Estelle Estelle

VV Digital Cover March 2012: Estelle, All Dressed Up In Love

Estelle wasn’t always this confident. Picture a spindly teenager with protruding boobs and a booty most women (and men) would slaughter for. “I always thought I was too skinny. And then I started getting boobs and I stayed skinny. I got a butt and I stayed skinny. And then I could fit all the couture clothes and I stayed skinny. It was great!” She chuckles. “Growing up skinny, you get called a rake, a mop. It’s as much as the chubby girls. I got some shape and I was like, Okay I’ll rock out with it.”

Curvy and well fed nowadays (thanks to her wildly successful 2008 stateside debut, Shine, and mentor John Legend), the U.K. import once teased for her crooked teeth exudes coolness and certainty. Her heartbreak-laden yet cheery LP All Of Me depicts a chick who’s grown balls, both through other’s mistakes (see: the Akon-penned anthem “Thank You”) and her own.

Tonight, we’re face to face in an Atlantic Records conference room in New York; it’s the stock record-label backdrop for promo-hungry artists. Chic and petite, Estelle’s sporting a designer hodgepodge—camel-colored cropped leather coat, Helmut Lang pants, black Top Shop tee and Chanel boots, accessorized with a Tory Burch belt, Hermes bracelet and vintage turquoise ring. She’s trying to pinpoint her top three white boy crushes. “Ryan Gosling, Ryan Gosling and Ryan Gosling,” she jokes. When her little sis suggests Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, a smiling Estelle silently rejects. They dissolve into laughter. Doting on her most introspective album to date, Vixen takes an icepick to the cocoa-skinned singer-MC’s brain about music, love, the best of times and the worst. Clover Hope

VIXEN: You’ve talked about how this album is your emotional release after a breakup with your boyfriend of three years. Why did you decide to sing about it and not keep it in?
Estelle:
It wasn’t really a choice. It was happening while I was recording the album, unbeknownst to me. I ended up writing about somebody I’d break up with at the very end of recording. I kind of got the balls to do it right at the end. An epiphany hit one day coming back from the “Break My Heart” video shoot. I was like, “I deserve better.” And that was it. And then I listened to the album and I’m going into it, like, this really feels like the story of my breaking up with this guy.

What was the biggest issue that made you question that relationship?
I didn’t feel good. I didn’t wake up in the morning smiling. In a relationship when that starts to happen, you might want to push them while you’re in it. They say through thick and thin, but when it’s always thick and it’s always bad and it’s always negative, it’s never really going to turn into something. You know it’s going to be wrong but you’re like, no I want to stick around. It’s a waste of your life.

A lot of people say they like certain artists better when they’re sad, like Mary or Keyshia.
Well, I fall into the category of having had “American Boy.” That’s the happiest song on the planet. So I don’t know; people love both. What I always wanted to do is give a balanced opinion and viewpoint of what a real life is like. It’s not always sad. It’s not always happy. It’s a bit of both. I just talk about how you get through both.

Were you surprised with the “Thank You” reception?
I was surprised because in my head it hasn’t been out that long. But when I did the tour this entire month, people have been singing it word for word, the entire room, men and women. That surprises the hell out of me. That makes me cry now, where before it would be the song would make me cry. That reaction makes me cry, like, 'Oh my God, so we’re all in this together? I’m not crazy?' It kind of affirms and reassures me of my choice.

People love to hear songs about heartbreak, especially when they’re going through the same thing.
When people sing “Thank You” to me, with the lyrics, it’s a different spin. It’s talking about what really happens every single day and not settling and not just being party to that stuff. And not in a facetious way. More in an “I’m cool. I’m actually cool” way. And the part that people sing out most is: “Sometimes I wonder/If she was more of a woman to you than you were a man to me.” That’s something that’s never been said in a song before, that real and that directly. People scream that bit at me and I’m like, So you understand! People are saying that like they never had the chance to say that before. They never had the option or the words to say those words to somebody before.

