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Porsha Williams Gets Real About Mom Shamers, Activism And PPD

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Porsha Williams Q&A
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Lest anyone was in doubt, Porsha Williams can hold her own against pretty much anyone, anytime, in any situation. The breakout star of Bravo’s top-rated Real Housewives of Atlanta is known for trading unfettered barbs with her costars, including Kenya Moore and Cynthia Bailey.

Suffice to say, it takes more than a few well-timed digs to get under Porsha’s skin, or silence her. But now she’s a mom. And the thing that got to her? Like, really, truly, pissed her off? Being judged for not breastfeeding her daughter Pilar, now 2, after having a planned C-section. “I love telling people that I’m a C-section mom, and that I didn’t breastfeed, and all of that, just to break that stigma,” says Williams, 40.

Williams documents her postpartum depression following her birth, the unraveling of her relationship with Pilar’s dad Dennis McKinley, and how she followed in the legacy of her great-grandfather, acclaimed civil rights leader Hosea Williams, to speak out against systemic racism following the murder of George Floyd, in her new book The Pursuit of Porsha: How I Grew Into My Power and Purpose.

While snuggling on her couch at home in Atlanta, she talked to Scary Mommy about the confidence, C-sections, and how she found her calling.

Which part of the book was the most difficult for you to write, the most where you felt like you were going to throw up?

Oh Lord, it was so many different points of the book actually. And I knew that. I knew that going into writing the book, because I knew overall the message I wanted to get across is that I was a survivor, so of course I had to talk about some of those moments that I felt I wasn’t going to make it. So I would have to say, every encounter that I talked about with a man taking advantage and definitely childhood depression was pretty difficult to revisit and talk about in the book. Because a lot of that, I actually had never spoken out loud to anybody. It was pretty therapeutic to recount those.

Did you feel, especially as a mom of a daughter, that it was extra important to talk about all that stuff, especially in regards to relationships?

For sure. Absolutely. And it wasn’t an easy decision to make. It was after talking to a male friend of mine who had daughters who told me that if I could find the strength to talk about it, it would help his daughters, me talking to my mom and tell her some of those things. Even a lot of them, she didn’t find out until after reading the book, but me kind of telling her some of those things, and her encouraging me that she supported me and being open about a lot of those things. When it came to my daughter, when I really sat and thought about the effect that my book would have on her and her teenage years or her early adult years and dealing with men, I knew that I had to put my big girl panties on and deal with some of these things in the book. I knew it.

And mostly because in the times where I had to deal with these different situations, if I would’ve just known someone or someone I looked up to like my mother or a celebrity, if I knew that they had gone through something like that, it would just make me feel not so alone. And I could have probably made some better choices in some of those situations. So I really do hope that that’s what the book will end up doing for Pilar. And I know it will.

What would the Porsha today say to Porsha 10 years ago?

So 10 years ago is when I joined Housewives.

Exactly!

It’s when I joined Housewives. It’s when I got a divorce. All of that happened exactly 10 years ago, when I was 30. I would just tell myself to be patient. Be patient with yourself. Don’t be so anxious. Don’t try to control anything. Continue to trust the same God who’s brought me through so much. Trust him, and life will be less stressful. That’s what I would tell her.

You were very open in the book about how hard you were on yourself that you had to have a C-section because of your fibroids. I have fibroids. I had a C-section, but you’re right. We’re conditioned to feel like you’re not a real mother if you didn’t really give birth. You were open that breastfeeding was an issue for you. It was for me too, and it was the same thing. It’s almost like you’re ashamed to tell people that you’re poisoning your child with formula.

Right.

And by the way, I’m shocked that Pilar is still alive since you fed her poison.

I’m serious. The stigma of that is very real. You and I, since we had to give ourselves, give our children this powder poison, we’re okay with it. But no, really. Around the time when I gave birth to her and people would ask me, ‘Do you breastfeed?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, no.’ And they’re like, ‘You’re not breastfeeding?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, it doesn’t really work like that for all moms, especially C-section moms, because they pull our babies before it’s actually time, and they don’t tell you that.’

If they were to tell you beforehand that, hey, we’re taking your baby two weeks early, so your breasts might not be quite ready. Naturally, she may not be ready to pull yet. If they were to tell you that, you’d be like, okay, this is normal that it’s not working out. But since they don’t tell you, you’re like, oh, I’m freaking not normal. What’s up with my body? What’s up with my baby? And it is just a whole mind thing that you go through that really, truly sent me into postpartum depression at the time.

And the expectations that you put on yourself of what motherhood is supposed to look like and how a baby is supposed to get here. You don’t have to have actual birth to be a mom. You could adopt, you could have a surrogate, you could do C-section, whatever. As long as they get here and call you mama, you’re all right.

And also your daughter has really sick fashion sense. I do have to say.

She does. She does! It’s so crazy. I’ve been letting her dress herself lately, and we’ve gotten some rain boots with polka dot tights and crazy stuff. But it works.

Your activism is so impressive. Do you think that that’s where your true calling is now?

I feel like my true calling is just to be a voice for the people, for people who are voiceless, definitely in the realm social justice. I have no problem speaking truth to power in that. Of course, it’s in my blood from my grandfather, Reverend Hosea Williams. Also, when it comes to African American women’s treatment in the healthcare system. So anywhere I can use this platform and this spotlight that I’ve been blessed with over the years, I definitely feel like it’s my calling. So that’s kind of where I’m moving my celebrity to is anything that I feel needs more attention and needs to be amplified. I speak to it.

Now, are people surprised if they see you on Real Housewives, and you’re partying, you’re on vacation, you guys are doing your whatever. Do you bring your activism to the show?

I talked about it on the show after the fact, because we started recording still in quarantine and after everyone in the streets protesting, then it was protest to policy change. So then we were trying to get Biden in office, get our DA, et cetera. So, I was able to talk about it on the show. I think what’s so unique about my journey is that wherever I find myself, I bring my heart, and I bring transparency. I’m authentic when I talk about something. It’s something that I truly believe in.

So whatever realm I’m in, I’m pretty much respected in that realm. I don’t have that sense of imposter feeling that a lot of people may get. Oh gosh, I’m a reality star. Will I be taken seriously at this town hall? I don’t get that feeling at all, because I don’t care who you are. If you have a platform, you have to use it.

And for me, I’m grateful to be known as this reality star that people care about me partying on vacation. If you’re watching that and listening to that, come over here a little bit longer and let me tell you what’s happening for black folks. Let me tell you what’s happening in our healthcare system. Let me tell you about being a survivor. So for me, I look at it as an opportunity for me to use this platform.

What is the part of the book that you think will surprise people the most?

I think me being as transparent as I am, I think that’s really different for a celebrity memoir. I think that a lot of celebrities write these books, and you buy it because of who they are. I really feel like people are going to be able to experience me in a whole new level, and see me in a whole new way and get a different Porsha. And it’s really going to give them a better perspective of the Porsha that they’ve gotten to know, because even though I was on reality TV they got to know me there, but in the book, it’s a whole other side. That’s very unexpected for them. It’s a little more serious and, like I said, a survival story, but hold on just a second. Let me shut my door because she’s pulling tape and it’s loud.

I just want to cuddle up on that couch with you.

Oh my gosh. I have never regretted getting this couch ever. It’s super comfy.

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