What Your Self-Esteem Wishes You Would Do This Year
Self-esteem is one of those words that we hear a ton, right? Tell me something. Whenever you do, what immediately comes to your own mind? While there are literally thousands of self-help books, blogs and articles on the topic, I think the easiest breakdown would be that self-esteem is about how you determine your own worth. The reason why this matters so much is because knowing what your worth is determines the choices that you'll make—and that can ultimately determine your destiny.
While, for a lot of my 40s, my self-esteem has been in a pretty good place, my 20s and 30s were a roller coaster ride because I didn't value myself as much as I should have. Some of it was due to generational curses. Some was due to having some really toxic people in my life. Some was due to simply not knowing how. However, now that I get just how special I am and how there are certain things that only I can contribute to this world, everything about how I choose to live my life is very different. A lot of it has to do with the following 10 tips that I'm about to share.
If this is the year that you are determined to boost your self-esteem, raise your own worth and then add tax, these steps can help to make that desire a true reality. Trust me. I am living proof.
1. Affirm Yourself on the Daily
I'm someone who firmly believes that if you want to understand a "tree", you need to spend some time evaluating its "roots". That's why I wrote articles for the site like "What If It's Your Parents Who Happen To Be The Narcissists?" and "How To Recover If You Had To 'Raise Your Parents' As A Child". Unfortunately, a lot of us did not get the affirming that we so desperately needed from our parents/loved ones/teachers/mentors while growing up or we received mixed messages from them (I can't tell you how many times I was told not to wear certain lip shades as a teen because my full lips would make it be "too much"; talk about a backhanded compliment, chile). And so, since the people we looked up to totally sucked at making some of us feel good about ourselves—at every stage of our childhood and adolescence—many of us grew up thinking negatively about ourselves as well. And that does nothing good for one's self-esteem.
You can't do anything about the past. What you can do is be intentional about lifting yourself up in the here and now. One way to do that is to write down 10-15 things that you genuinely like about yourself and post them somewhere that you can see them. Then make sure to state those things out loud, each and every day (add onto the list as more things come to mind too). Sound crazy? It's not. What's crazy is spending your life looking down on yourself when there is only one you, when you are a true gift to this planet and when tomorrow is not promised. Feel me?
2. Put Your Needs BEFORE Your Wants
While on the surface, this might seem like a crazy point, if you spend enough time in toxic patterns to the point where you want to break them, this will actually start to make perfect sense. Wisdom and maturity tend to teach us that everything we want isn't good for us. Example? There are quite a few men on my sex list who were fine and pretty good in bed who about destroyed my sense of self-worth and almost took my uterus out (long story).
I had to learn the hard way that a sign that you truly love and value yourself is you aren't so impulsive that you will go after something that you want without pondering if your mind, body, and spirit can all agree that you need that person, place thing or idea in your life. Because the reality is, a lot of what we want is designed to appease us while the very things that we need can truly fulfill us. Placing needs before wants are how the big girls live. You're grown, right? Choose wisely.
3. Stop Putting So Much on Your Plate
I don't know what makes so many of us believe that if we overextend ourselves, it's a good thing. Well actually, I do have one theory. I think some of us feel that if we put a ton on our plate, it will somehow prove our worth when really, all it does is wear us TF out, cause us to do things halfway, and oftentimes, it makes us resentful of those who don't appreciate the fact that we put ourselves in this position in the first place.
More times than not, when we have too much going on, that is totally on us because, there is such a thing as the word "no" (check out "The Art Of Saying 'No' To Things You Don't Want To Do"). There's not a ton of time and space to get into why so many of us struggle with this two-letter word that is a boundary and a lifesaver; however, one of my theories is when we were toddlers, a lot of us said that word incessantly. Because we ran it into the ground, our parents reprimanded us and so it went into our psyche that saying "no" is a bad thing when it really is nothing more than a limit.
If you want to do things right and well while maintaining your own peace of mind, you need to get into the habit of doing less so that you can do everything in excellence. Besides, here are no million-dollar checks being passed out to those who damn near kill themselves trying to accomplish as much as possible on any given day. For the sake of your health and well-being, pace yourself. It's a true act of self-care.