Did you speak to the guy after the song came out?
He loved the song. I sung it, so he heard it and then two weeks later I broke up with him. So he had heard it and liked it. He was like, “This is a beautiful song” and didn’t think it was going to be the song that helped me through therapy, through his situation. Life is funny. It will throw you a curve ball when you think everything is great. It really will.

VV: Do you think that heartbreak theme has helped your fellow U.K. star Adele?
E: I don’t think we are even on the same page as far as music. She does what she does. I do what I do. I’m just happy we’re both here releasing records in a climate that doesn’t let you release records after the first album. I’m just happy I get my third album, official fourth, but third album, second worldwide.

Do you believe in marriage?
Absolutely do.

Do you want to get married?
Hell yes! I would be a fantastic wife. [Laughs]

How so?
I’m all in.

Ride or die?
Yeah, I will have slept for three hours and still go and try to find some kind of food or check my dude. I’m real attentive, and I definitely have one of these [referring to her big heart]. And it’s to my detriment.

Have you been close before or thought you were close to getting married?
I thought I was. He actually proposed to me minus the ring, so it kind of was like, Are we really…

The “Thank You” guy?
Yeah. Minus the ring. When you’re ready to really holler, I guess yes… When you’re serious, let me know. And that was part of the thing. I tried to always look at us and he would only see him. And even when he tried to look at us, he could still only see him. So it was kind of like, we ain’t on the same path. We’re not on the same page.

What’s the hardest thing about being in a relationship and being famous?
You’re carrying some kind of weight whichever way it goes, you know? If they don’t understand your life, they look at you like you’re you. You should be happy. And when they get into your life and they see you, they’re like, Well, I did all of this for you that no one else sees. So you can’t win either way. You’re going to pay for it for who you are somehow. I won’t complain. I love my life, I love my job, I love what the hell I do, and I love who I am. This is my existence. This is what I do. But it’s a tough thing to have to deal with always having that hung over your head, that feeling of well, he might throw that at me that he cooked for me today, like that’s not standard. I didn’t cook for him the entire week because, well, I’m me and I should be lucky that somebody wants to do that for me.

The spoken interludes on the album remind me of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
That was intentional. I think people need to talk. They need to have the conversation that [Lauryn’s] album had. They need to have that pull together that the album had and remind people that skits are fun, too. And it reminded me that I wasn’t alone, again. If you’re in a relationship and I’m who I am, sometimes I had to ride that out alone. Not a lot of people supported it. A lot of people were like, “What are you doing with him?” And then some people were like, “Well, you don’t deserve him.” And it was like, what? We like each other so what’s wrong with that? To a point, I felt alone a lot. So it just reminded me that we’re all going through the same shit. It was just five of my friends in a room talking in my front room. As much as we’re busy and we’re friends, my life is drastically different from theirs. So it just reminded me that I’m not too far off emotionally from what everyone else in the world is dealing with.

Let’s talk beauty. What hairstyles did you rock when you were younger?
I had everything. I had a blonde Mohican. I had a bowl cut with blue stripes in it, purple stripes in it. I had the fingers ways, the pushed up waves. I had short-slicked Halle Berry. I had the short-slicked Nia Long. I’ve had every hairstyle—braids, you name it.

What’s your favorite look?
My favorite look is when I had a bob cut like Regina King in Friday. It was slick, smooth and it moved. It just went from side to side. I was proud of that [laughs].

Worst hair experience?
This lady gave me like a spaceship. My hair gets really thick if you don’t relax it properly so I think she reckoned she relaxed it but she cut my hair into a space ship, a flying saucer kind of haircut. Do you remember the earlier Cynthia in Sex and the City when she started in the ’80s? Well, it looked like that but it was dry and brown. Ooh child, I was so angry. I think I tied it down.

What’s your facial cleansing routine?
Mario Badescu cucumber facial soap—all his products. I get a clearing facial every month just to re-up and clear up skin. As much makeup as I wear, and as much as I have to be turned up every single day, I try to take it down once a month. Take it all off.

