“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” –Bryant McGill, thought leader
A pen dropped, and everyone in the room literally heard it. That was due to the deafening silence that enveloped the scene moments before “Black Ink Crew” star Crystana “Dutchess” Lattimore took the first photographs for her exclusive cover shoot with rolling out.
By the time the dropped ballpoint ink pen was finally retrieved by an intern responsible for charting Lattimore’s movements throughout the day, a pronouncement from the tatted star had already been made — officially putting everyone within earshot on notice.
“This is going to be a great shoot today,” she began. “Lately, I haven’t felt as beautiful as I would have liked, but today I feel good. This shoot is just what I needed.”
A once private life shared through the skewed lens of a reality show, a public breakup, and daily commentary from complete strangers aiming to get up under your skin can leave anyone ragged and rough. But those things aside, here Lattimore stood, ready to complete a full swimsuit shoot for rolling out — in December.
But after hearing her story — the pain, the doubts, the judgments — it all began to make complete sense. This was Lattimore’s release … her moment to reclaim the womanhood that had threatened to be forever erased by the powers that be.
Here she stood, though, emboldened to tell her story in the rawest of terms. And we were fortunate to capture every moment of it.
I’m looking forward to today’s convo, because our talks always get pretty deep. What’s interesting is that I don’t think the average person knows exactly how thoughtful you are. Why do you think that is?
I just think that it comes from people only seeing me through the show. I don’t think that people have ever seen the true me because they don’t want you to see the true me. The version that you see on TV is the more entertaining version.
So that version isn’t you?
No, it’s not. Because the things that you see a lot of times are reactions to situations that I would never put myself in, in a million years. And I know it’s coming, and I try to remind myself not to let it get the best of me, but you can be pushed and pushed and pushed, until you finally just respond because you’ve reached your breaking point. That’s the part to me that’s unfair.
I understand how that might feel to be pushed past your limits when youíre in those moments. But what happens when time has passed, and then the show airs? Does that make it a tougher pill to swallow in those situations?
Having to relive situations that you have already experienced in real life is hard. When you deal with it in real life, you have an entirely different perception of things because you’re in the moment. When we watch the show — even though I try my best not to watch — it can complicate things.
Wait. You don’t watch your own show?
I try not to. I always have to call my friends and ask, “Hey, did you watch the show tonight? How bad was it?” I have to do that because I literally can’t stomach it. It just makes things hard, because it forces you to dig up emotions about things that you may have left in the past. It’s also hard because it lets you hear things that someone may not have been bold enough to say to your face … or you may see someone who says things because they think it’s going to help them become more popular. There’s just so much that goes into all of this.
So has that made being in a relationship — and now going through the breakup — harder because it is in the public eye, with so many factors playing behind the scenes?
I need a second before I’m ready to talk about that.
OK, we’ll come back to that. On a different note, we’ve been hearing that you are going to be co-hosting a radio show with DJ Waffles. What prompted that?
I’m really excited about that. It’s something that I wanted to try, because I just want to do something different … and I also really like stuff like that. I like discussing topics, and giving people an interesting perspective to think about.
Have you found that with your increased popularity and visibility that youíre finding out more about yourself through your new experiences?
Yes, it has. It’s allowing me to really live life in a way that’s full. The more things you experience, the more opportunities you give yourself to find out who you really are. It’s like when you were asking earlier about being in a public relationship, and the breakup … I just feel like when you’re in a committed relationship, it can be hard sometimes to focus on yourself. When you’re like me, you spend all of your time focusing on that person, and doing everything for them. I’m not saying it was right, but that’s how I was living my life. And I do think that I in some ways lost myself in it. And I know that there are a lot of women out there that are just like me. And it took a while to get there … and I’m still trying to get there.
Where are you trying to get?
To a place where I can confidently say that I love myself. I’m not sure if I’ve ever known how to fully do that. And it wasn’t until now, when I’m looking in the mirror, that I can see that I need to work harder at doing that. I can look back on so many things, and see where I wasn’t really loving myself in the way that I should. It kinda makes me sad to think that I never realized it until now. Better late than never, I guess …
Why do you think that it was such a hard lesson for you to learn?
Loving yourself as a woman is sometimes so hard because we’re so used to putting all the people we love before us. I have been so guilty of this — but if you love yourself first, and the most, next to God — you will allow more people to love you. More importantly, you will stop seeking the validation and the love you may have thought you needed. So I’m working my way through it, and working my way through this process slowly, graciously and gratefully.