The applauded singer spoke about the effects of being “beat down mentally” in relationships and how her upbringing helped shape her style.
This is Mary J. Blige’s season. The Queen of Hip Hop-Soul has been dominating since the ink hit the paper when she signed her first record deal decades ago, and in two weeks, she’s returning with yet another album. Blige recently shared her Dave East-assisted single “Rumors,” a track that received wide praise from fans. Good Morning Gorgeous, her forthcoming project, also reportedly hosts looks from Fivio Foreign, Usher, and Anderson .Paak, and ahead of its release, Blige chopped it up with Elle about her evolving style and not feeling confident for most of her life.
“I didn’t feel beautiful—like for real for real, not just ‘Hey, I’m pretty’ but actually believing it—until about 2016,” she told the publication. “If you’ve been beat down mentally by someone, you’re never pretty enough. You’re never smart enough. Nothing’s ever good enough.” Throughout her career, the Bronx native has held her own as it pertained to her style or her ever-changing hair, but it wasn’t always accepted.
Back in the late 1980s, the late-great music icon Andre Harrell signed Blige to Uptown Records, and while the streets adored her look, many in the industry often told her she was a bit rough around the edges.
“When I got in the business, I was already blonde. I was already red. I was already doing those colors. I wasn’t searching for an image. I was my own image,” she said. “Ghetto fabulous is just, when you come from the hood, you at your flyest. What can you afford? What can you do with it? You want stones on your nails. You want mad colors on your nails. You want colorful furs. You want Timberland boots to rock with your furs. You want a hockey jersey? It’s whatever you feel you can do with whatever you can afford.
“Growing up around drug dealers and the women that I hung out with, they wore furs—long sables and silver foxes and red lipstick. They were just fly. Men wore them, but when you saw a woman show up in one, you knew who she was.”
Good Morning Gorgeous arrives on February 11.