Celebrities have access to so many different regimens and procedures. What’s your favorite?
The crystal, clearing thing is pretty good. It’s at Bliss Spa, if you go to a W Hotel. It’s the best most affordable clearing mask, scrub, peel, whatever. They run $500 and up, but this one is like $200 and you’ll see the difference. Your skin will actually lift a shade because it’s just a bunch of dead skin, especially for Black skin. It’s the absolute best.

Do you do your own make-up?
Sometimes.

Do you have a favorite line?
Make Up Forever is pretty incredible for all skin tones. Oh my God, they have every shade. A lot of people say MAC, but I say Make Up Forever. I’m going against the grain. I like NARS as well, as far as lipsticks, eye shadows and body oils.

Are you a frugal person?
I am, when it comes to things I know I can get for cheap. I’m definitely the girl that’s like, “Oh, that’s in Wal-Mart. I’ll go in Wal-Mart and buy that.” I love my shoes; I love my products—I don’t skimp on that. Because I know I will use them everyday. Shoes I collect them. Their products you can give them to your kids.

How many shoes would you say you have?
Someone told me I need an intervention.

What’s your favorite type of shoe?
At the moment, sky-high stiletto wedges or platforms. I’m all about that. I’m short; I’m like 5’5, 5’6 or something. I look short, too. People always think I’m taller than I really am so I’m always in heels. Put me in the sky; let’s go.

Do you guys hit on you now more, or less because they’re intimidated?
Well, now more for some reason, because I’m single I think, putting out pheromones apparently. A lot of them are intimidated, a lot of them don’t quite know what my deal is and I’m not in the rush to tell them. I kind of want to see their whole M.O. It takes a special kind of guy to really talk to me because I’ve heard it all, seen it all, and I’m definitely not here for the bullshit and I can see a through a lot. Sometimes I want to be like, try me. I might be in a good mood. I might be tipsy today. It always ends up nowhere but it’s fun to watch the attempts.

Who are your top three girl crushes?
I always lean towards fashion, so I would say Kate Moss. What she wears is everything. Iman is another one. I want to be her when I grow up. And Rachel Roy. Iman and Rachel are really good friends of mine. I look up to them and I want to be them when I get grow up. They’re beautiful women; they’re amazing.

Favorite place to shop?
Dover Street Market in London.

Does London has better stores?
Hell yeah! Than anywhere else in the world.

Top Shop got imported here.
The one here is like ugh, I guess. The one in London is just everything. Westfield is good, too. It’s like a million stores in one. It’s like the biggest mall ever.

What you want people to get from this album?
That it’s the same ish, different currency. We’re all going through this stuff together, and I think they’re getting it. It’s real life, though. It’s not just a bunch of records. This was really the most painful, stretching, intimidating experience of my life and I made it through it. So I just want anyone that’s going through it to have a guidebook, to have a bit of help.

What advice would you give girls who are reading Vixen right now who might be insecure about their body?
Hug yourself in the mirror with just your underwear on because you’re beautiful. Everyone says that, but do it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. God made you this way. I say it in a song, “I’m nice in my skin/I love every color/I got the body God gave me, don’t want another.” That was the most profound thing I feel like I’ve said on a record ever. People hear that and they’re like [gasps] because they feel like, “She must have done this and that.” And I’m like, no I work out because I want to be healthy, but listen if I put on some weight I’m cool with that. I’ll find some bigger clothes; they sell them. As long as I’m healthy, I’m good. All that stuff is overrated. Just live, man. Live. You’re beautiful.

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Yvette Nicole Brown and Gabourey Sidibe were some of the actresses who were vocal about the treatment of actors of color when faced with beauticians in Hollywood.
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Celebrities Use #ActingWhileBlack Hashtag To Point Out Pitfalls Of Hollywood's Beauty Scene

While being a working person of color in Hollywood is something to admire, those fortunate enough to be working in these spaces often have difficulties finding the right person to do their hair and makeup with the right amount of diligent care.