4. Forgive Yourself
You know what I find to be interesting. The folks who are typically the most critical of others also never give their own selves a break. Also, the ones who don't believe in forgiving other people are oftentimes the ones who never forgive themselves either. Lawd, if there are two things that many of us were taught an extremely poor definition of, it's what it means to love and to forgive. And because we don't really understand either, we choose to weaponize them both.
As far as forgiveness goes, I promise you that it's not about cosigning on the abuse, hurt or pain that someone has caused you. If I were to simplify forgiveness, it's about giving a wound the time and space that it needs to heal, so that you don't keep "picking at it" and infecting it all of the time. Because the reality is, a lot of people who believe that it's OK to dwell in a space of unforgivingness are actually the ones who either keep reliving what was done to them or they end up taking it out on other people—people who have absolutely nothing to do with what happened to them.
A wise person once said, "Remember, when you forgive you heal and when you let go, you grow." If you want to heal, forgive anyone who did something that hurt you. Including yourself. Watch how far this gets you in your self-development and in the relationships you have with others, moving forward.
5. Leave Toxicity TOTALLY Alone
There are some words that are tossed around so much that I don't think we really get how serious they are at this point. One of them is "toxic". For the record, people are human and humans make mistakes. So just because someone disappoints you or doesn't always live up to your expectations, that doesn't automatically or necessarily make them a toxic human being. Toxic is harmful. Toxic is damaging. Toxic is poison.
If you look up the definition of poison, one of the things that it states is it's something that will ultimately impair your overall health and well-being. When you're on a quest to love yourself in a truly productive way, you can't keep yourself around people, places, things and ideas that will hinder you from being mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, professionally, relationally or spiritually not so good. I don't care if it's a family member, a friend, a church, a job, a city, a relationship—life is too short and you are too precious to keep choosing what is keeping you from thriving. Let. It. Go.
6. Take More Risks
While it might seem odd to recommend that you take risks in order to build your self-esteem, here's why I think that it's such a good idea. Risks build confidence because, at the end of the day, what you are saying is that you trust yourself enough to do something that you've never done before or to try something that might seem a little out of the box.
In fact, I'd venture to say that many people who struggle with their self-worth do so because they doubt their capabilities more than they should. They don't think they're good enough to apply for a certain job. They don't think they're attractive enough to ask a certain someone out on a date. They don't think they are daring enough to take a trip to a place that they've never been before. Oh, but when they do it and realize (more times than not) that they made a bigger deal in their head than they ever should have, it helps them to walk away with a, "I really am bomb, ain't I?" mentality.
When you take a risk, only two things can happen—you can succeed or not. Either way, it's good for your self-esteem because the ultimate takeaway is you bet on yourself. That makes you courageous and the bolder you get, the stronger your self-esteem will become in the long run.
7. Partake in More Indulgence
This past January 9, I celebrated 14 years of abstinence. When my crew asked me what I did to celebrate, my answer was simple—I pampered myself. The day before my anniversary, I got a mani/pedi. The day of, I found a place to get my eyebrows arched (because for some reason, a threader does them too thin; I don't like that). I also copped some beautiful long-as-hell feather earrings. I ordered some oxtails (I dig me some oxtails). Then I chilled. It was wonderful.
I'm a giver. I'm really glad that God made me that way too. However, there used to be a time when I was giving to any and everyone but myself. No longer is that the case, though. I finally get that I deserve to indulge myself in things that make me feel beautiful and celebrated, just as much as anyone else does. And you know what? So. Do. You. If you want others to cherish and adore you, you've got to set the example. One way to do that is to pamper yourself. What's your plan for that this year?
8. Value Your Time
There's a quote by an author named H. Jackson Brown, Jr. that, minus the fact that there are no Black people in it (side-eye), I really like. It says, "Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein." If you substitute this with names like Oprah and Beyoncé, it really is crazy that we all have 24 hours and yet, some of us are either stagnant or in some sort of perpetual life cul-du-sac because we live ho-hum lives or we choose to do things that are a colossal waste of our time (check out "These Bad Habits Are Totally Wasting Your Time").
I don't care if it's a relationship, a job, a habit or anything else—take some time out to reflect on the fact that these past 10 years alone went by pretty fast and time only seems to be moving more swiftly the older that we become. With all of that said, a huge sign of not esteeming your worth is to let any person, place, thing or idea waste your time. I've shared what waste means before. It means "to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return". Did you peep that "without adequate return" part? If you're out here spending hours on social media or watching television, that can be a waste of time, sho 'nuf. At the same time, if you're constantly putting in more than you're getting back whether it's a person, place, thing or even an idea, that is also wasting your time. You're better than that. Stop it. Not later. Now please.
