Keke Palmer recently appeared on The Best Podcast Ever with Raven and Miranda and revealed that she recently made the choice to explore her life more and begin living as a free spirit. For those of us that know Keke Palmer, she’s always been a free spirit. But in this context, she’s referring specifically to her sexuality.


“There was a moment in my life where I was like ya know, can I be myself? The moment where you overthink s–t,” she said. “That’s not even me, why am I overthinking this? I guess you just get to the point where I want my life to be my own life.”

Now 29, she said she was 17 years old when she acknowledged her sexual openness and started accepting herself more. She also says that she didn’t “live out” certain experiences in relationships, like being with women, because she didn’t want her family knowing that she was interested in exploring options other than a relationship with a man, despite her parents being open and accepting.

“Sexuality and stuff like that…my parents never even cared about something like that or talked about that,” she explained. “And I know that by the time they saw how free of a spirit I was, and whoever I wanted to date, they were like, ‘Who cares.’ It was never anything that was in their mind.”


I’ve written before about the complexities of being a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and coming from a Black family. Sometimes it means delaying your coming out until later in life, sometimes it means coming out without ever really saying the words, “I’m gay”, and in other cases, if you’re Black, gay, and a celebrity, like Lil Nas X, it can mean giving a huge middle finger to the widespread homophobia in certain cultures.

But what Keke is saying is different. It’s not that her family wouldn’t have been accepting of what appears to be bi-curiosity, she just so happened to stay the heterosexual course, saying that the fact that she also liked men made her feel like she was fine without exploring relationships with women. 

“Because I like guys too, it was like that’s another extra thing that no one really has to know about. I don’t really have to live out,” she said, adding, “I ultimately just feel like the acceptance of that part of myself, in general, was a part of my process of being able to have love in my life.”


After an intense few weeks following an incident where the father of her child, Darius Jackson, shamed her on social media for an outfit she wore to see Usher performing at his Las Vegas residency, which I wrote about here, Keke has really been tapping into her true self. We all know she’s always been at least somewhat tapped into her true self, but this time, it’s different. And I think her tapping even more into herself this time has to do with a few things – but it mostly has to do with the incredibly powerful and transformative intersection that Keke is currently sitting at in her life. 

Though I don’t want to give him any credit whatsoever, I do believe that the first thing this glow up has to do with is that man she seems to have left in the dust after the Twitter incident. Despite the fact that there hasn’t been any official confirmation on whether the pair have split, through recent interviews and her posts on social media, she is giving us all the indications that he is no longer a concern of hers and she is focused on herself and her son.


Since the incident, she’s doubled down on her clothing choices, sharing photos of her looking absolutely radiant in outfits he probably wouldn’t approve of. She’s been nominated for an Emmy, she’s continued bravely speaking her truth in multiple podcast appearances, and on top of all of that, she was the July Cut cover, which brings me to my next point.

The second thing behind her tapping more into her true self is the likelihood that she is experiencing something called matrescence. Simply put, matrescence is the transition that takes place in a woman’s life physically, hormonally, psychologically, socially and spiritually after having a child. And unlike fourth trimester “baby blues” or full-on post-partum depression women often experience, matrescence is the exact opposite. Matrescence is a bit more like an enlightenment. A renaissance if you will.

As with most conversations surrounding ideas that may empower women, it’s not something talked about nearly enough in mainstream media. But content creators on TikTok are definitely talking about it. There are several creators that make videos about matrescence, but I feel the essence of it is well captured in this expletive-laden one.


The reason I chalk up Keke in her new era to her being in whatever space she’s in with Darius and matrescence is because it’s clear as day to anyone who can read between the lines. This is a woman who grew up as a child star and had a lot of people to please. While she’s always done an amazing job at staying true to herself, the experience she had with Darius trying to humiliate her in front of the world put her at a crossroads. She was faced with the decision of submitting to his ideas and expectations and aligning more with a very archaic, traditional understanding of what it means to be a mom or going on her way and doing motherhood on her terms. 

The day that debacle unfolded, she remained quiet for a few hours as support flooded in. And I think seeing that, for the most part, the world had her back, was validating, empowering and encouraging. Because she already had a very healthy pre-existing sense of self, the support she received was a nitro-boost and has propelled her to where we see her now, just weeks after. And it’s an era that she has dubbed her “big boss era”. 

“After having my baby, I’ve just gotten so much more powerful,” she told The Cut. “I’m just so strengthened in a crazy way. Strutting my stuff, enjoying.”

Keke went on to say that she was quite self-conscious prior to becoming a mom, which she says is normal when you’re in the public eye. She said with the amount of attention paid to one’s physical body when you’re in the spotlight, being “slim” and “fit” was a priority to her. But since having her son, that’s changed.

“I was trying to work with my trainer…and he was just like, ‘Well, we are never going to try and get your body back to how it was before a baby because you birthed a child,’” she said. “That’s not something to hide, that’s something to embrace. We’re going to lean into this new body. That is the whole aura of what’s happening with me in this big boss era as I come into my 30s and I have my baby boy. I’m just continuing to spread my wings as a young woman.”


That is what matrescence sounds like. The acknowledgement that you will never be who you were before, but who you are now can be so much better! You may never look like that person again, but rather than mourn that loss, celebrate the you that lays ahead. There is so much room for celebration and so much room for possibility.

The very last thing I think her entering her big boss era has to do with is something else she mentioned – turning 30. There are many periods in our lives where we experience a coming-of-age. And while some might argue that 30 is not the milestone birthday that people make it out to be, and rightfully so, it’s still a very transformative time. We’ve seen this with stars like Emma Watson, who had a lot more to say than she usually did in her 33rd birthday caption. 

I don’t sit and wish breakups on couples. But I do celebrate when I see a woman step more boldly into the world after letting go of the hand of the man that held her back from being her true self. We saw this with Kristin Cavallari, we’ve seen this with Emily Ratajkowski, we’ve seen this with Julia Fox, and I’ve seen it with myself after every single break up I’ve endured. Keke is bursting at the seams with wisdom, personality, talent, and love. And I have a feeling that the next few years are going to be a wild ride for her and her fans. We should all buckle up for the big boss.

Here's Keke throwing the first pitch at the Cubs vs White Sox game the other day in Chicago.