Normani: Being a Black woman, we have to work harder to be noticed

It seems like Normani has been on the verge for the past few years. She started out in Fifth Harmony, where she was unfortunately overlooked for a less talented sneerface with terrible bangs. As a solo artist, Normani has released an EP and like, seven singles since 2018, but her first album has been in the making for awhile. She’s a great singer and dancer and has gotten some shine in recent years. Hopefully she’ll really hit once her debut album comes out, and it sounds like that will be soon.

Normani spoke to Yahoo! Life as part of their body image series. She talked about having a positive body image and the way her upbringing played a part in that. She echoed a familiar refrain in a slightly different context: Black women have to work harder to be seen and noticed, or considered just as good.

Normani might be gearing up to release her debut album as a solo artist, but the singer and dancer continues to work with the mission of lifting other women up through her art.

At 25 years old, the Atlanta native has already been in the business for a decade after appearing on The X Factor in 2012 and becoming a part of the girl group Fifth Harmony. As she’s grown up in the spotlight, she’s worked to maintain a positive body image for herself and for the young Black women watching her.

“I constantly remind myself to be kind to myself,” she tells Yahoo Life. “Even though you can’t expect the rest of the world to do that, it’s like at the end of the day, somebody has to, so why not show up for yourself? Why not lift yourself up?”

As of late, Normani says she feels “very confident” and credits that attitude to the women that she’s been surrounded by throughout her life.

“A lot of that has to do with being raised in a household with women that I really, really looked up to. That being my grandmother, that being my mom,” she says. “And then my dad being the first man in my life that I love and him always encouraging that I was beautiful.”

The positive affirmations were an important step for Normani to appreciate her identity as a young Black girl, especially as she grew up going to a predominately white school. “It could have went a different route in how I was able to view myself,” she explains. “Not saying that I didn’t have those moments, but I’m definitely really, really grateful for their support and just the fact that they’ve always told me that I was beautiful and my chocolate skin makes me beautiful aside from what society says.”

Looking up to her parents and honoring the relationship that she has with them has also allowed her to embrace her natural beauty that she recognizes as part of them.

“I’m able to appreciate the things that give my body or my face character. I see my mom’s thighs and I see my dad’s nose and I just really, really appreciate that,” she says.

And since entering the public sphere as a teenager, Normani has worked to share that support and cultivate self-esteem among the people around her.

In celebrating women, she notes the particular obstacles facing Black women in her industry and those that paved the way.

“I feel the pressures too. Being 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 for me to have a Janet [Jackson] and have a [Beyoncé] with curves to find my place and to also know that, ‘OK she looks like me. And she’s successful. She’s beautiful and I can do the same thing.’ Little Black me needed to see that.”

[From Yahoo!]

It’s great that Normani had that stability and encouragement at home to help foster her confidence and make sure she knew that she was beautiful. Growing up in a predominantly white area can mess with women of color and their perceptions of their own beauty since there’s still so much value placed on Eurocentric beauty standards. Like, when I was 14, I randomly became convinced my nose and lips were too big because no one else’s looked like mine. But now I’m like people pay money to try to replicate these with fillers and they can’t because you can’t replicate perfection. And I’m positive Normani heard some variation of “you’re pretty for a Black girl” or “you’re the prettiest Black girl” because people at high schools like that really say that messed up stuff and think it’s a compliment. But it sounds like Normani had the support at home to navigate those situations and still come out of it with a strong and realistic self-image.

Normani has talked about feeling overlooked before, both as a child and later as a member of Fifth Harmony. I kind of wonder if that last graf excerpted is a sort of subtweet of a certain former bandmate? If so, excellent shade without ever saying her name. And if not, it still sort of applies. She’s right that Black women have to work extra hard to be seen or noticed. This is true throughout just, life, but it’s very obvious in the entertainment industry as well. It’s why Normani’s less talented, somewhat forgettable former bandmate was pushed hard for a solo career and no one really questioned it and Normani’s hype came later despite her being more talented. I’m glad Normani recognizes the significances of her beauty and self-confidence and success. I’m sure many young girls see themselves in her now, just like she saw herself in Janet and Beyonce back then.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

11 Responses to “Normani: Being a Black woman, we have to work harder to be noticed”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Belle says:

    As a black woman it’s not that we don’t get noticed, it’s the fact that they are preconceived notions about what we are that holds us back. Black women have shown time and time again that they are good, creative, hard workers, strong but all of that is negated because the world has us carrying around the “aggressive” title which by default is a no no for women regardless of your skin color. Black women are removed from all feminine characteristics. We are overlooked because too dominant, too aggressive, too manly, too loud, too much bad bitch energy. The perception of the world does not give us balance. We are held back for those reasons and a million more. We can’t make mistakes, we can’t be human, we have to be undoubtedly the best, we have to excel and we have to be the exception…. But that’s not how the world work. For the majority of ppl that walk the earth that are just mediocre by the defined standards, they don’t stand a chance. These preconceived notions are so harmful to black

    • Mel says:

      The never being allowed to have feelings besides being happy at work. People comment if your clothes are to nice, if they’re not nice enough. If you aren’t grinning like an idiot all the time , if you’re not friendly to all the time. If you’re fine being co-workers but you don’t need to be friends. If you move with confidence it’s a problem. YOUR HAIR!!!

  2. Mercury says:

    Black women are noticed but jealousy from other groups keeps them down. Also the fact that black women are seen as undeserving of status/wealth/happiness etc for some reason.

  3. sunny says:

    I hope Normani thrives. I cannot imagine how hurtful in must have been to experience racism from her bandmates and to see those less talented ones pushed by media for solo careers when she was much more talented.

  4. girl_ninja says:

    It’s an endless story that we as black woman get the short end of the stick and have to work extra hard for that damn stick. She is not only the most talented member from her former band, she’s the most compelling. She is beautiful, talented, hard working and seems so kind. I want her to be a star and she deserves star recognition. Unfortunately that racist little monster Camila Cabbage has received unwarranted success. But of course her fans are racists like her…

  5. Watson says:

    Camila cabello was and is trash and i will never forgive her for how Normani was treated. I wish Normani all the best.

  6. Katboo says:

    Normani has *it.* As a self professed Queen B stan, I am super skeptical of pretenders to her throne. But I knew when I saw Normani that she was cut from the same cloth. I’m loving watching her blossom.

  7. outoftheshadows says:

    She’s drop-dead gorgeous in every possible way, and it just goes to show how insidious white supremacy is that she would even think for a minute that she’s not an ideal beauty.

    I wish her every success. She’s really got talent.

  8. Green Desert says:

    I love this write up on Normani, with her quotes as well as your thoughts, Peridot. So good.

  9. teecee says:

    She’s extremely talented and correct about how much harder it is for black women. She also has the worst team around her, keeps picking bad songs, and is so aggressively sexualized in her music videos that it drives away most of the young women she wants in her fanbase. That video which literally started with her bent over in a close up shot of her nether regions – who is that for???

    If she just did a straight cover, not a sample, a cover of a 90s Aaliyah, Brandy, or Monica song, with a music video focused on her face, she would get much higher numbers than she has been getting. This goes for Chloe Bailey, too. That’s how bad their material is. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t execute, you can’t be surprised when you don’t find success.

    • Fabiola says:

      I was going to say the same thing. She needs to drop her team. They always dress her like a little Kim wannabe. It takes away from her talent. There’s nothing wrong with being sexy but for the genre she wants to break into it’s all wrong. She needs to be styled better if she wants to be a pop star.