I’m personally convinced that quiet as it’s kept, the baddest of the baddies must hail from Minneapolis. After all, it’s the birthplace of the Purple One, Yara Shahidi, history-making state Rep. Ilhan Omar, yours truly and the face of Fenty Beauty—no, the other one—model Slick Woods (I mean, that moniker alone sounds like the title of an unreleased Prince baddie anthem, doesn’t it?).
But before she was “Slick,” she was born Simone Thompson to a mother who would become incarcerated when Simone was 6, and is hopefully due for release next year. It’s an experience that gave her now-21-year-daughter a survivor’s instinct (Woods, in her own words, “overcame addiction” to drugs) and a fierce sense of perspective: “Now, when I get unhappy about didn’t-go-my-way-type shit, my old self is like, ‘Bitch, don’t feel bad about that,’” she tells Glamour magazine.
Woods is profiled in the magazine’s May Money issue, which is on newsstands now. And while she did dish on money (“I didn’t think that I was ever going to be able to make money without conforming,” she admits), she also gave Glamour a taste of what she calls “the algorithm of life” when she said:
I like to have more money in the bank than followers; I think that sums it up. ... If you have less money in the bank than you have followers, you should just stop until you figure shit out, because you haven’t figured out the algorithm of life.
(A glance at Woods’ Instagram page currently shows 509,000 followers.)
But mo’ money doesn’t always equate to automatic stability; Woods reminds us that “when you’ve walked around with $0 to your name, it’s kind of uncomfortable to have everything. I feel more comfortable when I’m struggling, because that’s what I’m used to.” And while definitely enjoying her rising success, Woods got refreshingly real about how the fashion industry glamorizes marginalization and struggle, saying, “They like to take the hood, crunch it up, throw some glitter on that shit and walk it down the runway.”
She also spoke candidly about defying expectations, especially when it comes to gender and sexuality: “I’m very boyish and I have very manly ways, but I like to throw people off with a look,” she told Glamour. “Like, ‘Damn. Is she wearing lipstick while staring at that girl’s ass?’ Yeah, that’s me.”
Woods is nothing if not steadfastly herself; in fact, her natural gender-bending style is so fly, she wore much of her own clothing and jewelry for her Glamour shoot (including that sick orange-foiled coat above). But it was working with Rihanna—who handpicked the model for her Fenty Beauty campaign—that really gave Woods the confidence to be herself. “Rihanna gave me that backbone. She made me feel like there’s other real people up in this industry still,” she said.
With her luscious, gap-toothed pout, burnished bald fade, tattoos, tomboyish style and cultural cachet, Woods is well aware that she is a brand currently in demand, part of fashion’s latest fascination with “authenticity.” But perhaps what truly makes Woods so authentic is her willingness to be messy, as long as she’s being herself. It’s one of the reasons she’s so transparent about having post-traumatic stress disorder, but also belies an unapologetic passion and integrity, as revealed to Glamour:
For black women, we get this label of being ‘angry black women’ a lot, [so] I wanted to shed a little more light on it. I’m aggressive and I might be a little violent. I might cry. I might yell at you, because I care. I care a lot, and I want to get my point across. And I think that’s what I have brought to the fashion industry: a beautiful struggle.