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Go behind the scenes as Chloë Bailey, In The Know's January cover star, gets personal with Elaine Welteroth about celebrating her body and her sexuality
ELAINE WELTEROTH: Chloe. I'm so happy to see you and I'm so happy that we're doing this.
CHLOE BAILEY: Me too. I'm so happy we're doing this. You have been writing for my sister and I from day one when we were like just starting and I just personally love you so much.
ELAINE WELTEROTH: One of the things that I love so much about you is you live at this beautiful intersection between bad bitch energy and to even go as far as to identify as insecure. And I think that's what makes you so relatable and aspirational for your fans.
CHLOE BAILEY: I'm learning that we have to appreciate who we are completely. And, yes, you can point out the things that you don't like and you feel bad about. But for every one of those, point out five things you do like about yourself.
ELAINE WELTEROTH: In conversations about your image, if you had a different body type, people might not be reacting the way that they are. Do you feel like you are under a different level of scrutiny because of your curvy build as a young Black woman?
CHLOE BAILEY: It's not just me. It's any Black, beautiful woman. Any woman, period. It's something all of us go through in our life in any field that we're in. It's just more multiplied because of the platform that I'm given in social media. Someone will always have a problem because we choose to celebrate our body and the skin that we're in. I think about my grandmothers who grew up in a time where it wasn't OK to love the skin you're in and enjoy your body, but it's OK for a man to look at you any way they want and talk about any way they want.
And if you said the same things that they're saying about you about yourself, it's a problem. So that's what gets me frustrated and passionate. I have to remind myself that it's bigger than me and that's where my passion is coming from.
ELAINE WELTEROTH: I'm so grateful that you're able to articulate that in the way that you just did, because it is systemic. When we zoom out, there's so much more here to unpack than what meets the eye. Take us back to young Chloe. What was your body image like growing up and did you feel like you had anybody to look up to who had your body type? Or did you sort of feel uncomfortable in your skin?
CHLOE BAILEY: Ever since I was a little girl, I always felt like chubby and fat. And I look back at pictures and I wasn't even that big. And it kind of makes me a bit sad because I'm like, what was I looking at? What was I feeding myself that made me think there was something wrong with my body? In that time in media, it was like it was an insult to say you had a big ass. If I can honestly and genuinely say, it was Beyonce who made me look at my body and say, she looks damn good.
I would go and see her and be like, oh, well, maybe it is OK to have my body. Maybe it is OK to have a plump butt. Maybe it is OK to have to shake and jump to fit my jeans. I can completely and wholeheartedly give credit to Beyonce and Destiny's Child for the reason why I even felt confident having the body that I did at that age.
ELAINE WELTEROTH: I think that true art and true artists play a really important role in society, which is that they hold up mirrors to all of us and they make us reflect on what we think and why. I would venture to say you're challenging an entire generation or culture's norms around what it means for a woman to be overtly sexual. What is it like to embody that mirror in what I would characterize as a sexually-repressed society?
CHLOE BAILEY: There are so many incredible women that I have looked up to that have done that long before me. Donna Summer, Khalif, Beyonce, Nina Simone. If you pinpoint it, there has never been a point in time that society has ever been comfortable with a woman being powerful in the skin that she's in. The music that I'm currently making right now, and even with "Have Mercy," that was almost a response to everyone who was saying every negative thing they had to say about me when I first launched my solo Instagram page. So I'm just happy that people are paying attention now and I'm happy that they're at least talking because I'm doing something right.
And I'm happy that through it great music and great art is being created. Because if no one said anything negative about me, I would have never made "Have Mercy." I would have never made half the records that are going to be on my album.
ELAINE WELTEROTH: [LAUGHS]
And then bet on that. I love you so much. This was such an honor to do this with you. Thank you for making the time. I know you are an in demand, booked and busy young woman, but I really just love getting to reconnect with you after all this time. You're just such a beautiful, beautiful bright light.
CHLOE BAILEY: I love you and I'm just so excited for you. Many, many blessings and we'll connect soon, for sure.
ELAINE WELTEROTH: We will. We will. Thank you so much.
CHLOE BAILEY: Bye. I love you.