It figures is Yahoo Life’s body image series that delves into the journeys of influential and inspiring characters as they explore what self-confidence, body neutrality, and self-love mean to them.
Normani may be preparing to release her debut album as a solo artist, but the singer and dancer continues to work on the mission of lifting other women up through her art.
As a 25-year-old, the Atlanta native has already been in the business for a decade after performing on X Factor in 2012 and became part of the girl group Fifth Harmony. As she has grown up in the spotlight, she has worked to maintain a positive body image for herself and for the young black women who see her.
“I’m constantly reminding myself to be kind to myself,” she tells Yahoo Life. “Even though you can not expect the rest of the world to do it, it’s like at the end of the day that someone should, so why not show up for yourself? Why not lift yourself up?”
Of late, Normani says she feels “very confident” and credits the attitude to the women she has been surrounded by throughout her life.
“A lot of it has to do with growing up in a household with women that I really, really looked up to. Being my grandmother, being my mother,” she says. “And then my dad was the first man in my life that I love, and he always encouraged me to be beautiful.”
The positive affirmations were an important step for Normani in appreciating her identity as a young black girl, especially as she grew up attending a predominantly white school. “It could have gone a different way in how I was able to see myself,” she explains. “I’m not saying I did not have those moments, but I am certainly really, really grateful for their support and just the fact that they have always told me I was beautiful and my chocolate skin makes me beautiful apart from that community . say.”
Looking up to her parents and honoring the relationship she has with them has also allowed her to embrace her natural beauty, which she recognizes as part of them.
“I’m able to appreciate the things that give my body or my face character. I see my mother’s thighs, and I see my father’s nose, and I just really appreciate that,” she says.
And since entering the public sphere as a teenager, Normani has been working to share that support and cultivate self-esteem among the people around her.
“I’ve always wanted to be in a girls’ group. I just love being part of a team,” she says, adding that she grew up participating in competitive gymnastics and dance. “I know what it’s like to be a part of something. I’ve always loved lifting women up.”
She continues, “We come in so many different shapes and forms and shades, and I think it deserves to be celebrated.”
This spirit continues to show in Normani’s work as a solo artist as she includes several other black women and bodies in her music videos and performances on stage. Most recently, she has partnered with Frito-Lays Cracker Jack to introduce Cracker Jill in an effort to celebrate women’s success and advances in sports.
When she celebrates women, she notices the particular obstacles that black women face in her industry and those that paved the way.
“I also feel the pressure. As a black woman, just to be seen or noticed, we have to do a lot more and work 10 times as hard,” she explains. “It was so important to me to have a Janet [Jackson] and has one [Beyoncé] with curves to find my place and also know that ‘OK she looks like me. And she’s successful. She’s beautiful and I can do the same. ‘ Little black me needed to see it. “
With the release of his latest single, “Fair”, Normani has taken that confidence and vulnerability to another level by revealing himself at his most undressed both physically and emotionally.
“It’s liberating for me, to be completely honest, and also pretty scary to be so vulnerable. It’s also OK not to be okay in front of everyone. There’s beauty in it, and that’s what makes you human,” she says. “I think a lot of the time people put on kind of celebrities like this pedestal and assume we do not feel hurt in the same way that they do or betrayed. That’s all that this plate embodies.”
She adds: “If you want to get to know me, I feel like this particular record is close to Normani.”
-Video produced by Olivia Schneider
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