As the only Black member of the famed girl group—they announced their indefinite hiatus in 2018 after six years together—the 24-year-old faced treatment that had a rippling impact on her self-image and confidence.
"Having certain things happen so blatantly while also feeling like the 'other' and being so young and hearing the public compare [us] took a toll on my confidence," she told Women's Health as the December cover star. "For a long time, I didn't believe in myself because I didn't feel like I was given the opportunity to."
The star elaborated on her experience in the group in a 2019 Billboard interview, referencing the time when she was the only member who sang background vocals on the track "No Way."
"So many sessions," she told Billboard, "I would cry like I've never cried before."
The "Motivation" singer further explained the subconscious ways she felt the inequality and the toll it took on her. "You think, 'Why am I the least followed in the group?'" she told Billboard. "Even if you don't recognize that you're paying close attention to it, it takes a toll on your confidence. You worry—is it me? Is it because I'm black? Or am I just not talented?"
While Normani acknowledged to Billboard that the other members "tried to be there for me as best as they could," they could never truly understand. "I don't think they had the tools that they needed, because it's not their experience. I can give them credit for trying to be there for me, but at the same time," she said, "the girls don't experience things the way I did."
"It's alarming when people you've looked up to, respect, and who kind of define who you are believe in you," she told Women's Health. "But it definitely gives me confidence. I'm grateful to feel seen and heard and like I can be the voice for so many people. Being a Black woman, I feel we're so multifaceted and have so much that we're capable of. It's really important to show Black girls and Black boys they can be anything they want to be."