Model Olivia Anakwe took to Instagram earlier this month to detail the issues she faced before a runway show, when she was disrespected by haircare professionals who refused to work on her textured hair.

"Black hairstylists are required to know how to do everyone’s hair, why does the same not apply to others?” she wrote. “It does not matter if you don’t specialize in afro hair, as a continuous learner in your field you should be open to what you have yet to accomplish; take a class."

The hashtag #ActingWhileBlack began to spread on social media over the weekend, and people of color chimed in to share their stories.

Actress Yvette Nicole Brown shared that she often carries her own hair extensions and clothes for shoots, and that having stylists who are untrained in black beauty often runs the risk of them looking bad later on. Oscar-nominee Gabourey Sidibe shared a similar sentiment.

Insecure’s Natasha Rothwell hit the nail on the head in her tweet about the issue with not hiring the right people to work with ethnic hair.

“If you cast a POC— And thank you for doing so!—you also have to hire someone who knows how to do ethnic hair,” she wrote on Mar. 11. “Not someone who's "comfortable with it" but someone who actually knows how to style ethnic hair types.”

Check out some tweets from celebs on this issue below.

 

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This message is to spread awareness & hopefully reach anyone in the hair field to expand their range of skills. Black models are still asking for just one hairstylist on every team no matter where your team is from to care for afro hair. I was asked to get out of an empty chair followed by having hairstylists blatantly turning their backs to me when I would walk up to them, to get my hair done. If I am asked to wear my natural hair to a show, the team should prepare the style just as they practice the look and demo for non-afro hair. I arrived backstage where they planned to do cornrows, but not one person on the team knew how to do them without admitting so. After one lady attempted and pulled my edges relentlessly, I stood up to find a model who could possibly do it. After asking two models and then the lead/only nail stylist, she was then taken away from her job to do my hair. This is not okay. This will never be okay. This needs to change. No matter how small your team is, make sure you have one person that is competent at doing afro texture hair care OR just hire a black hairstylist! Black hairstylists are required to know how to do everyone’s hair, why does the same not apply to others? It does not matter if you don’t specialize in afro hair, as a continuous learner in your field you should be open to what you have yet to accomplish; take a class. I was ignored, I was forgotten, and I felt that. Unfortunately I’m not alone, black models with afro texture hair continuously face these similar unfair and disheartening circumstances. It’s 2019, it’s time to do better. || #NaturalHair #ModelsofColor #BlackHairCare #HairCare #Message #Hair #Hairstyling #Backstage #BTS #AfroTexturedHair #Afro #POC #Braids #Message #Spreadtheword #Speak #Awareness #Growth #WorkingTogether #BlackGirlMagic #Melanin

A post shared by Olivia Anakwe (@olivia_anakwe) on Mar 7, 2019 at 9:07am PST

#ActingWhileBlack Makeup & Hair in one bag. The other bags are filled with clothes because some wardrobe stylists don’t know that cute clothes exist in sizes larger than size 10. “Here try on this mumu, I know it’s a little big, we’ll just belt it!” #ActingWhileBlackAndChubby https://t.co/gl3b64Omtj

— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) March 11, 2019

Most black actresses come to a new set w/ their hair done (me) or bring their wigs & clip-ins w/them. It’s either that or take a chance that you will look crazy on screen. Many of us also bring our own foundation. One too many times seeing no shade that matches you will learn ya! https://t.co/mGAzpuoKtb

— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) March 11, 2019

Most black actresses come to a new set w/ their hair done (me) or bring their wigs & clip-ins w/them. It’s either that or take a chance that you will look crazy on screen. Many of us also bring our own foundation. One too many times seeing no shade that matches you will learn ya! https://t.co/mGAzpuoKtb

— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) March 11, 2019

If they don’t have the budget to hire a black hairstylist for me, or won’t, I just get the director to agree that my character should have box braids or senegalese twist.

