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Amber Riley Talks That 'Big Girl Energy' & Why She Doesn’t ‘F*** With The Body-Positive Community’

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Amber Riley is making a splash on the music scene with some Big Girl Energy that we’re totally here for. On the flip side, sis isn’t here for the body-positive community, but has a new way to own her curves. More inside…



Amber Riley is here and unapologetoc about occupying space, whether you like it or not. The “Glee” star is living and flourishing in the arts as she continues to build her empire.

The “Straight Outta Oz” actress graces the cover of HelloBeautiful’s November digital issue. Inside, she talks that Big Girl Energy we’re love, why she doesn’t “f*ck” with the body positive movement, how she’s handling the tragic death of her “Glee” co-star/friend Naya Rivera & her homie/journalist Jas Waters, and how she copes with anxiety and depression in 2020.

2020 has been a hard year for us all. Outside of politics and the COVID-19 pandemic, the passing of loved ones just adds to the turmoil. Amber lost two friends that were close to her and she shared how difficult it has been coming to terms with their passing.

“I think grieving is a never-ending thing. Many people often think that grieving is a destination. Some days I think of her and I laugh and some days I think of her and I cry. I also lost an incredible friend to suicide this year who is an incredible writer and I was looking forward to working with her, Jas Waters. So that was really difficult. She committed suicide and she died a couple of weeks before Naya so it was like a double blow. It was very, very hard to come to terms with, but we're making sure that we look out for her son because she was an incredible mother and if anybody knows Naya, she loved Josey. She loved that boy and I'm looking after her mommy too."


Although 2020 has thrown her some hard curve balls, Amber has been able to channel her energy into making new music. When she’s singing, she goes by the moniker Riley and her alter ego isn’t taking anyone’s ISH.

“Big girls are not out here [desperate]” she says, detailing a line in the song that asks a man when he’s leaving. “I literally wrote that to talk my sh-t.”

“There may be some that have low self-esteem – for good reason— because this world tries to make it seem like fat women shouldn't exist. Not fat men so much. They don't get the same bullsh-t that we have to deal with.”

“I wrote that song ‘Big Girl Energy,’ that was part of the reason that I wrote it, to just be like we not out here chasing y'all. What? You think I have low self-esteem and you just gone treat me any kind of way? I'll move on to the next.”

And that’s on PERIOD.



Just because she’s a curvy girl, doesn’t mean she automatically has to tap into the “body positive movement.” Sis said she’s going to be HER regardless.

“I don’t really f-ck with the body-positive community. I was pushed into it when I was on ‘Glee,’ which was crazy because I was young. I hadn’t even decided who I was and what I wanted to be. I just was this size on national television.”

“My body is mine. I don't need a community telling me what to do with it. I always have to be 100 percent real with myself. Honestly, if your confidence is predicated on the way that I look, it’s not confidence. I’m not anybody’s idol. Don’t worship me. Don’t get used to me being any size. I can get bigger, I can get smaller. I’m going to love myself either way, but I’m not asking for permission.”

OKUR! Big, small – it’s all about loving yourself.

Growing up, Riley struggled with anxiety and depression. She explained part of her anxiety was due to being oversexualized at a young age, so she felt she had to dress a certain way to suppress that behavior.

“I’ve dealt with anxiety my whole entire life and didn’t know I was dealing with depression at all so I ended up having to take the time to get help, to talk about stuff, get some stuff out, and then as I'm going through the healing process I was like, alright, let’s get back into the studio. I’m still going through this depression and anxiety pretty badly, you know what I'm saying, but let me use music as my therapy.” Keisha is the name RILEY gave her depression after her therapist encouraged her to personify it, and as of late, she’s been kicking Keisha’s ass. She’s been handling anxiety pretty well too after realizing one of its major causes.

“Part of my anxiety had to do with my size,” RILEY says, explaining she’s had curves since she was a kid. “I was overly sexualized when I was young so I'd always dress in big t-shirts and shapeless stuff my whole entire life. I didn’t like that I had hips already. I didn’t like that I had boobs. I hated it because I didn't like that kind of attention. Being young, I didn’t know that people oversexualized Black girls in general.”

As a means of coping, RILEY attempted to draw people’s attention away from her physical appearance by overplaying other attributes, like the fact that she was smart and funny and could sing. Eventually, she began to feel like people only appreciated her for how she could entertain them and that didn’t feel good either.

“That doesn’t work. You can’t live your whole entire life ignoring yourself and that’s what I did. It got to the point where I didn’t know who I was because I didn’t accept myself wholly. I accepted myself as a talent, that’s where I found my value, but I didn’ accept myself and where I was in my body. Although I thought I was beautiful and I did get attention, that wasn’t the issue; it was an inner issue. It didn’t have anything to do with guys. It had more to do with me being able to look in the mirror and mean it when I say that I’m beautiful.”

So many young, black girls go through this, so it’s refreshing to see a YBF Chick speak on the subject so other young, black girls can see they aren’t alone in this. And we love it.

You can read Amber's full interview here. Her debut EP 'RILEY' is currently streaming on all major platforms. 


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Photo: Amber's IG

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