Lizzo, Simone Biles, Nikole Hannah-Jones share cover of Essence

The three women speak on mental health and self-care for the magazine's forthcoming holiday issue.

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Lizzo, Simone Biles and Nikole Hannah-Jones are all featured on a special split cover for the November/December holiday issue of Essence.

Each of the ladies is featured under the headline “The Year of Radical Self-Care: Nikole Hannah-Jones, Simone Biles and Lizzo on Bravely Choosing Themselves.” They talk to the magazine about the liberating act of saying “no” within their own respective fields in order to preserve their mental health.

Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist behind The 1619 Project, was offered a tenured position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) that was revoked in lieu of a five-year contract. However, once UNC re-voted in her favor and finally approved her tenure after much criticism and backlash, Hannah-Jones turned it down.

Nikole Hannah-Jones thegrio.com
(Photo by Itaysha Jordan)

In her cover story, “When ‘NO’ Opens Doors,” Hannah-Jones speaks about how saying “no” to UNC led to a tenured position with Howard University instead. “It was important for me to say no to UNC, for my dignity, my self-respect,” she said. “And then, outside of me, I needed to do it for Black people and marginalized people, for their dignity and respect, too.”

With 19 gold medals and 25 medals overall, Biles is the most decorated Olympic gymnast in American history. However, she elected to withdraw from this summer’s Olympics games, citing mental health issues and the desire to protect her “mind and body,” as previously reported by theGrio. For her cover story, “More Than a Medal,” Biles tells Essence about how that decision was best for her, despite the backlash.

Simone Biles thegrio.com
(Photo by Chrisean Rose)

“I definitely knew any stand I took would be a little bit bigger than itself,” Biles said. “At the end of the day, we’re humans. We’re not just athletes. We’re not just here for entertainment.”

Perhaps the only thing that Lizzo gets as much attention for besides her music are the steamy photos and selfies she posts on social media. The Grammy-winning singer and musician has turned a lot of heads with her songs and by flaunting her full-figure physique in bikinis, and the criticism hasn’t always been complimentary.

In her story, “Simply Being,” the “Cause I Love You” singer expounds on detractors who say what kind of music she should or shouldn’t be doing as a Black musician.

Lizzo thegrio.com
(Photo by Ramona Rosales)

“I use 808s, just not in the same way everyone else does,” Lizzo said. “I have songs I could drop right now, but that’s just not my purpose. That’s not why God made me and put me on this planet at this exact time.”

As far as her campaign for body positivity, she is ready to move on from the topic and continue to be a full-figured woman who embraces her body. “It’s exhausting,” Lizzo admitted. “And that’s the point. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. We should be neutral about bodies.”

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