International Women’s Day Fashion Bomb Exclusive: Singer Brandy on Motherhood, Womanhood, and the Definition of A Strong Woman; Photography by Tyren Redd, Styling by Michael Mann

In honor of International Women’s Day, I chatted with our March 2017 cover star, Brandy, about womanhood, motherhood, and the definition of a strong woman.


Shirt, Tee, & Belt: The Kooples @thekooplesofficial
Leather Trouser: Angelys Balek @angelysbalekny
Leather Jacket: Iijin @iijinusa
Shoes: Teatum Jones @teatumjones


I’ve been a fan of Brandy since her kohl rimmed, almond shaped eyes first graced the cover of Seventeen magazine. Seeing a girl who looked like me was encouraging–at the time, seeing brown skinned girls grace popular magazines was a rarity, but her presence encouraged me to embrace all that I was, fully. I mimicked her style of dress, and soulfully danced to her “I Wanna be Down” video. Brandy was, and still is, a young woman killing it, making significant strides in television (Thea, Moesha, The Game) and music (she has sold over 40 million records worldwide, making her one of the best selling female artists of all time). It was more than a joy to have the chance to chat with her about identity, overcoming hurdles, and the strength of a woman.

Suit: Iijin @iijinusa
Coat: The Kooples @thekooplesofficial
Earrings: Sutra Jewels @sutrajewels


The singer, actress, and producer has been through quite a few challenges in her career, from growing up in the spotlight to most recently suing her record label. She offered, “[The Definition of a Strong Woman is] when you can hold your ground and you can be firm about your life and the things that you want and the things that you deserve; [It’s when you know] what you’re worth and how you value yourself. Having that kind of poise and having that kind of strength. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to find my own strength because it hasn’t always been like this. I’m thankful that I’m very very strong. I wouldn’t lose that for the world.”

Suit, Shirt, & Belts: The Kooples @thekooplesofficial


She continues, “[I’ve been through so many] challenges, so many different ups and downs. [I’ve been able] to see I am more powerful than my circumstance. While the circumstance is still gone because you have overcome it, you are the one that is still there. When you look back with your hindsight, you can see that, ‘This is what I’ve Come Through? I’m a Beast, I’m Amazing. I can beat anything.’ I think over time, it’s a gradual build of your strength and your muscles.”

Outfit: The Kooples @thekooplesofficial
Earrings: Sutra Jewels @sutrajewels


She cites her mother, Sonja Norwood as an example of a strong woman in her life. She explains, “She has always been there for me. She has always shown so much strength in so many different circumstances in both of our lives together. She’s always tried to remind me that I’m here for a reason and I’m here for a huge purpose. [She tells me to not] let anyone try to diminish just why GOD created me. It took me a while to really get that. But, I have it now. I am grateful, and humbled and thankful to her for waiting for me to get to this point. Because it’s hard to watch your daughter go through things and then watch her have to be strong for herself. And then when [I] finally get that strength and get that power [I’ve] been working so hard to get, it’s a relief for her. She can exhale knowing that I have my best interests at heart.”

Shirt, Tee, & Belt: The Kooples @thekooplesofficial
Leather Trouser: Angelys Balek @angelysbalekny
Leather Jacket: Iijin @iijinusa
Shoes: Teatum Jones @teatumjones


In addition to having a wonderfully strong mother, Brandy is also a mother herself to a 14-year-old daughter, Sy’rai. She says, “Being a mother has completely turned me into an example. You can’t be a hypocrite. You can’t teach your children anything if you’re not doing it yourself. I lead by what I do. I remember what it was like to be a child. Mixing those two things together means you can get a great relationship with your children. You can help them to be strong and help guide them. One of the things I teach my daughter is that her life is not my life, it’s her life. Her intuition is something that she’s gonna have to learn how to trust. It’s my job to help her to trust and to love herself by using examples of what I’ve gone through and then using examples of what she’s gone through to help her make the best out of her life. I’ve gone through so much and she doesn’t have to go through it because I’ve been through it for her. I just want to continue to be understanding, not abuse my authority, but still be firm enough to check her and help her go down the right path.”

Suit: Iijin @iijinusa
Coat: The Kooples @thekooplesofficial
Earrings: Sutra Jewels @sutrajewels


In fact, she credits motherhood as one on her life’s greatest achievements. She offers, “My daughter has really turned everything into me being the greatest version of myself. I strive every day to be the greatest version of myself because of her existence. I don’t think I would be here today if my daughter didn’t come into my life when I was 23. She made me see what was real and what was not. I am so thankful for her life. And I’m so equipped to be everything she needs me to be for her life because she’s done so much for mine. I’m just gonna keep going and going and keep showing her to never give up on herself.”

Outfit: The Kooples @thekooplesofficial
Earrings: Sutra Jewels @sutrajewels

Even though she has been through some trials and tribulations with her label, she says, “The music is definitely happening. I have been fighting for freedom for a while as an artist. That why it’s taken me so long. I’m very very excited for my new songs. These are songs that are a raw truth about a particular phase in my life that I just had to confront. This is going to be some of the best work I’ve ever done. Because I know who I am.”



She continues, “There was a time where I didn’t know who I really was. It has nothing to do with status or with records, or anything. I didn’t know my worth or my value. I didn’t have a sense of self. I didn’t really know who I was or what I was here to do. I asked myself, “What am I here to do? What was I created for?” I lost track of that. And to lose track of that is almost like the walking dead. People can do anything to you, people can take advantage of you, people can manipulate you and take you down alleys you don’t deserve to go down. This has happened in many different phases of my life. But I can assure you today, in 2017, on whatever date this is, that that will never happen again. That mentality is something I will never revert to again. Once you know, you can never unknow it. You know who you are. You can see who you are, and you can never unsee it. I’m very blessed to be in this state of being.”

Editorial Credits:
EIC//Interview: Claire Sulmers @ClaireSulmers
Editorial Director// Michael Mann @michael.mann
Photographer: Tyren Redd @tyrenredd
Fashion// akixmann @akixmann
Hair: Dr. Kari Williams @drkariwill
Make-up Artist: Gaby Torell @makeupartistgaby

Video Edit: Will Sikora @sikoraent

Location: Concrete Studios LA @concretestudiosla

Claire

Claire Sulmers is the publisher and founder of Fashion Bomb Daily, the #43 most influential style magazine in the world.

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