I'm absolutely not, in any shape, form or fashion, a Trump fan. Never have been. Adding to that, I give major side-eye to anyone who is, including the evangelicals who claim he is doing "the Lord's work". Shoot, you can walk on over to Isaiah 1:17(NKJV) and read, "Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow" and then line that up with Matthew 12:33 ("a tree is known by its fruit") and see that him doing the kind of work that God would be proud of is super suspect (to put it mildly). But when someone recently asked me about what I personally think is the worst thing that Trump has done to this country—so far, anyway—although the list is LONG, I chose to mention something that I feel is very underrated—"Trump has made a lot of Americans more insecure, unbelievably hypersensitive, extremely narcissistic and, well, bullies."
If you've even spent a day trying to stomach all of the president's "Trump yells" (I call his tweets that because about 90-95 percent of them end up with exclamation points), you'll see that he is quite the tyrant. So long as someone agrees with him, it's all good. Oh, but as soon as someone doesn't? Well, he pulls stunts like the title of this article—"White House to Federal Agencies: Cancel New York Times and Washington Post Subscriptions". If you don't agree with, like or condone what he has to say, you should be silenced. Tell me that's not the same energy that you see on social media, at your place of employment, and perhaps even across from your own dinner table on a regular basis. If you agree with me, cool. If you don't, STFU.
This one article isn't going to totally change our climate. I know that. But when I recently read that the hip-hop artist Nas has grown weary of how much we refer to Illmatic as being his best work, I thought about one of my own personal faves that isn't featured on that classic project. The song is "One Mic".
In response to a culture that seems to be getting more infected with the combo of fear and ego by the day, I just want to take a moment to use my one voice to say 1) you have the right to have the views that you do and 2) you can do that while still respecting the views of others, even though others may not be doing it in return. Here's how.
Implement the Golden Rule
One of my first writing gigs gave me the opportunity to interview one of the most real and pleasant artists I've met to this day—Amel Larrieux. One of the things that we talked about is although she considered herself to be far more spiritual than religious, a biblical principle that she did make a point to instill into her children was the Golden Rule—"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (Although it's phrased a bit differently, the basic principle is found in Matthew 7:12). She said it is one of the best ways for all of us to be more loving and tolerant. Amen.
I remember once hearing that the way we treat others, it tends to speak volumes about how we feel about ourselves. That said, ain't it a trip how folks will profess their views and feelings on something and then, once you say something contrary, not only are you wrong, but some people will cuss you out, tell you how much of a hater that you are, and then, they will try and intimidate you into not sharing your perspective ever again? Oh, but let that same person be treated in the way that they treated you and suddenly, they are a victim.
Some things are a matter of flat-out right or wrong. No doubt about it. But a billion more things are based on opinion and perspective. For those matters, when you make a point to respond in the way that you would want someone to respond to you (hopefully that is a kind, thoughtful and non-threatening manner), it's amazing how much they are willing to hear you out. And when there are less monologues and more dialogues transpiring, it's kind of amazin', how much growth can happen—between both individuals.
Always Keep People’s Personal Paths in Mind
I am the kind of person who is far more interested in the "root" of a person than their actual "tree". What I mean by that is, all of us have paths and experiences that result in who we are today. So, whenever I encounter someone who couldn't be more different than I am when it comes to their views, philosophy or even lifestyle, I like to know what brought them to their particular point and place. I also encourage them to listen to some of what got me to where I am as well.
For instance, I recently had a conversation with someone about marriage and divorce. When I shared some of my views and they immediately told me how wrong and "crazy" I was, I calmly asked, "So, you're basically telling me that the Bible is wrong because that is where I'm pulling my convictions from. And if you are, if you're telling me to concede to you rather than stand on what I believe is wrong, isn't that a form of idolatry? Isn't that placing your over my own values and principles?" It was crickets after that.
It wasn't my job to try and make others see things my way. It didn't need to be their job to make me submit to theirs either. At the same time, we've all heard the saying, "Seek first to understand, then be understood." One of the best and most effective ways to respect someone's path that is unlike your own is to do just that. To not cause "accidents" by always trying to force other folks "into your lane". And yes, y'all, that goes both ways.
Gut Check Your Own Confidence and Security Levels
I'm not on social media. I haven't been for almost a decade now, and while I'll pull a Brandy and "Never Say Never" about not coming back on, I can tell y'all that I am at perfect peace being without it. Although I must say that, back in my Facebook days, it was pretty lit because it was basically a social commentary page. I would post stuff, encourage comments and, one of my rules was that I never pulled comments off—no matter how much I disagreed or even if I was attacked for my own statements. Sometimes things would get so heated that people would get mad, block me and then talk about me on their page. Still, most times, it was hard to get mad because I was kind of like, "I mean, if you are so firm in your beliefs, why are you so threatened by mine?"
All these years later, I still feel that way. Whenever I do get triggered by someone else's perspectives or opinions, the first thing that I try and do is get to the root of why it bothers me so much. More times than not, it's either due to how they presented their perspective, because they are trolling (trolling really is the absolute worst) or, it's because their words challenged me to push past myself and dig deeper—whether I liked it or not.
If you're someone who seems to always be mad when someone thinks or says something that is contrary to how you feel, take a moment to reflect on why it's got you so heated. You might realize that it has very little to do with them and more to do with your own sense of confidence and security levels. Especially when it comes to folks in cyberspace who you don't know and probably will never see. Because really, why should they affect you so profoundly? Unless they've got a point that you weren't prepared to consider and that's got you totally out of your comfort zone. #hmm
Don’t Let the Influence of Fame Make You a Hypocrite. Or a Bully.
