We all get to a point in our lives (especially girls) where we try to be perfect.
Does it start somewhere in second grade after picture day when you wear your frizzy hair out 'cause your mama says it's beautiful but all your "friends" laugh at you?
You grab the brush and gel and pull your beautiful big hair back into the tightest ponytail you possibly can to contain your unique hair in a bun — hiding a piece of who you are in order to fit into a picture of what others seem to see as perfection.
Yeah, that's one moment.
Or how about in junior high school? Where all the "pretty" girls are wearing lipstick and eyeliner and mascara. Some of them are so skilled they even look like those models in every magazine you ever read — the ones who made you feel slightly uncomfortable with yourself or misrepresented or just unseen.
It's another moment where some piece of you realizes that to fit in or be thought of as beautiful, you have to cover up to be a bit closer to perfect.
Yeah, that's another one.
Trust me, it didn't just end in junior high. I remember when I first started to be in the public eye. Oh my gawd! Everyone had something to say. "She's so hard, she acts like a boy, she must be gay, she should be more feminine!" But the truth is, I was just from New York, and everyone I knew acted like that.
In the streets of New York you had to be tough, you HAD to be hard, people needed to know that you weren't scared to fight!
But this wasn't the streets of New York. This was the harsh, judgmental world of entertainment and my biggest test yet. I started, more than ever, to become a chameleon. Never fully being who I was, but constantly changing so all the "they's" would accept me.
Before I started my new album, I wrote a list of all the things that I was sick of. And one was how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect. One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women. The constant stereotyping through every medium that makes us feel like being a normal size is not normal, and heaven forbid if you're plus-size. Or the constant message that being sexy means being naked.
All of it is so frustrating and so freakin' impossible.
I realized that during this process, I wrote a lot of songs about masks filled with metaphors about hiding.
I needed these songs because I was really feeling those insecurities.
I was finally uncovering just how much I censored myself, and it scared me. Who was I anyway? Did I even know HOW to be brutally honest anymore? Who I wanted to be?
I didn't know the answers exactly, but I desperately wanted to.
In one song I wrote, called "When a Girl Can't Be Herself," it says,
In the morning from the minute that I wake up / What if I don't want to put on all that makeup / Who says I must conceal what I'm made of / Maybe all this Maybelline is covering my self-esteem
No disrespect to Maybelline, the word just worked after the maybe. But the truth is … I was really starting to feel like that — that, as I am, I was not good enough for the world to see.
This started manifesting on many levels, and it was not healthy.
Every time I left the house, I would be worried if I didn't put on makeup: What if someone wanted a picture?? What if they POSTED it??? These were the insecure, superficial, but honest thoughts I was thinking. And all of it, one way or another, was based too much on what other people thought of me.