Ciara says husband Russell Wilson encourages her to accept her body: ‘He loves my curves’
It Figures is Yahoo Life's body image series, delving into the journeys of influential and inspiring figures as they explore what body confidence, body neutrality and self-love mean to them.
Ciara is in her body acceptance era thanks to her children and her husband, Russell Wilson.
“I give myself grace and my honey, Russ, he loves my curves. So he celebrates that, which I love,” she says. “So I don't stress as much now I think as I would have when I was younger.”
The 37-year-old tells Yahoo Life that she remains “conscious” of her body after having three children — 8-year-old son Future Zahir, whom she shares with rapper Future; 5-year-old daughter Sienna and 2-year-old son Win with Wilson. However, she maintains perspective by reminding herself of the body image struggles she faced growing up, which her kids too will go through.
“I really am very observant and I try to at times go back to when I was in their shoes. I try to remember each phase,” she says. “I know there's going to be a time when life is going to get real. And it is going to be about those things that kids deal with in middle school, especially in high school.”
Although Ciara was just 18 when her debut album Goodies was released in 2004, she can relate to the insecurities of any teenager from her years in school prior to fame.
“We all dealt with that,” she says. “The conversations that kids have can be overwhelming and the fear of being judged or the fear of feeling like you don't fit in was a very real thing for me.”
It became even more real when she entered the industry, facing the opinions of not only her peers but of authority figures who would take her from being an “aspiring” artist to the “real deal.”
“Before I was known to the world, there was a training stage where I realized, 'OK, I've got to level up how I'm taking care of myself,'” she reflects, referring to the process of artist development during which a record label works to grow the skills and public profile of an artist. “Try to get a bit more toned. Just prepare for the stage, get a bit more fit.”
It created a shift in how Ciara viewed movement in relation to her body as she began focusing not only on her capabilities but also on the way that she looked. “Movement for me is a big part of how I communicate, how I release and definitely a big way of how I express myself. I identified with dancing and movement at a very, very young age,” she says. “But I’ve become more connected to working out as I've gotten older — having my career as an entertainer, wanting to be prepared for music videos or being prepared for the stage. All of those made me start to take working out more seriously.”
Ciara has since sung and spoken about the concept of leveling up. Most recently, she teamed up with Unlimited by Degree, with breakthrough patented antiperspirant Smart Adapt® technology creating a flexible microbarrier that responds to sweat from movement, heat and stress, to discuss how she feels limitless even in her approach to physical endeavors. “You have to set your own standards and what your level of expectations are,” she says. “I’ve always had a certain kind of idea of what I aspire to do and where I want to get to and the goals that I want to achieve with my body.”
Marrying a professional athlete only inspired her more.
“We talked about in our earlier days being equally yoked,” she says of her and Wilson. “He and I were a lot alike from day one. So oftentimes, when we're doing things or aspiring to achieve the next goal or trying to level up our game — for him with football, and for me with music — we kind of run parallel.”
They also engage in “good friendly competition,” she says. “When we're working out, we're really encouraging each other, really celebrating each other, which I really love. I think he's the best at what he does and to see like his level of commitment and dedication to what he does, I get so inspired. I do feel like a better woman because of him.”
She also feels like a more confident mother as she manages newer body image struggles with his support.
“Three babies have come out of this belly, so god knows the struggle is real sometimes trying to keep the core intact. It’s an everyday process and journey with still trying to be my best self physically,” she explains.
The singer has also been open about her experience with diastasis recti after having her daughter. The condition refers to a separation between the two large muscles of the abdominal and is common after pregnancy.
"That is like a whole different beast of something to deal with, on top of trying to lose baby weight and get to a spot where I feel really good about myself," she says. "But because of this, I look at my belly and I go, my three precious babies came out of this belly. It’s my proudest achievement in life to have been able to do that. So I just have perspective on it."
She also knows that her own relationship with her body will serve as an example for them.
“I just want to continually encourage my baby girl, especially, but all my babies to feel confident in their skin and who they are. To know that god blessed them with their amazing and unique attributes that they have and that make us who we are and it's so amazing to embrace who you are. So I'm definitely mindful of that,” she says. “I want to be as observant as I can and also be a safe place for my babies. Sometimes conversations with mom and dad are a bit challenging and a bit uncomfortable. But I hope that I can feel like one of the most comfortable spots for them when they are going through those phases.”
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