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23 Dec

Lori Harvey Loves Herself – Essence

Lori Harvey photographed by Emmanuel Sanchez Monsalve. Harvey is wearing a Tiffany & Co. Elsa Peretti® snake necklace in 18k gold, extra large, $53,000, tiffany.com.

It’s easy to assume Lori Harvey. Her name’s all the time within the headlines and on the tip of everybody’s tongue—most frequently in regard to the lads she’s said to have dated. It’s easy, almost expected, to think you’ve got her found out; that what the just about 26-year-old daughter of a noted fashionista and King of Comedy is all about. We will thank, or blame, the celebrity gossip and news ecosystem for that. And up so far, Harvey’s been fairly silent about all that’s come through the grapevine.

“Because I’ve been so quiet this whole time, the Web has created narratives for me,” she says, with clarity, on a recent winter evening in Los Angeles. “Persons are just taking whatever bits of gossip and rumors that they’ve, after which creating that as a truth. In point of fact, nearly all of the time it’s up to now from the reality. So, it will possibly be tough.”

Harvey’s saving grace has been a chunk of wisdom from her mother: “For many who know and love you, no answer is required. But for individuals who don’t, no answer will do.” “That’s where the strong sense of self comes into play,” Harvey explains. “Just understanding and really knowing who I’m, and never letting the surface opinions or noise affect me internally.”

Lori Harvey Loves Herself
Lori Harvey Loves Herself
Lori Harvey photographed by Emmanuel Sanchez Monsalve. On Harvey: a Laquan SmithSpring Summer 2023 top, not for purchase, vintage Celinejeans and Bvlgari bracelet $30,000, bulgari.com.

She is, quite literally, unconcerned with the rumor mill—and as an alternative has directed her attention inward. Because, to borrow RuPaul’s famous phrase, “When you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love someone else?” The result, Harvey says matter-of-factly, is that “this moment is about me.”

We’re seated on adjoining pleather couches within the dressing room of a South Los Angeles studio. Harvey’s legs are crisscross-applesauced. She’s calm and all smiles, having spent the day shooting her first ESSENCE cover. For the “Black Love” issue. With no man on her arm. She’s proud, and palpably so. “I feel prefer it’s all the time been about me attached to something or someone,” she says. “This time, it’s about me. Self love, self-care, self-reflection. I’m being just a little selfish without delay. It’s my time.”

Harvey was born in Memphis on January 13, 1997, when Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart” ruled the charts. By age 3, she’d already booked her first modeling gig, for a kids’ clothing boutique called Cotton Tails. The ad ran in a neighborhood newspaper. In 2005, her mother, Marjorie, reconnected with comedian Steve Harvey, whom she’d first met at a Memphis comedy club a decade before Lori was born. The couple married in 2007 and blended their families; Steve adopted Lori and her two siblings, making a family, seven children strong. As Marjorie and Steve’s individual careers and level of visibility grew—hers as a fashion blogger, designer and socialite, his as a “self-help” writer and game- and talk-show host—their kids were largely out of the highlight. It’s said that they had as a standard childhood as one can, considering the circumstances. Young Harvey first fell in love with fashion when, as a preteen, she began attending major runway shows together with her mom. Later, her passion became competitive horse riding. She desired to go to the Olympics and was training to achieve this when, at 18, she tore her MCL and suffered a serious back injury in a riding accident. Begrudgingly, she accepted that she’d likely never ride competitively again and, with a face card that never declines, she returned to fashion and modeling.

A few yr later, she walked her first major runway show with Dolce & Gabbana, occurring to star in quite a few their campaigns. Today, Harvey is an industry It girl with almost five million followers on Instagram, and she or he signed with IMG Models and WME last yr. But she’s also a businesswoman, having launched her skincare line, SKN by LH, in 2021—with no financial support from her parents.

“That has arguably been certainly one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life, but additionally one of the rewarding and fulfilling,” she says of SKN, “because that is the very first thing that I’ve really been capable of call my very own thing that I’ve really been capable of call my very own, that I built from the bottom up. It might’ve been very easy for me to simply ask my parents to attach me with people and set it up, and I’ll just slap my name on it and go about my day. But I actually desired to learn the ins and outs of the business. I desired to be very hands-on with all the pieces I used to be doing, and I desired to make the mistakes, in order that I could learn from them and really know how one can be a businesswoman at the tip of the day.”