— Gabby Sidibe (@GabbySidibe) March 11, 2019

PSA: If you cast a POC— And thank you for doing so!—you also have to hire someone who knows how to do ethnic hair. Not someone who's "comfortable with it" but someone who actually knows how to style ethnic hair types.

Congratulations on advancing to the next level of inclusion! https://t.co/A1Q9ZpvXmH

— Natasha Rothwell (@natasharothwell) March 11, 2019

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Kim Kardashian is seen on February 7, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)

Kim Kardashian Credited For Making Crimped Hair Cool Like Beyonce, Janet Jackson And Naomi Campbell Don't Exist

Spring is nothing without doses of cultural appropriation from those out of touch with black culture.

Insert Vogue, who decided to give props to Kim Kardashian for bringing back crimped hair on Friday (March 15). The businesswoman has been on the move lately, rocking a mix of kanekalon and yaki ponytails during fashion month, Chance The Rapper's wedding and other Kardashian-related events.

“What makes this look so modern is that the front is sleek,” explained her stylist Justine Marjan. “This gives a cool contrast to the texture.”

The texture? 

With many trends from the aughts coming back to the mainstream, this is one that hasn't really gone anywhere. But black beauty markers (layered gold chains, perfect baby hairs, name chains) paired with media ignorance and the Kardashian's own fascination with black culture has made it okay for her to receive all the props.

But we can't forget those who have slayed kanekalon, yaki and crimped styles like...

Janet Jackson

The singer's look for her comeback has been a uniform-like one, with Ms. Jackson rocking all black and her now signature ponytail.

Beyoncé

This. was. last. year. How could anyone forget this? The entertainer rocked various styles of kanekalon hair for Beychella.

There was also this amazing look at Serena Williams' wedding.

 

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A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Nov 19, 2017 at 9:01am PST

Ruth E. Carter

The Oscar-winning designer made the look all her own while on the red carpet for Black Panther. 

Nicki Minaj

Fans of the rapper are aware her early looks included fun crimped and wavy styles. When she made to move to ditch her color wigs in 2014, she's kept the crimped styles close to her heart.

And we cannot forget about our queen, Naomi Campbell

She's owned the look her whole career, from the runway to the red carpet, Ms. Campbell has always been on the forefront of casual beautiful looks.

Social media also got wind of Vogue's post, including actor O'Shea Jackson who like many of us, is just over it.

Maaaaaaan come on now. Come ooooon now. Bringing it back? Vogue stop this https://t.co/FEGSw3GM9V

— Stone Cold Shea Jackson (@OsheaJacksonJr) March 15, 2019

https://twitter.com/SassySouthpaw20/status/1106642402448732160

https://twitter.com/riridotxo/status/1106924628851728384

Perhaps there's a bit of truth of the theories of fashion outlets trolling readers but this just deserves a permanent eye roll.

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'Boomerang' Episode 6 Recap: Homecoming

On this episode of BET’s Boomerang, the love story between Bryson and Simone begins with a flashback to their freshman year of college. After several years of not seeing one another since their childhood, Bryson is shocked to see a slick-back pony-tail wearing Simone insert herself into his class during a presentation. Nothing has changed with her. Even pre-bob and with Bryson rocking a sharp Steve Harvey-like hairline, even from their younger days, they have always been the dynamic duo of marketing strategy. The product featured this week: Pro-Black T-Shirts.

The devastation of not having his secret love in his life spills over into their sophomore year when a beanie-wearing David and Crystal are happy in their fake hood love. By this time, a rapper named Prisoner has all of Simone’s attention and this makes Bryson big mad. The man can’t even hide it. In an apparent fit of jealousy, he calls Simone out for living under her father’s shadow, in front of everyone. It’s safe to say that sophomore Bry struck out badly.

