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Normani Opened Up About How Anti-Blackness Shaped Her Childhood Insecurities

"Knowing that I looked different sometimes, I think, definitely altered the way that I felt."

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Normani is figuring out who she is. In a new piece for Allure, the singer opened about her time in Fifth Harmony, how her beauty perceptions were shaped as a child, and using this time of social distancing to truly know herself better.

Looking back on her time as a former beauty pageant contestant, Normani acknowledged that she feels there's a continued misconception of what beauty is. She said that beauty should represent all women, and that even in times of a pandemic, one has the ability to feel beautiful. "Everyone has a beauty queen within them. And it takes time to tap into that awareness," she said.

Although she's garnered that awareness, and has found ways to check in with herself, including journaling and giving herself facials, there was a time in which she didn't feel as confident. "I was one of three little Black kids in the whole school and I remember asking my mom to straighten my hair, wishing my eyes were a little bit lighter, because that was the standard. Every Black girl should be able to look at the television screen and see herself as beautiful," she wrote.

Part of her perception was shaped by her time in Fifth Harmony. "It was obvious — I was the only significantly darker, African-American [member]. Knowing that I looked different sometimes, I think, definitely altered the way that I felt," she said. However, she credited her mother and grandmother with providing constant support, and said that it's only recent that she's truly tapped into who she is. "I think I'm just discovering who I am, to be quite honest. And it's not me in contest with anybody else; it's me in competition with myself," she said.

Along with taking time for new activities and embracing her natural beauty, Normani has taken this time of staying at home to rethink her current beauty regimen. "Wearing makeup all day — and heavy makeup at that — takes a toll on my skin," she said. "At the beginning of this year, it was the worst it had ever been, to the point where I was supposed to go to certain events, take certain meetings, and I couldn't work myself up. It'd be me having conversations [in the mirror], trying to convince myself I could do it, but I didn't feel comfortable at all."

Taking time away from her usual beauty routine, Normani has turned to double cleansing, exfoliation, and a bit of dance during her social distancing."I'm curious about a lot. OK, so what's the history behind that? What does this mean when you hit this [move]? I'm very detail-oriented. But I love to be educated. To know everything," she said.

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