Anna Gragert
May 03, 2016 1:07 pm
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

When you’re growing up and the hormones are rolling like a river, it’s easy to feel as though you’re the only human who feels sad, confused, lost, and irritated all at the same time. This may especially be the case when you’re in the public eye like Willow Smith, who is now opening up about her own growing pain-based insecurities.

On the surface, Willow exudes confidence. She’s a Chanel ambassador, a superstar singer, and someone who’s outspoken about her love of all things STEM. On the set of her Teen Vogue cover shoot, Willow is described as seeming “utterly unencumbered by the teenage plight of fitting in” because “there is a bigger picture to focus on.”

Though she’s Teen Vogue‘s May cover star, Willow isn’t afraid to show that she’s human, too. As a 15-year-old young woman, Willow isn’t immune to feeling lost as she works to find herself in this great big world. When asked if there was a time when she didn’t feel empowered, Smith answers“Yes. One hundred percent. After ‘Whip My Hair’ and all the publicity, after going on tour in the U.K., after saying no to the Annie film, all of this crap was going on in my life, and I had to sit down and say, ‘Who are you? On a real note. Are you this or this?’” (This strikes a chord with us all as we look back on our own self-discovery paths.)

Willow explains, “During that time of figuring it out, I was lost and super insecure. But then I stopped trying to find myself in these other inanimate objects, people, and ideas. I realized it isn’t about finding yourself—it’s about creating yourself.” She adds that she’s learned a lot about materialistically expressing herself and how it doesn’t change who she is on the inside: “A lot of clothes are cute, but after you buy the Yeezy shoes, after you get your hair done with a weave, you’re still the same person.” Willow believes that she isn’t the only one who’s embracing this philosophy, stating that other young people are also beginning to realize this.

As for who she is right now in her life, Willow feels incredibly fortunate. “Being a young African-American woman with dreads, it blows my mind that I’m a Chanel ambassador. Like, how am I a Chanel ambassador?” Smith wonders. “It is so beautiful. I’m coming into a new part of my life that is completely unknown, and I’m jumping right in.” It’s disappointing that even Willow is surprised by Chanel’s decision. Sadly, very few women of color have represented the fashion house as ambassadors. Then again, this is progress and we truly hope Chanel continues to diversify their brand in the not-so-distant future.

Willow concludes, “All I can do from here is continue to shift paradigms and continue to push the envelope further and further. But I am doing it every day just by being myself.”

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