Last month, I wrote about Normani covering the October issue of Teen Vogue where she told the magazine her debut solo album was “close” and how quarantine brought a welcomed halt to the hustle and bustle of the music industry. This time around, Normani’s on the December issue of Women’s Health, and while she once again talks working on her long awaited debut (still no release date) and how she’s using this time in quarantine to concentrate, she’s getting a lot more introspective — as we all have this year — and sharing how she’s empowering herself.
First, can we talk about how glaringly typical this cover is? The people over at Women’s Health need to shake things up a bit. Every month it’s the same pose, with the rock-hard midriff front and centre, they just swap out the celebrity. It makes the NOT CANCELLED: ABS! headline feel like maybe Women’s Health is the only one not in on the joke. Yes, last month Kelly Rowland was pregnant on the cover, but I don’t think any of their readers thought abs were cancelled. Normani’s cover isn’t creative or memorable, but she does looks fantastic. She always does. When you get to the interview, though, the focus isn’t about looking great, it’s about feeling great — which wasn’t always the case with Normani. Especially during her girl group days with Fifth Harmony, which took a toll of her self-worth, after being overlooked for opportunities and being targeted by racist bullying from certain sections of the band’s fanbase.
“That alters the perception you have of yourself. Having certain things happen so blatantly while also feeling like the ‘other’ and being so young and hearing the public compare [us] took a toll on my confidence. For a long time, I didn’t believe in myself because I didn’t feel like I was given the opportunity to.”
Now she’s concentrating on her relationship with her inner-self through meditation. She says when she wakes up, before she talks to anyone, or even checks her phone she prays and does breathing exercises, and all of that forms a foundation which helps her handle the day. I can’t imagine waking up and not immediately checking my phone. How do you know if you’re somebody who would benefit from meditation or if you’re somebody who thrives in a fast-paced world? I really think I’m the latter. I hate stillness. But, I also don’t want to wake up at 65 years old and realize I would be in a better place had I made meditation a priority.
She’s also doing yoga, and recently started looking at herself in the mirror and practicing words of affirmation: You are beautiful. You are important. You are one of the greatest entertainers. You are a representation for an entire generation. Now this is something I agree we should all be doing. Early in my career I would avoid volunteering for things I was unfamiliar with because I’m not a confident person. Now I try and just volunteer for anything and say yes to any new task asked of me. I have to fake the confidence, because believing in yourself is the biggest hurdle. Once I get past that I can figure anything else out. I may have to ask for help or teach myself something by watching a YouTube tutorial, but I’ll succeed. Just bet on yourself first. Normani’s doing just that when it comes to working on that lonnng delayed debut album.
“For a long time, I was stressed out about checking boxes like, ‘Is this Black enough? Is this pop enough?’But music started feeling way better when I just went into the studio with the mentality of being Normani.”
Pre-2020 I asked myself similar questions in my work-life: Is this too Black? Is this leaning into popular culture enough? Nowadays, I’ve thrown that mentality out the window. We all have to believe that we’re invited into certain spaces and we’ve gotten to where we are because people wanted us and not the other candidate. So give them what they paid for.