Mary J. Blige is the epitome of strength. As fans we’ve encountered failed relationships, the search for real love, pure joy and a danced a mean two-step to her music. From songs like I’m Goin’ Down, Real Love, No More Drama and Good Morning Goddess. And most recently Mary turned her strength into a whole festival. The ‘Strength of a Woman Festival’ has become a uplifting weekend for Black women to gather and bond spiritually over two-days of events.
Mary J. Blige Defines Strength
I was granted the opportunity to sit in a room with incredible individuals that I’ve admired for years from afar as they exemplified what it meant to be a strong Black woman in today’s age. While at the Strength Of A Woman Festival, the summit founder what she defines as real strength today. “Strength for me looks like 100% self-love, self-awareness, loving yourself,” Blige explained to me as she continued to explain the different pillars of strength in her eyes.
“Self-awareness for one because if you could see yourself, you can have the strength to see the good, the bad, the ugly, all of it or see your flaws and see where you need to help yourself. Self-awareness is important because if you can get yourself fixed and love yourself, then you can love everybody else. Confidence is a blessing to everybody around you. Self-love, self-awareness so confidence is a blessing to everyone because if you are happy with yourself, you won’t be cranky with everyone else. I’m happy with myself.”
As she referred to her song Good Morning Gorgeous from her 2022 track-titled studio album, Blige loves herself without makeup, wigs, or fancy boots – and that’s what’s most important to her at this stage in her life. For Blige, the ‘Strength of a Woman Festival‘ is a reflection of self-love and where she is mentally at this point in her life.
The Family Affair artist added, “I don’t feel like dealing with certain things, so my face might be twisted up, but it ain’t got to do with you. I care a lot about myself and people feel it and that’s why all of this is happening because I’m finally in a place where Mary actually can say she loves herself for real.”
Even in times of strength, Blige notes that it’s important to lean on your tribe and turn to your close circle for support. “I’m definitely one of the strong friends in the group, and I think it’s important to check on the strong friend in the group because they will never say they need help and they’re the ones that need help the most.”
As the self-proclaimed strong friend in the group, she knows that asking for help from another friend is not a sign of weakness. In fact, she encourages it highly in an effort to help everyone in the group to better communicate and understand one another. “I’m not the one that’s suppressing and I’m dying, but I’m helping you, no, no. I’m helping and I need help.”
While there’s so much going on between the summit, the festival, and Mary J.’s show-stopping performances with special guests, it was important for me to ask Blige when was the last time someone checked in on her. Thankfully, she has an active support system that consistently checks on her as she moves through life, love, and her career.
“People check on me a lot. My family, my sisters, my friends. I have a real nice community that loves me and I think I have [a] community because I love me,” Blige confided. “People check on you when you check on you. People love you when you love you. You don’t have to give me anything, just love me, just go to dinner with me, just have a conversation with me. I’m easy. I don’t need a lot.”
At this year’s second annual ‘Strength of a Woman Festival,’ HelloBeautiful caught up with a few of our favorite celebrities about where they draw their strength from, who they lean on in times of weakness, and how important Blige’s festival is for women’s empowerment.
Gail Bean Defines Strength
Snowfall’s Gail Bean’s definition of strength and how she wants others to support her: “For other people to pour into me and support me, pray for me, watch the things I’m on, share it. There’s a rumor about the Snowfall spinoff coming out, and I see everything. I see everything that people say. I would like for people to give me a chance sometimes. A lot of times we shut things down, especially when it comes to females, without even seeing if they can do it or supporting them so they can do it, speaking life into them.”
“For people to support me, I would like for them to speak life into me. I would like for them to support the things that I’m on, put my names in rooms, [and] pray for me. I would like for them to support themselves because if we first are better than when our introductions and our energies meet, we’ll put good out into the world. If you already on a good note and you see something about me cross your timeline, you not going to say a negative comment because you ain’t even in that energy to be speaking down on people. If they take care of themselves, they can in turn take care of me.”
Where she pulls her strength from: “On days I feel low and I don’t feel like myself, I pull my strength from God and the ancestors, but also from other people in my life. My family is really big on reminding me that sometimes the things that I’m going through, yes, they’re valid, but not to make it bigger than it is. At times when you’re in the midst of something, a problem, or an emotion, you can make it so major. You can make it larger than life, bigger than you, and then they start to metastasize. I have my family to thank for just reminding me, ‘All right, breathe. Yes, your feelings are valid, but how big is this situation? Have you looked at all the angles of it?’”
