Willow Smith admits jealousy of 'curvier girls,' defends choice to grow out her armpit hair
Willow Smith is getting honest about her body image, social media pressure, and the controversial choice to grow her armpit hair.
In Monday’s installment of Red Table Talk, a 10-episode Facebook Watch series hosted by the 17-year-old, mom Jada Pinkett Smith, 46, and grandmother Adrienne Banfield-Jones, 64, discuss body image in the age of Instagram. The previous two episodes have focused on love, co-parenting, and grief.
In the latest segment, the women open up about their various body insecurities. “I have struggled with curvier girls [who] have always gotten more attention from the boys that I’ve liked,” said Willow. “And [who] have ended up dating the boys I’ve liked.” Seeing a pattern, she explained, “You start to wonder, ‘Dang, am I just not desirable? Like, is my body just like not what society likes?’ So it does just get really hard for a lot of girls.”
Body Confessions! Jada Tells All At The Table
At the Red Table this week, Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield Norris get real about body insecurities and explain why every single body is beautiful in its own way.Be sure to follow Red Table Talk for more episodes!
Posted by Red Table Talk on Monday, May 21, 2018
When Pinkett Smith reminded her daughter that she’s beautiful, Willow responded, “But you always get on me for my underarm hair!”
The teen has been growing her armpit hair since 2016, writing on Instagram, “Why should I have to alter the natural state of my body to be seen as socially acceptable?” And in 2017, the “Whip My Hair” singer posted an Instagram video featuring her shooting a bow and arrow while revealing her underarm hair.
A post shared by ≠GWEELOS≠ (@willowsmith) on Aug 30, 2017 at 4:29pm PDT
The decision to not shave, for which Willow has been called “vile” and “nasty,” came naturally to the teen. “It takes too much time,” she told her mom and grandmother. “I just want to get in the shower and get out….” When Banfield-Jones expressed disapproval toward her granddaughter’s look (“I’m not understanding at all”) Willow responded, “I’m going to be like my ancestors and just do what I need to do.”
Willow also reflected on a conversation she had with her father, Will Smith, who told her he was happy she wasn’t curvy “because guys will look at your brain more if you’re not curvier,” a message the teen said, “solidified all my experiences.”
Pinkett Smith also revealed that her fondness for hair wraps stems from feeling self-conscious about her hair loss, an experience that left her “shaking with fear.”
Willow took this shot of her grandmother, my mother, emerging from the ocean today. She is 61!I wanna be her when I grow up:)Happy Friday… J
Posted by Jada Pinkett Smith on Friday, November 28, 2014
“It was terrifying when it first started,” said the mother of two. “I was in the shower one day and then handfuls of hair, just in my hands and I was like, ‘OMG, am I going bald?’”
Ultimately, Pinkett Smith adopted a spiritual perspective to cope with her health problem, for which she has no diagnosis. “People have cancer, people have sick children,” she said. “I watch the higher power take things every day. And by golly, if the higher power wants to take your hair? That’s it? When I looked at it from that perspective, it did settle me. … Take the hair.”
Even at 64, Banfield-Jones is not above adhering to beauty standards. “For older women, youth is everything … so it really becomes challenging as you become older, to try to not get obsessed with trying to stay young,” she says. “Because sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and I don’t like what I see. The worst part of my body, for me, are my legs, my thighs. … People think it’s ridiculous, but I have mad cellulite and I hate it.”
Reflecting on her admitted weight gain, the grandmother, who became a social media sensation when photos of her fit physique were posted on Instagram, said, “In my mind, I feel fat. I know that that’s not true … but I certainly am bigger than I used to be.”
When Willow cut in with, “That’s not a problem,” her grandmother responded, “But it feels like a problem.”
Red Table Talk has been highly praised for its frank take on controversial subjects and the guests’ openness. When Pinkett Smith asks Willow if she’s learning to embrace her body, the teen says, “Slowly but surely. It’s a process, but more so, I am learning to appreciate myself as a whole.”
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