Inside Shakira's Fierce New Chapter After Her Breakup With Gerald Piqué

Shakira wore her heart on the outside as she processed her split from Gerard Piqué and is bouncing back on top at the 2023 VMAs.

By Natalie Finn Sep 12, 2023 11:00 AMTags
Watch: Shakira Brings Her Sons as Her Dates to Premios Juventud

There's conscious uncoupling. And then there's what Shakira and Gerard Piqué did.

"You left me the in-laws as my neighbors / Media outlets at my door and in debt," she sang in the unassumingly titled "BZRP Music Session #53," her smash-hit collab with Argentine DJ Bizarrap that dropped in January. "You thought you hurt me, but you made me stronger / Women don't cry anymore, they cash in."

And one more (translated-from Spanish-to-English) salvo for the road: "I wish you good luck with my supposed replacement / I don't even know what happened to you/ You are so strange that I can't even distinguish you / I'm worth two of 22 / You traded a Ferrari for a Twingo / You traded a Rolex for a Casio."

(To which Casio replied that the brand was a very durable choice for all your timekeeping and calculator needs, thank you very much.)

But Shakira's fans sensed a shot had been fired—seemingly at Piqué and his girlfriend Clara Chia Marti, whom he promptly went Instagram-official with two weeks after the song came out. 

And Shakira, who's enjoyed a platinum-selling career belting out rollicking songs about love, lust and heartbreak, didn't quibble with that assumption.

Shakira & Gerard Piqué: Romance Rewind

"I've had a very rough year after my separation, and writing this song has been so important to me," the Colombian artist said on The Tonight Show back in March. "It's been a healthy way to channel my emotions."

So there you go: She may not have been directly calling Marti a Twingo (which, BTW, is a little hatchback made by Renault), but she was definitely feeling some kind of way when she penned those lyrics.

And, really, the barbed breakup track was months in the making, Shakira and Piqué having confirmed in June 2022 that their 11-year relationship had come to an end. She has since moved to Miami with their sons Milan, 10, and Sasha, 8, after years of living primarily in Spain while Piqué, now retired, was a star center-back for FC Barcelona.

Xavi Torrent/Getty Images

Shakira explained in an April 2 Instagram post that she relocated to be near her family and thanked the people of Barcelona for being so great while she was there. The 46-year-old also pointedly noted that the friendships she'd formed in the capital city had ultimately lasted longer than the love. (She is also still facing tax fraud charges in Spain, and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.)

"Thank you to everyone who cheered me up, dried my tears, inspired me and made me grow," she wrote, translated from the original Spanish.

Shakira & Gerard Piqué's Family Album

Talking to Elle a year ago, her first interview addressing her breakup, Shakira explained why her situation was particularly complicated.

"It's hard to talk about it, especially because I'm still going through it," she said, "and because I'm in the public eye and because our separation is not like a regular separation. And so it's been tough not only for me, but also for my kids. Incredibly difficult."

Paparazzi wouldn't leave them alone, she continued, and she tried to shield Milan and Sasha as much as she could. 

"But then," she added, "they hear things in school from their friends or they come across some disagreeable, unpleasant news online, and it just affects them, you know?...It's really upsetting for two kids who are trying to process their parents' separation. And sometimes I just feel like this is all a bad dream and that I'm going to wake up at some point. But no, it's real."

Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images

Throughout, at least she had her music, Shakira comparing songwriting to "going to the shrink, only cheaper."

"I think it's the best medicine," she explained, "and along with the love of my family and my kids that sustains me, music and writing music is definitely one of those tools—one of the few tools I have for survival in extreme conditions."

And once those feelings were out there...boy, were they out there.

MTV VMAs: The Most Memorable Moments of All Time

After a wildly productive period in which she heard her name called eight times at Univision's Premios Juventud awards (a perfect nine was impossible because she was nominated twice in one category), was honored at the Billboard's Latin Women in Music gala, and set 14 Guinness World Records on the strength of "BZRP Music Session #53," Shakira will become the first-ever South American recipient of the Video Vanguard Award at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards on Sept. 12.

The honor comes 22 years after she burst onto the English-language scene with 2001's Laundry Service, featuring her infectious ode to making it work no matter what, "Whenever, Wherever."

Which sounds good, and very romantic, in theory.

But in practice, Shakira and Piqué's partnership—she told 60 Minutes in 2020 that marriage "scares the s--t" out of her and she preferred the title of girlfriend or lover to wife—turned untenable at some point. And at least as far as the little bit that she's hinted at is concerned, he's the one whose behavior got him red-carded.

Christopher Polk/Billboard via Getty Images

"Everything happened at once," she told People en Español in June. "My home was falling apart. I was finding out through the press that I had been betrayed while my dad was in the ICU."  

Her father and "best friend," William Mebarak Chadid, she explained, had come to visit her while she was "consumed with sadness" over the breakup and he was injured in a fall. Happily, the 91-year-old, who also beat COVID and dealt with various other health issues, recovered.

"My dad is the biggest example of resilience, and my mother has been by his side day and night," Shakira said. "They have both been a reflection of that dream that didn't come true for me. But I hope they are role models for my kids of love, of patience in relationships, of absolute devotion and zest for life."

Pierre Suu/Getty Images

Her zest was deservedly on display this summer, shooting a video for her track "Copa Vacía" with Manuel Turizo, making the scene at Paris Fashion Week, sitting courtside at the NBA Finals and then stepping out for dinner with Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler.

The artist has said that she once totally bought into the old trope that a woman wasn't complete without a man in her life. "I also had that dream to have a family where the kids had their mom and dad under the same roof," she told Mexico's Canal Estrellas in February. "Not all of those dreams come true, but life has a way of compensating you in one way or another."

Christopher Polk/Billboard via Getty Images

Accepting her Latin Woman of the Year honor in May, Shakira touched on her own "year of seismic change." 

She explained, "I've realized we women are stronger than we think, braver than we believed, more independent than we were taught to be."

"Because," Shakira added, "what woman hasn't at some time in her life forgotten herself because she's seeking the attention and love of someone else? It happened to me, more than once."

Ultimately, she said, "There comes a time in the life of every woman where she no longer depends on someone else to love and accept herself just as she is. A time when the search for someone else is replaced by the search for oneself. A time when the desire to be perfect is replaced by the desire to be authentic, and where finding someone who is faithful is less important than being faithful to ourselves."

Sign up for E! Insider! Unlock exclusive content, custom alerts & more!