Why it’s important to check on your strong friends: “Because a lot of times the strong people are the last to be thought about because you think they’re okay. You know they good, so we’re giving the energy and resources to people who are typically never doing okay. A lot of times, people who are strong, who are 9 times out of the 10 okay, it’s that 10%. It’s that one time where they actually needed somebody. I had a moment where it was just like I was overwhelmed. It was a lot. I’m not a person that asks for help because I don’t ever want to inconvenience anybody else, but it was a moment where it felt like I really needed people and everybody was dropping the ball.”
When burnout sets in: “I didn’t have no rest; I think a lot of times what we don’t say is that even God rested. Rest is very important to have strength. I just didn’t have anything to pull from to do anything. [I felt] depleted. I hadn’t prayed for replenishment and restoration, so I had prayed for replenishment. I prayed for restoration. Every day, of course I prayed for discernment and protection, but I had started to lack on asking for replenishment and restoration. You know when you run so much, you forget to eat? I think I was just going and I forgot to pray for replenishment and restoration, and I needed that.”
Jayda Wayda Defines Strength
How being a mother gives Jayda Cheaves her strength: “My baby is my everything. He is the only reason I keep going. Before, it was because I was taking care of my family, I was doing this, but when he came, it’s like, that’s all I think about. He’s my world. So he give me all the strength.”
Who she leans on in times of weakness: “God. I lean on God for my strength. And it’s no such thing as having a bad day with Loyal there. He’s always going to make me laugh, tell me how pretty I am, give me hugs, and comfort me. So God put him in my life for a reason, so God and my son.”
Mielle Organics’ founder Monique Rodriguez on how the strength of Black women drives the style and beauty industry: “The strength of Black women have helped the beauty and style industry because we are the beauty and style industry. We lead, we set trends. There would be no category if it wasn’t for us. We are the biggest spenders, we are the trendsetters, we are the change makers, taste makers. However you want to put it, this is us. And so to see that there’s so much strength in just Black women coming together and just celebrating and having that camaraderie and community, it really speaks to the influence that Mary J has.”
Where she pulls her strength from: “My inner strength comes from my God. My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I don’t think that there is no other way to say where I pull strength from because, as His word tells us, He delights in areas that we are weak because that allows for us to lean on Him for our strength. That’s where I tap into the days that I feel down. The days that I feel like I don’t want to do this, less motivated, I know that God has a bigger purpose and the purpose is bigger than me. I lean on Him for everything, all things.”
How being a mother gives her strength: “First of all, motherhood gives us a new type of strength because, when you have that baby, you see you have a strength that’s probably beyond what you ever thought or imagined. I know that’s how I felt when I gave birth. After you go through that pain and you see this beautiful human being that you’re holding, that’s what you live for. That’s my purpose, to be a mother, to raise my girls to also be strong women. My girls are everything. I love being a mom. Outside of God, my husband, and then motherhood, that’s the order. It’s everything to me.”
Where Iyanla Vanzant pulls her strength from: “I think that I know I don’t always have to have it all together, so therefore my strength very rarely gets depleted in the first place. Authenticity is my strength, and to be present with who I am, as I am, wherever I am, when I’m there, that’s a sign of strength for me.”
Why it’s important for people to check-in: “That’s why I have a village, I have a village of women that support me, that take care of me, that remind me to eat, to drink water.”What are you doing today? What do you have today? I think every woman has to create a posse, those that actually move with her, and then a village, those that overlook her. The village’s responsibility is to take care of each other.”
Her definition of strength: “For me, strength is the alignment and the integrity of my inner life. I can only be as strong on the outside as I am on the inside. For me, strength isn’t about my doing, it’s about my being, so if I be okay inside, I can show up okay outside. I think if I had one message to give to women, I would ask us to consider no longer saying, How are you? You are divine, you are noble. The question is how you be? How you be today? Do you be peaceful? Do you be upset? Do you be nervous? Do you be anxious? That is going to get us more into an authentic expression of where we are in the moment.”
Mary J. Blige: I’m One Of The Strong Friends Out The Group, Check On Your Strong Friend was originally published on hellobeautiful.com
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