Last night, Rihanna, the supreme millennial pop princess, bared the vulnerabilities of her soul in a Next Chapter interview with Oprah. It was as authentic, frank, and raw of an interview as others that the Queen of Talk has conducted with megastars in the past. But this particular conversation was inimitably striking. We expected Mother Oprah to pose brutal, honest questions that humanized RiRi and forced her to share her innermost thoughts and pains. But none of us could have anticipated the Talk that Talk beauty’s candid answers. From discussing her dear Gran Gran Dolly, who died this summer, to explaining her eternal love for Chris Brown, Rihanna reminded the world that she’s still that sweet, humble brown girl from the small island of Barbados.
At 24, Rihanna is wiser than most people twice her age. I and other Gen Y women have been schooled. Here are a few lessons I learned from her no-questions-barred interview.
Forgive, Forgive, Forgive
When Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna on that crisp, fated night in February 2009, it inextricably linked them together forever. Whenever Rihanna’s name is Googled the incident with Brown ranks near the top of the first page, along with her individual accomplishments and accolades. She has to live with the emotional scars of his beating forever.
But regardless of how devastating that assault was for the Barbadian crooner, when O asked Rihanna if she had forgiven Chris Brown for his reprehensible behavior, she said,
“We’ve been working on our friendship again, and now we’re very very close friends, we’ve built a trust… and that’s it. We love each other and we probably always will.”
A lot of women were puzzled at RiRi’s responses to Oprah’s inquiries about Chris, especially since it appeared that she was still protective of him. But love isn’t black and white, folks. All that Rihanna was accustomed to shifted overnight. She went from burgeoning artist on the brink of superstardom to a martyr for domestic violence and women’s groups. But forgiving her ex frees her from the burdening shackles of emotional baggage. She can never forget the bruises that Brown inflicted; but forgiving him is the first step toward healing.
We should all adhere to the art of forgiveness.
Megastars Feel, Think and Hurt Too
One of the most powerful quotes from this exclusive interview was this:
“I’m super-duper afraid of the pedestal that comes with fame.”
What a powerful statement from one of the world’s most influential artists. Let’s put this into context. Ari Melber, a Nation magazine correspondent, tweeted that Rihanna’s online fan base is equivalent to the 14th largest country on Earth. She might not be as vocally talented as other women in the R&B and pop worlds, but RiRi has blazed a scorching success trail – and she has no intentions of stopping her reign.
But through her tears and her insistence that fame is lonelier than the world presumes it to be, Robyn Fenty reminded us that she, and other celebrities, are humans too. They have seasons in their lives, their breakups are painful, and their tribulations help them mature and learn more about themselves. We’ve watched Rihanna globetrot through Instagram and Twitter, visiting islands we’ve dreamed of and performing in front of millions of people, so it is simple to forget that she is entitled to human emotions. This interview was a refreshing awakening.
Parenting Shapes our Futures
RiRi realized how significant her relationship with her father was after the events that transpired with Brown. Though she was fortunate to have a doting dad, she witnessed his abusive tendencies as a husband and buried that within her subconscious. It warped her perspectives on love and forgiveness. After she mended her hurts with her father, Rihanna was able to reconcile a friendship with Brown and forge forward with her healing process.
Whether or not we care to admit it, parents are essential to our growth. I know the importance of building solid relationships with parents since I have one with both of mine. I’m the ultimate daddy’s girl; he has set the standard for other men and I tolerate a lot less than other women that I’m acquainted with because of his love and teachings about expectations. His presence has been vital in developing a unique womanhood with values and morals. Effective parenting can shape our futures.
It is possible for someone to survive without their biological parents. We’re not all blessed to develop functioning relationships with them; but know that a parental void can impact future relationships.
Fake it until its Believable
The S&M superstar, who is rebellious and open about her sexual exploits, was never as comfortable as she appeared to be as she winded her hips in videos and on stage. She faked it until she believed it. That communicates insecurities about being comfortable in whom we are, but sometimes, faking it is essential to our lives. If YOU aren’t confident, fake it! Show up and show out until it’s second nature.
You don’t have to be Superwoman
Rihanna was concerned that she would appear weak on camera especially since she opened up so much of herself to Oprah. But rather than relating to her plight, Oprah gently reminded the endorsement diva that tears aren’t a sign of weakness. Her emotional moments on camera would make her appear real to the audience. As usual, mother O was accurate. We fell harder for Rihanna as we watched her open herself and her world to us. Her name trended on Twitter for hours.
Rihanna’s vulnerable moments teach us that we don’t have to put on the brave façade all the time. Yes, tears are a sign of strength because those clear droplets of water require us to face our pain without emotional guard walls. That is an act of a superwoman. But at some point, it is acceptable to step into the telephone booth and return to life as Clark Kent. Rihanna teaches us that. She is a born rebel that broke out of the music world’s confining image to forge her own. But she’s still susceptible to pain and has defense mechanisms to combat them. That’s normal. You don’t have to be superwoman.