to know before we even have to ask. There are common misconceptions about tighter bras being linked to causing health issues like breast cancer.
And while studies do show that Black women are “twice as likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer early when compared with Caucasian women,” the manifestation of this disease is predetermined by other varying factors.
“There are a lot of myths out there about going braless being better for breast cancer risk. It is completely false,” Dr. Sahni explains. “Whether or not you wear a bra does not have any bearing on your overall breast cancer risk. Ultimately, your risk is dependent on a variety of factors, including family history, your breast density, your lifestyle, and your reproductive history.”
If you’re looking for classic, weightless comfort that’s close to going braless, Alyson Stoner recommends Harper Wilde, a body-inclusive intimates brand on a mission to create a more comfortable world for womankind. They currently have a capsule collection with the intimates brand in partnership with their company, Movement Genius.
“Harper Wilde has been my go-to for years now because the materials are truly soothing on my sensitive skin, the amount of support feels like you're being gently hugged (not squeezed), and the styles are flattering and beautiful enough to wear as shirts or visible layers,” they say.
Courtesy of Harper Wilde
The brand offers super soft, breathable cotton fabric in their Triangle and Scoop Bralettes ($40 each) that will put the bliss and comfort back in your bosom.
Dr. Sahni says that choosing to opt out of bras or keep them close to your chest “truly depends on the individual” but it should be understood that “wearing or not wearing a bra won't significantly impact your overall health.”
“Ultimately, it comes down to comfort. There are some women with chronic breast pain where perhaps changing their bras to something more supportive and well-fitted may help,” she says. “Alternatively, some women find that going bra-less will alleviate their breast pain. I tell women that they should choose a bra that is comfortable for them, feels supportive, and one that they can wear regularly.”
So whether you choose to free the tatas or wear a bra that feels like it’s barely there, remember to listen to your body because ultimately, the choice is yours.
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