Again, because the world is on-10 when it comes to hypersensitivity, I'll leave specific names and particulars out. But over the past few months, I have seen celebrities get caught doing the very thing that they berate others about. They will talk about folks but once they are discussed, now there's a crusade to silence their critics. Or, they will tell others about the kinds of folks they should and should not be friends with based on their friend's political or religious views, but the very moment they are seen with someone who is just like the individuals they preach against, suddenly it's all about empathy. Not only is taking this kind of approach majorly hypocritical, it can also be the trait of a bully.
Why do I say that? In a nutshell, bullies are "a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people". I also say that because of what the traits of a bully consists of—always needing to control and dominate other people; being quick to pop-off on others; being intolerant of the differences of other people; having a poor sense of impulse control, and having a sense of inferiority. This is a bully, y'all. How often do you see this acted out on a daily basis? When people are out here trying to convert folks into believing just like they do or cancel them when they don't, how many bullying tactics are tied into that? Voltaire once said, "If you want to know who controls you, look at who you are not allowed to criticize." Or even think differently than. Folks who try and control others? They are bullies.
The reason why celebrity culture is able to bully so effectively is not really because of their power, but how a lot of us see ourselves; it's because a lot of us "elevate" them when they really should be no more than appreciated. Maybe sometimes admired.
I recently watched a video on hip-hop artist Lecrae's YouTube channel and he brought up a good point. At the end of the day, even after all of the awards and money, "You're still gonna be a person who has death in your family, still gonna have insecurities, still gonna be tired, still gonna be hungry…all I'm trying to say people is work hard and do it out of love." Right.
People are just people. So, don't allow the influence of famous folks to have you out here being a hypocrite or a bully to others. Don't try and push points on people that you are not applying yourself and don't try and intimidate others into feeling like they are smaller or weaker than you are, simply because they are different. To do either of these things, it is the epitome of being disrespectful.
Stop Trying to “Convert” Others. Don't Be Obsessed with "Cancelling" Them Either.
Something that inspired me to pen this piece was a tweet that I saw not too long ago. Someone tweeted out that a celebrity was recently praised for how quickly she lost weight following her pregnancy. The person wasn't congratulating that individual, though. What they immediately said after was when we praise someone for losing weight, what we're actually doing is fat-shaming. They made sure that it was written in all caps too. Brother.
That might sound ridiculous, straight out of the gate, but let that way of thinking get repeated in the press for a month straight and you might be surprised by just how many other folks will end up jumping on the bandwagon. While that tweeter thought that they were making some profound point, really with all of that yelling (because that's basically what writing in all caps conveys) and trying to silence people who disagreed were doing was trying to convert others. Then, if they could make that happen, they would probably say that those who disagreed should be cancelled.
Have you ever looked up the definitions of convert and cancel? To convert is "to turn to another or a particular use or purpose; divert from the original or intended use". To cancel is "to make void; revoke; annul". When a view or perspective is abusive or putting someone in harm's way, that is one thing. But all of us are individuals. This means that all of us are unique. We have different purposes. Should this reality be revoked or annulled simply because it doesn't match another's?
I'm a Bible follower. No doubt about it and I offer no apologies for it. But I also have people I adore who come from totally different religions and opinions. They don't try and convert me. I don't try and cancel them. Where we find common ground, cool. Where we don't? We try and respect that we don't because they are them and I am me. It's beautiful how much peace can be maintained, just with this point alone. This brings me to my final suggestion.
Know What It Truly Means to Agree to Disagree. Then Do It.
We've all heard the phrase "agree to disagree" before, but what actually does it mean? In a nutshell, it's when two opposing parties decide to "cease fire" in the sense of no longer arguing over a particular point. Some people might see this as a passive aggressive approach to matters, but c'mon—we all know there are some things that two people are never going to see eye to eye on. The thing that we need to ask ourselves is, "Why is that such a problem?"
One of my clients? They couldn't be more opposite of me on the political tip. They have actually said some things that I know would get them blocked on social media by some of my friends. But I get that they are the way that they are via their own life journey; that a lot of what they think isn't "bad", it's just not what I'm on. I must admit that we had one political debate that ended up being more draining more than anything because it wasn't like there was a prize at the end of the discussion. After that lil' chat, I said to them, "There are so many other things that we see in similar ways. Let's not let politics get us in that space again."
It's not that I'm afraid of confrontation. Anyone who knows me can certainly vouch for that. It's just that time—and hopefully wisdom—are teaching me that agreeing to disagree oftentimes translates into "don't sweat the small stuff". When you value your peace, your relationships and the time that you will never get back, you begin to accept that one way to honor others, and yourself, is to agree to disagree; to be OK with the reality that not everyone is like you. To have your say, to allow them to do the same, and to sometimes, simply leave it at that.
I'm learning more and more to do that because, well, it's the respectful thing to do, and you can never go wrong with respect—or self-respect. In a world that is getting further away from embracing this fact, never lose sight of it because, as a freelancer by the name of Annie Gottlieb once said, "Respect is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique."
We're not supposed to be clones of one another. Our differences are what helps us all to grow and evolve into better beings.
Give the same kind of respect you want to receive. Watch how much better the quality of your life becomes because of it. That's not a hunch. It's a guarantee.
Did you know that xoNecole has a podcast? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to join us for weekly convos over cocktails (without the early morning hangover.)
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
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Social Media: How To Take Back Control Of What You're Consuming
Here's How To Know You're At Total Peace With Yourself
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Feature image by Giphy
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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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
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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Feature image by Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images