And she or he’s just getting began, with plans to branch out into television, digital content, acting and producing. That is the opposite side of Harvey that many don’t see or discuss. Her drive to be greater than a fairly face, or the daughter of a star couple, is overshadowed by an obsession together with her love life. Over time, more attention has been paid to who Harvey is dating, or not dating. Many ladies, especially Black women, know this microscope all too well, particularly the way it judges those with an apparently robust and lively romantic life more harshly than their male counterparts.

Lori Harvey Loves Herself
Lori Harvey photographed by Emmanuel Sanchez Monsalve. top, $550, embroidered calfskin shorts, $5,500, and necklace (as a belt), $300, all at select Chanel boutiques nationwide; Wolfordtights, similar style available at wolfordshop.com; Panthère de Cartier watch, and Cartier High Jewelry earrings, $5,000, all available at Cartier boutiques nationwide.

“It might be tough at times, especially because I’m a super-private person,” Harvey admits. She doesn’t particularly take care of her personal life to develop into gossip fodder or the newest news item, and she or he has tried to guard her privacy as much as possible. But people still talk. One social media discussion pitted Harvey against fictional Cosby Show matriarch, Clair Huxtable, asserting that her assumed dating history makes Harvey less wifey material than the character played by Phylicia Rashad from 1984 to 1992. The conversation centered on respectability, ultimately saying more concerning the (mostly) men contributing to the discourse than about Harvey herself—or about another woman or femme whose desirability gets filtered through cisgender and heterosexual male gazes.

“I feel plenty of times, individuals are projecting,” Harvey says concerning the online chatter. “Typically, what I even have found is when it’s guys who feel that way, it’s because they know that they will’t meet you at your standards. Which is okay, too. The whole lot ain’t for everyone. But what I might love for people to know is that I’m a young woman just attempting to figure it out—but I’m attempting to figure it out in the general public eye,” she adds. “That magnifies all the pieces. It magnifies your mistakes. It magnifies the ups and downs of just navigating your life and figuring it out for yourself.”

Harvey has been a public figure her entire adult life to this point, and through her early twenties, no less—a time of general self-exploration for most individuals. But few of us have needed to contend with the watchful eyes of tens of millions studying our every move. Yet Harvey has no regrets—and no shame. “Every decision that I even have made has got me to the place that I’m at in my life, as a girl—and the mindset that I’m in, and the
growth that I’ve made, and this level of clarity and maturity,” she points out. “So I don’t think I might say I regret anything.”

Recently, audio from comedian Mo’Nique’s 2007 special I Coulda Been Your Cellmate! has surfaced in tens of 1000’s of social media videos. The joke describes the Queen of Comedy—who revealed she’d been divorced twice and was days away from marrying her third husband on the time of the film’s taping—expressing her commitment to like. “Never quit on love,” she says. “I’m a bitch that believes—if one ni**a don’t work, get one other one. If that ni**a don’t work, get one other one. And if that ni**a don’t work…get two ni**as!”

While on the surface the bit is about pursuing love, but what it’s really about is being in constant pursuit of 1’s own happiness. And even now, after 15 years, Mo’Nique taps into the attitude of a certain sort of Black woman or femme. The sort who puts themselves first, refusing to have their confidence tethered to speculation and hearsay. The sort for whom settling for somebody who doesn’t meet their needs is antithetical. The sort that’s undaunted by the journey to like, since it puts them most in contact with themselves and their desires. It’s bad bitchery by one other name, and Lori Harvey—whose own alleged relationship journey is captured in not less than one fan-created social media video, with Mo’Nique’s words because the rating—is solidly in her bad bitch era. “It’s not about being smug or about feeling like I’m too good, or too this or too that,” she clarifies. “I do know my value, and I do know my value. I’m not going to compromise that, or settle, or accept anything lower than what I do know I deserve.”

