Janelle Monae’s Redefining Sexy

Bobbi Brown
Editor in Chief
July 11, 2014

Photo: Getty Images

Janelle Monáe is a woman who knows who she is. The 29-year old singer has a signature style that’s all her own. She’s brought the pompadour back, has a penchant for tuxedos, and loves to rock a red lip. Janelle is cool and confident which comes across on stage and off. I was lucky enough to chat with the very inspiring Grammy-nominated performer. Janelle believes in embracing the unique, avoiding conventional stereotypes, and that short women rule the world. I couldn’t agree more. 

 BB: I read a lot about you and found out that you and I are about the same height.

JM: Are you five feet?

BB: I am! I know a lot of girls our size and I think it makes us tougher.

JM: I love being short. I enjoy it. I think a lot of it has to do with when I saw that some of my favorite artists were short. I thought, wow, there is something really cool about being short. Like when I met Prince. I saw his height and I thought it was so cool. When he is on stage you can’t really tell. For me, I embrace it and I find strength in it. I think short people rule the world!

BB: I agree with you. I met Scarlett Johansson and she is the same size as we are. There are a lot of very cool petite women.

JM: It’s a community! It’s definitely a club.

BB: What advice do you give to young girls about confidence, beauty and life?

JM: I think one of the things I try to do through my music is create these revolutionary dance songs to encourage younger people. Try to figure out what route you take from the individual’s standpoint, whether you are a collective group, or how to fit in. We are all so bombarded by media and images that are saying what we need to look like in order to be beautiful and to be accepted. I wish they accepted the things that make others uncomfortable

BB: Especially the things you can’t change. My advice is to feel good about them because you can’t change them.

JM: Absolutely. Nobody else can live in the skin that you are in. You have to get comfortable because nobody else is going to do it for you. Whether you’re depressed or you’re unhappy, it is going to be up to you to control that because you have to live with it for the rest of your life.

BB: How did you learn this? Did you learn this from someone in your family or by yourself?

JM: Just through experience, through trial and error. Through understanding that you just have a choice. We need to treat ourselves kindly and we might as well embrace the things that make us unique. Take the negatives out, but if you don’t, then you can’t take the long peaceful path stretch.

BB: You have such a unique sense of style. Was it just one moment where you just said ok this is who I am?

JM: I think it’s all about having control of your image, as women especially. I think there is this unspoken thing: these are the clothes you have wear, this is the way you have to look. We need get rid of that notion. This world is very diverse and as women we need to be too. There are many different ways to be sexy. There are many different ways to be cool. I am a free spirit. I like the challenge of redefining what it means to be a woman, especially a woman of color creating music and telling a universal story in an unforgettable way.

BB: How do you stay healthy and fit so that you can have the energy to perform?

JM: I do a lot of meditation. I am a spiritual person, but I am happy—genuinely happy—when I wake up. When I go to bed at night and when I wake up, I choose peace. I choose to get up everyday and start my day with positive thoughts. It helps everything. I do 90-minute shows that are very high energy night after night. I definitely count that as exercise. I do work out, too. You know I try to eat healthy, but after a show I sometimes want a cheeseburger and shake!

BB: I bet it’s like finishing a marathon because you’ve been depleted so much. What is your favorite thing to eat after a show?

JM: It depends where I am. If I am going to New Orleans I may want seafood or a Po’ boy sandwich. If I’m in Memphis or someplace that does BBQ, I do that. Those are my little reward cards that I give myself.

BB: You have such a cool signature hairstyle, do you do that everyday or just when you are on stage?

JM: It’s definitely not something that I do everyday just because you want to keep your hair healthy and that kind of styling is not healthy for your hair. So on my down time, I let it get longer. I do sculptures with my hair especially when I am bored. I do different shapes. If you come into my studio or into my house, you’re bound to get some type of creative sculpture on top of my head.

BB: You’re a makeup artist’s dream, because you can carry off so many looks so easily. I am obsessed with your eyes, because you have this amazing eyelid that you could put light color on or dark color on. When you do your own makeup what do you usually put on your eyes?

JM: I love my lashes. They’re bold, so to accentuate them as much as possible I use COVERGIRL mascara. It gives them that long look that I love. I also like putting bronzer into the crease in my eye, very lightly, but really it’s all about my lashes.

BB: Do your eyes need liner or do you only need mascara to make them pop?

JM: I do put a little liner on top, just a thin layer. Sometimes I’ll do just a small wing like when I am performing. It gives that extra oomph.

BB: You are spokesperson for COVERGIRL what are your favorite products?

JM: I have three that I really love. I love the Lip Perfection Hot 305. It is this really gorgeous red lipcolor. I love the Queen Collection, the bronzer is perfect for when I want a touch up. They also have these glosses called Colorlicious that I love for their bright colors. When I am kissing someone on the cheek or on the lips, it’s so smooth. So I love those three products. But probably my favorite is the Hot 305, the red accent completes the whole look for me.

BB: Well I have really enjoyed speaking with you. You are really cool and sweet, and empowering. Good luck with your incredible career. I think will go so many places that you probably won’t even expect.