She’s an icon. She’s a legend. She’s been known for years as the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.” Given many accolades and titles over the years of her illustrious career, Mary J. Blige is accepting of many of them, except for one. The superstar recently sat down for an interview where she confessed which label she’s affectionately been given that doesn’t sit well with her.
Ever since her emergence in 1992, the “No More Drama” singer has made her mark and continued to do so with no sign of slowing. She’s been hailed for years as “Queen” due to her indelible successes in music as well as her acting. Her music has been credited as one of the main influences that shifted the R&B and Hip-Hop genres.
She’s captured and embodied the essence, beauty, and struggles of black womanhood and femininity, telling the stories of many women’s voices within her music. Her message has always been one of love and empowerment, all the while suffering through years of her own personal struggles that would often be felt when listeners encountered her music, which in turn would establish a deep connection between her and her fans.
The Yonkers native’s impact over the years has made fans embrace her, rendering her as their “Auntie.” Many began to coin Mary J. Blige as their “Auntie” as a sign of appreciation and respect. Other prominent African American women have been given this honor, like US politician Maxine Waters, the longest-serving black woman in the House, affectionally dubbed “Auntie Maxine” in recent years, to which she has graciously accepted and received.
While “Auntie Maxine” may embrace the honor, Mary seems to be singing a different tune. She recently sat down with “Hip Hollywood” to promote the new show “Book II: Ghost,” the spin-off of the popular Starz series “Power,” and had this to say about the endearing label.
“Why can’t I just be a sister?” the 49 year-old artist asks. “There are women that are like, way older than me calling me ‘Auntie.’ C’mon. Can I just be your sister? Your friend in your head? The auntie is like, C’mon… “If you’re 10 years older than me, please don’t call me ‘Auntie.’”
Some fans took to social media to express disappointment the comment.
Mary J Blige denouncing her auntie-ship is textbook 2020 behavior.— Breaker of Chains (@megan_badd) August 26, 2020
Mary J. Blige been my auntie my whole life and now she don’t want to be???— Marley's Daughter. (@_LoveMeTomorrow) August 25, 2020
Mary J Blige, the ultimate auntie doesn’t wanna be called “auntie” pic.twitter.com/6f3SksU3hx— Mary Tyler Whore ™ (@KdashDior) August 25, 2020
While others suggested the singer should accept her age saying, “She don’t wanna accept that she’s aging […] even tho she’s doin it well . It’s alright auntie Mary ! You workin it & we love u.” Another fan stated, “You can tell she is not Comfortable with getting old.”
I love Mary J. Blige soooo much. But ma’am (see couldn’t even say sis ). Let’s not act up. You’re most definitely an auntie.— Princess KMonae (@astoldbykmonae) August 26, 2020
Blige wouldn’t be the first to echo these sentiments about the term of endearment. Last year, acclaimed filmmaker Ava Duvernay who was 46 at the time, paid a visit to Van Lathan’s podcast where she shared her feelings on it. “Auntie Ava? Why? Am I that old?” she says. “Because I don’t feel that old! And it’s not a respect thing…Auntie Ava, like…Aunt Jemima?” She then took to Twitter to say she would rather be called “Queen”, “Sis”, or simply “Ava” would suffice.
For the record, I happily respond to:— Ava DuVernay (@ava) June 4, 2019
“Hello, Ms. DuVernay”
“Hello, Ava” (safest bet)
Ms. Ava is fine if you’re under 18.
Thanks for showing me respect regardless, Van. Had fun talking to you. Wishing you all good things. 🙏🏾
Oprah Winfrey also shared her discomfort with the title last year during an interview with her, O Magazine. “I cringe being called Auntie or Mama by anybody other than my nieces or godchildren,” she told the magazine. “Except if I’m in Africa, where it’s the custom for everybody to refer to anyone older as ‘Sister,’ or ‘Auntie,’ depending on the age difference. And there, no one refers to anyone older by their first name, out of respect.” When asked what she would prefer to be called by millenials, she said “Oprah has worked pretty well for me.”
Winfrey’s best friend, Gayle King, was also asked by the magazine how she felt about being called “Aunite.” “I hate being called Auntie,” she confirmed. “That’s what you say to old people or the old lady who lives in the neighborhood!” “I get that it’s a sign of respect, but no one’s calling Beyoncé ‘Auntie Beyoncé!’ The only ones who should be calling me ‘Aunt’ are my niece and nephew—and they don’t add the ie.”