This isn’t just about Simone and Bryson; they’re not the only ones who’ve made transformations over the years (and I’m not just talking about their hair ‘dos). In his earlier life, Ari was less eccentric and more focused on making his family proud as a young black man in college who isn’t running on BPT for class. Ari was as straight as 180 when he’s first put into a situation where he’s forced to confront his sexual identity. As big and bad as he looked while working as a “rough & tough” bouncer at a nightclub, a flirtatious patron sees right through that persona.  After being charmed by the man who helps him realize self, the rainy night sets the tone for a steamy kiss between the two in the front seat of Ari’s car. The look on Ari’s face is a blend of fear, then relief, then ultimately bliss as he seemingly reminisces on his random but welcomed encounter. Although he enjoyed it, Ari didn’t seem to embrace his identity totally. That same year, we see a less hood-David changing more into the Christian we now know and Ari isn’t buying it. Something about this “we can do all things in Christ mentality” rubs him the wrong way. Facing one’s true self is tough.

Junior year, Bryson has a much better barber but things haven’t changed; he’s still checking for Simone. She and Prisoner are still dating if you want to call it that. Prisoner is the type of dude you’d expect to see Simone date in college. He’s flashy, has money, probably doesn’t even go to the school, and he’s rude AF. As Simone and Bryson reconnect for the two millionth time, Prisoner’s pimp tone telling Simone to hurry up is a strong indication he’s not here for their friendship. In analyzing the hair, it’s clear that Simone is not herself. Seriously, at this point, she’s rocking a glueless lace wig.

With her new hairstyle, she realizes that she made the mistake of loving a man more than herself. Prisoner is officially a dub. To celebrate her revelation, she finds herself drunkenly wining and grinding on her childhood bae, Bryson. Does this look familiar? Well, think back to last week when they were doing the same in the parking lot before 5-0 arrived. Because she couldn’t hold it, Simone ends up using Bryson’s bathroom which leads to a very sober thoughts-type of conversation in the bedroom. It is recognized that Bryson has always had a thing for the kid and Simone regrets that she never said anything about her feelings. His commandeering attitude (like the day she walked into his class freshman year) reminded her of the Different World “Strangers on a Plane” episode. It was an iconic one because it’s where Dwayne and Whitley’s love story began. That’s a telling comparison.

With that being said, Simone always felt Bryson was the Dwane to her Whitley. Unfortunately, the timing was always off and just when we think the two finally catch up to one another, cue: the vomit. Poor Bryson. Did someone do brujeria on this kid? He has the worst luck. But, like the gentleman he is, he takes care of his queen to make sure she’s all comfy in her drunken slumber. He whispers, “I love you Simone Graham,” but on the wake up it looks like sis suffers from sudden amnesia. She pulls the “best friend” card, making it clear that it’s friend zone from here on out. Prisoner’s trifling friend calls to offer to take Simone out to eat and in an act of “let me solidify that Bryson knows this is going nowhere,” Simone agrees to go out with her ex's friend. Once again, a blue-balled Bryson is left sorting out his feelings that Simone continues to perpetually confuse.

It’s important to note that the story of Brymone is not a new one. We’ve seen it in many action movies, comic book flicks, and on “Strangers on a Plane” where the geeky male character is overlooked by the badass female, only to win her affection in the end. Nice guys don’t always finish last, but in Bryson’s case, could it possibly be heading in that direction and is Simone even the heroine worth winning? In browsing through what is essentially the best years of any young adult’s life, Simone had many times to figure out if Bryson was the one for her and yet she chose to ignore her feelings. Unlike David, it’s not like she found Jesus; she hasn’t yet found herself.

One thing she does know is that she cannot lose Bryson because it’s possible she may love and need him more than she’d like to verbally admit. He’s no Prisoner or no flashy member of the entourage. He’s the “gentleman who wears tuxedos and makes sure his homegirl is safe” type of dude and unfortunately, that isn’t one Simone is interested in, for now.

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