9. LOVE YOUR BODY AS IT IS
I seriously doubt that if we didn't see as much of other people's bodies as we do, that we'd struggle with our own body image so much. Comparing ourselves to others is so ridiculously counterproductive. Besides, I've shared before that one of the most romantic things that I've ever heard a husband say about his wife is what he physically loved about her is "when God made her, he had me in mind". I know the couple personally and the wife is no traditional Coca-Cola bottle. It doesn't matter to him. She's got what he likes. How beautiful is that?
All of us have our own personal opinions about things like cosmetic surgery. No time to get into all of that. What is important is making sure that you don't hate your body simply because it's not like so-and-so. Who cares?
You've got the same Creator that everyone else has and just think about how you would feel if something you made told you that you totally jacked it all up just because it doesn't look like something else that you designed? A healthy body image is not only healthy to have but super sexy too. Make it a point to celebrate your individuality. Watch how much higher your self-esteem gets once you do.
When it comes to the topic of resting, one of my favorite quotes is, "If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit." (A street artist by the name of Banksy is credited with saying it.) It might be a bit of an "ouch" to hear, but a part of the reason why a lot of us don't accomplish all that we desire to isn't that we're not capable; it's because we overlook bare essentials like eating right and resting well. Listen, getting 6-8 hours of sleep at night is not a luxury; if you want to fully function on all cylinders, it is an absolute necessity.
While we're here, it should also go on record that rest isn't just about catching some zzz's. Rest also includes knowing what you need to do in order to refresh yourself. Something that can help you to figure out what type of rest your mind, body, and/or soul requires is to check out the article, "You're Tired AF. But What Kind Of Rest Do You Need?". By honoring that you need to love yourself enough to sleep soundly and rest internally, you are well on your way to proving that you're worth a million bucks and that nothing or no one should treat you as any less than that. The cool thing is you'll be alert enough to pinpoint the jokers who try and make you feel otherwise. Get some rest, sis. Your self-esteem depends on it—it really is a wonderful act of self-love.
These are just 10 things but they are 10 powerful ones. I'm telling you, once you know how precious you are, it's damn near impossible for anyone or anything to shake you. The year has just begun. Go into it with high self-esteem. The world will be your oyster if you do!
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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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Queen Latifah On Her Journey To Self-Acceptance: 'I've Been Trying To Maintain My Freedom To Be Me'
Actress and rapper Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens is defying societal standards by refusing to be confined in a box regarding her personal and professional life.
Owens, who has been a part of the entertainment industry for over three decades, is widely recognized for her empowering songs and the variety of acting roles she has obtained throughout her career, among other things. The list includes Living Single, Set It Off, Chicago --with which she earned an Oscar nomination-- Just Wright, Girls Trip, and most recently, The Equalizer series on CBS.
Owens is also very tight-lipped about her personal life. However, in 2021, The Last Holiday actress showed appreciation to Eboni Nichols, who is reportedly her partner, and their son Rebel after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.Since then, Owens has revealed why she doesn't want to be defined as anything but herself and how she maintains her sense of freedom. In a resurfaced video from theGrio Awards, Owens opened up about those topics when she accepted the Television Icon Award for her past contributions
In a clip uploaded on theGrio's Instagram account last week, Owens explained that she often had to fight to be herself because "the world" kept trying to put her in a box based on what society thought a woman should be.
"My whole life, I feel like I've been trying to maintain my freedom to be me. And the world is trying to put these things on me to stop me from being who I am," she said.
Further into the speech, Owens explained that although many would have their own opinion about her from what the media spews out, she would continue to be herself by wearing "beautiful gowns and dresses," playing in the dirt, participating in basketball games with men and loving who she loves because that's what makes her happy.
The Beauty Shop star also added that despite her celebrity status, she would continue to show respect for others because that's who she is as a person and how she was raised.
"So I wear these beautiful gowns and dresses because I want to because that's part of me. I play in the dirt. I play basketball with the boys because that's me,” she stated. "I love who I love because that's me. I love all of you who have supported me. I give you your respect. I don't have to be above you because that's me. I know me."
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