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Interview BuzzFeed.News

Buzzfeed.News Interview July 18, 2018
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Part 6

The differences between Stefani and Sheltons genres, personalities, and images were treated as part of the fun: If youre concerned about Stefanis ability to fit in with Sheltons small-town life, fear not. Spotted around town with Shelton shopping at local store Sooner Foods and indulging in sweet treats at Dairy Queen, Stefani is learning to rough it in Oklahoma, one source told People. Marie Claire emphasized that any outward differences only masked what they really had in common traditional values: Though Stefani has always been an edgy, outspoken performer, she also has a distinctly good-girl, almost Southern side to her. (She still goes to church with her family on Sundays in Los Angeles, then spends the afternoon getting her hair and nails done. Even her accent has a slight country twang to it.)

Can you be sexy and a mom? Can you be cool and into God? Can you be happy and divorced?

At the same time, Stefani began discussing her rediscovered relationship with religion: I have to make music out of this, she told the New York Times, referring to her breakup. Thats what God wants for me. In Time, she recounted how executives didnt want her to channel her personal life into the music feedback she rejected: Wow, you dont understand, Im channeling God, this is saving my life. She told Marie Claire that everyone asked her about her physical exercise, but it was her spiritual exercise that brought her out of the darkness: Some people like to meditate, do yoga, or just take quiet time, but for me instead of how you talk to yourself, you pray. You surrender and ask for guidance. Its not all about you.

It was, as Stefani put it, an awakening and, as she told People, the happiest Ive ever been. She and Shelton released a duet, Go Ahead and Break My Heart, which they debuted on The Voice a week before the release of Sheltons 2016 album. The song hit No.1 on the country charts, a fact that both thrilled and amused Stefani. The divorce, and the romance with Shelton that followed, rekindled the contradictions that had been smoothed out of Stefanis image over the previous decade: Now, she was the edgy cool mom with the nice country guy. But instead of trying to deny the apparent mismatch, both Stefani and Shelton embraced it. As Shelton explained, I see people all the time going, I just dont get it, I dont understand the Gwen and Blake thing, its got to be fake. That doesnt upset me, because its a hard thing to wrap your head around. She and I, on paper we couldnt be more different, but in life nothings ever worked better for me.

What goes unsaid is something Ive heard from many whove endured divorce: To make sense on paper doesnt necessarily mean a healthy relationship. Early loves arent always attuned to emotional health. Its the loves that follow the Charlotte and Harry from Sex and the City, the Gwen and Blake the sort that surprise even yourself, that often produce deeper forms of safety and happiness. Theyre the equivalent of Americas prom king and queen, Harpers Bazaar explained. Youd have to have a heart made of coal not to root for them. And tabloids have reported on their every move, reinforcing the idea of their deep, true love: Shelton wrote songs with her. She showed up onstage in a cowgirl skirt at the opening of his Nashville bar, Ole Red. He took her kids Jet Skiing; she wore camo with full makeup on at his Oklahoma ranch.

This time around, Stefani wasnt necessarily appealing to young girls trying to figure out their own configuration of power and passivity as they grew up, but to the women who, post-children, post-marriage, post-divorce, mid-career, were trying to re-sort-out the same life experiences. Can you be sexy and a mom? Can you be cool and into God? Can you be happy and divorced? Stefanis answer, broadcast in Instagram Stories and interviews, was clear: Of course you can. It just might look different than what you had planned at age 16.

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