It’s a new year, y’all. That said, 13 days in, the only new developments, unfortunately, seem to be an escalation in all of the worst aspects of 2020—including an even more contagious variation of the still-rampant coronavirus.
This might be why we find Self magazine’s first cover of the year oddly...triggering. It’s not its cover star, Ciara, who is one of our favorite life coaches (who doesn’t need to “Level Up”?), tastemakers (who doesn’t like some Goodies?), and adorable kid-makers. That said, the avant-garde fash-un she’s sporting for her appearance on Self’s January cover feels oddly evocative of not the future (pun intended) but a moment in time that will forever be marked by the proliferation of a spiky viral microbe.
On the cover, the musician, fashion muse, philanthropist, and mom-preneur is gorgeous and glowing, hair cleanly parted into fresh twists as she gazes confidently at the camera wearing designer Walter Van Beirendonck’s “W.A.R.” jacket, an otherwise classic wool check blazer with...prosthetic-like spikes across its padded shoulders. In any other time in modern history, perhaps our instant association might be with the armored dinosaurs of the Mesozoic era. But having spent the past year bombarded with near-constant microscopic images of the coronavirus, the first thing that came to mind upon seeing Ciara’s cover was this:
“OMG, nooooooo,” The Root’s Staff Entertainment Writer Tonja Stidhum exclaimed in response, adding: “In THIS year of our lord ‘rona? on THIS land??? Because yeah, can’t help but think VIRUS.”
Shanelle Genai, our freelance entertainment contributor, had a more humorous take, namely that “the ‘fit is giving very much ‘horned Coronavirus toad.’”
This is perhaps not helped by the subtitle—“on Pregnancy and Parenting in a Pandemic”—printed beneath the star’s name. On their own, pregnancy and parenting are life-altering events; coupled with the somewhat sinister sartorial choice, the subtitle serves as a cogent reminder that even the most monumental and joyful experiences of our lives have been overshadowed by the threat and tragedy wrought by the ongoing pandemic. Even for those of us who’ve somehow (read: by sheer luck) managed to remain personally unscathed by the devastation this past year has wrought (meaning must you must live on a literal deserted island), it has been the most challenging of our lifetimes. Nevertheless, in Self’s cover story, the mom of three seems to be taking it all in stride (no doubt with some hired help, though she’s well known as a hands-on parent).
“I don’t even know if you can call it organized chaos, but it is to some degree. Sometimes not even the most organized, to be honest,” she tells the magazine. “But I’m enjoying it all. I found my way to embrace it all. I just decided, Hey, this is a unique time. It is a challenging time. And the world is changing. But rather than letting the world change me, I’m going to figure out how to change with it. That’s been my mentality. How do I adjust? How do I really work and find the silver lining in the midst of it all?”
That’s not to say she’s in any denial about the grim realities of the moment, including the risk of contagion and the more everyday concerns of becoming “a self-described teacher’s assistant” to manage remote learning for children Future and Sienna, ages 6 and 3, respectively.
“With Russ and football, they have to take COVID tests every day—there’s so many people on a football team. Our babies have intermittent asthma, so we have to be super cautious,” she discloses. “We don’t know how this virus performs. There’s so many reasons why we have to take super-high measures to make sure we’re being as safe as we can be considering everything.”
“In the beginning, for us, it was really trying to wrap our heads around it,” she later added—and of course, that included the surreality of attending prenatal visits alone during the pandemic (husband Russell Wilson often FaceTimed from the parking lot after dropping her off), and laboring under strict COVID protocols. “‘Wow. This is crazy. I’m having to deliver a baby with a mask,” she recalls thinking. “What in the world?’”
As a couple, co-parents and partners in multiple enterprises, the Wilsons have plenty to work on together, but Ciara tells Self: “[W]e can be in the same house and still miss each other,” she says. “We’re still grinding. We’re still working. He’s sometimes working in another room in another section of the house, and I’m just working in another section too. And sometimes we go hours doing that. So then, by the time the end of the day comes, ‘Oh, my gosh. I really missed you.’”
Cut to those of us who’ve spent the better part of the past year either feeling claustrophobic with or completely isolated from our partners. Must be nice.
Ever the cheerleader, Ciara’s still looking at the bright side of life, even amidst the ongoing chaos—and that questionable jacket. (Remember what we said about life coaching?) “How am I living my life? How am I maximizing my life? I ask myself these questions, and I’m just dedicated to it,” she says, adding, “I feel like I’m in my best place ever in my life. I love where I am in every area.”
Again, must be nice. Yep, we’re triggered.