The name Nicole Richie may bring up a number of connotations: skinny, rich, messy – and while these are all true (or at least they were in 2006), she’s also unexpectedly eloquent. The daughter of Lionel Richie addresses her turbulent past and getting fucked up while the world watched, in a letter: Untitled: and that’s the point! for Lenny Letter, and not only is it well-written, but it’s totally real. Nicole starts her poignant essay talking about her 35th birthday last month, and how how people always use these ocassions to highlight her wilder years.
“…as firmly as I believe in the importance of looking forward, there are some moments when we should, and even have to, look back. Often for me those moments come while I’m on the couch with my girlfriends, or listening to my husband make fun of the younger version of me. The end result is sometimes smiles and laughter, and there are often moments of disbelief like I’m talking about someone else.”
“I was so used to hearing others’ views of my life that I found myself believing them. I sat and wondered, Why do I laugh at home, but feel shamed out in the world? With my family and close friends, I am owning my past, relishing in the absurdity, slightly flinching at my own naïveté, and giving myself props for the unabashed bravery that streaked through my youth. But not trying to hide from it, not trying to change it, just allowing it to help propel me forward.”
Nicole’s relationship with her younger self is refreshing and healthy; owning who you were, even if that’s not you anymore – because that hot trashy mess helped you get there. It’s not turning around and boasting about that section of one’s life, but rather a bad-ass unapologetic-ness.
“I finally realized that taking on someone else’s vision of you can be very dangerous. People attempt to categorize and label so they can feel upright and comfortable. If you are hard to understand, they don’t feel safe, so they put you in a box that they recognize […] I finally realized that taking on someone else’s vision of you can be very dangerous”
“It is no secret that I have, at times, taken advantage of my time on this planet. And as much as I have to look at those moments and learn from them, as we all do, it’s important for me to have gratitude for that time, too. Not shame. Being ashamed of your life is not OK.”
“I could fall into the role-playing that some people seem to want and say, “YES! I am so sorry. I was bad. I am good now! I promise.” But I don’t believe in that story of redemption, a good-prevailing-over-evil story. It’s one I’m just not in. I am not going to apologize for being me so you can get your triumphant ending. I don’t believe the world operates in absolutes, in black and white and short and tall — I like living in the gray, in the medium.”
It’s not down to other people to define us, and it’s isn’t our place to justify our behaviour, because as long as you aren’t ashamed of it, it’s not necessary.
“I’ve been given many titles: Wild child. Reality star. White-washed black girl. Skinny. Rich. (I guess the last two aren’t so bad). Now, at 35, the only titles I am taking on are the ones I give myself.”
We loved you as a skinny hot mess, and we love you even more for this. Read the FULL letter here.