Article continues after video.

Lori Harvey Loves Herself
Lori Harvey photographed by Emmanuel Sanchez Monsalve. Harvey wears a Diordress and earrings, prices upon request, available at Dior boutiques nationwide.

“My experience has taught me that I want someone who respects me—someone who understands and respects my standards and my boundaries and is a supportive, God-fearing man, family-oriented, and makes me feel at peace.”

It won’t seem to be it at first, but such a positioning is definitely a radical form of affection. It’s one which challenges and bucks up against how we’ve been told Black women should move through the world romantically, if not also professionally and socially. She’s also decentering of a sort of love rooted in a patriarchal version of Black womanhood. Harvey knows that she is the prize. And she or he’s a part of a generational shift-in-progress, through which many young, Black women in the general public eye are making their very own recent rules. They’re claiming as their very own a personhood that’s as complex and nuanced because the totality of human experience. As many Black women before them have done.

There’s Cardi and Megan and Latto, whose raps unapologetically champion female sexuality. There’s Lizzo, who as a fat, Black woman boldly resists anti-fatness, and subsequently anti-Blackness—triumphantly and defiantly loving the skin she’s in, and twerking, ass out and Sasha Flute in hand, every probability she gets.

After which there’s Harvey, who by the very nature of embracing the trial and error of life, despite what public perception may come, models a definition of affection many won’t understand. In some ways, she’s even rejected the “Act like a girl, think like a person” mantra from her father’s Latest York Times bestseller, which became a movie in 2012. Fairly, she’s acting like a boss and considering like one, too.

But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want love. Actually, when asked about what Black love looks wish to her, she speaks longingly of her grandparents’ marriage of over 65 years. She describes a love that smells like peaches and cream or honey; a love that looks like fresh air or a warm hug, or like listening to your favorite song.

“My experience has taught me that I want someone who respects me—someone who understands and respects my standards and my boundaries and is a supportive, God-fearing man, family-oriented, and makes me feel at peace,” she says. “That’s where I’m at in my life without delay. I’m not compromising my peace and happiness for
anything or anybody. And so if I see any signs of that occuring, I’m like, ‘Got to go!’”

She’s also praying, she says, “to be the perfect version of myself, in order that someday, after I am ready, I might be the lady that I have to be for that union to achieve success. But without delay, I’m just praying to higher my life for myself—growing my businesses and brand, growing my relationship with God, growing right into a stronger, higher woman day by day.”

Lori Harvey is being selfish. But not necessarily in a conventional sense. Being selfish doesn’t must involve an absence of consideration for others. It doesn’t must be framed as an egotistical or mindful unwillingness to prioritize the needs and desires of others. In a essential rewriting of the foundations, being most concerned with one’s own happiness isn’t negative within the slightest.

It often is the best act of affection.

“Put yourself first,” Harvey sums up. “Love yourself. Put yourself on the very best pedestal, and don’t ever come down.”


Written by Tre’vell Anderson 

Photographed by Emmanuel Sanchez Monsalve 

Styling by Yashua Simmons  

Hair by Ray Christopher using Ray Christopher Co. Luxury Clip-Ins 

Makeup by Leah Darcey Pike at ICA 

Nails by Chaun Legend using The GelBottle Inc. at The Only Agency 

Set Design by Jesse Hoffman 

Set Design Assistants: Vivian Hicks, Deondre Davis, Jesse Clark 

Digitech: Mikayla Jean Miller 

Photographer Assistants: Jupiter Jones, Elliot Smith-Hastie, Walker Lewis, Mikayla Jean Miller  

Stylist Assistants: Julian Mack, Stef Contreras 

Nail Assistant: Misheelt Khosbayar  

Tailor: Tatiana Sali-Souleiman 

Production Manager: Perris Cavalier 

Production Coordinators: Alaura Wong, Zhane Santisteban 

Production Assistants: Frankie Benkovic, Alani Waters 

Shot at Studios 60  

With Due to L’Ermitage Beverly Hills & Heirloom LA 

Photography Direction by Michael Quinn 

Production by The Morrison Group 

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