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Gabrielle Union on why women can stop chasing after balance: It's "fictitious BS that doesn't exist"

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Have you seen that perfectly chiseled couple on social media, with their big veneer smiles and perfectly cuffed jeans enjoying perfectly plated food and perfectly poured craft cocktails on a perfect summer day? Then you zoom in only to see that they look even more perfect than you first thought, with hundreds — maybe thousands — of comments that all read #goals or #RelationshipGoals? Yeah, I see those annoying people too.

"Relationship goals" is a term that should annoy us all. It means that a couple has completed everything needed to project that idea of having a perfect relationship, as if such a thing exists. And when I say everything I mean that they checked all of the appropriate Instagram boxes, from beautiful vacations and matching sneakers to perfect date nights —all perfectly documented under the most perfect lighting. And let's not forget the festive Thanksgiving and Christmas posts, complemented by a snappy Drake lyric for the caption next to whatever the couple's corny hashtag is that season.

These couples have mastered promoting the impossible loop of never-ending happiness. "Goals" people can be fun to look at online at times, but everyone in a real relationship knows that's not real. All romantic relationships are expected to have great moments, but even the most successful couples have bad moments, too. Gabrielle Union, who has been called "goals" for years, joked about this with me during our conversation on "Salon Talks" about her new book, "You Got Anything Stronger?" In her hilarious way, Union writes about the serious problem with being considered perfect.

"You Got Anything Stronger?" is the follow up to Union's 2017 New York Times bestselling essay collection, "We're Going to Need More Wine." Many know Union as a celebrated actress with dozens of titles under her belt, including "Being Mary Jane," "Bad Boys II" and "Deliver Us from Eva," but her prose, analysis and the sharp cultural critiques match the star power she has earned on screen. Union's essays will make you laugh, cry and feel OK if your relationship hasn't reached the alleged status of "goals." Union gets so real about her marriage to Dwyane Wade — down to feeling like a failure and declaring "f**k balance" when it comes to roles. "It's the bullsh*t that they shove on women, that they never ask men for," she said during our conversation. And the amazing thing is, Union also describes how she works hard on their relationship every single day.

You can watch my "Salon Talks" episode with Gabrielle Union here, or read a Q&A of our conversation below to hear more about why Union is so candid about her "ugly" fertility journey, what her stepdaughter Zaya has taught her, the challenges she faces as a Black women in Hollywood, and how becoming a mother has forever changed her.

The following conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

How have you been managing family and work life and all of these things, in this brand new era of COVID, this new thing we've going through?

We have an incredibly large village, and without the village, we couldn't do anything. I wouldn't be half the mother that I am, I wouldn't be half the friend, the wife. We rely heavily on a number of people to keep us afloat and allow us to do all of the things that we're out here doing, with our different jobs and businesses, and endorsements, and all that stuff. It's the village mentality.

Let's get into this book, "You Got Anything Stronger?" If I had a glass, I would be sitting here pouring with you right now. I truly feel like the writing is brilliant. I don't throw that word around. It's warm. It's funny. It's extremely personal. I was excited for it because after reading your first book, of just the stories and the little screws, and the yogurt, and the cranberry juice. I was like, yo, I have to start off just by asking was there any backlash from that first book, and things that you considered when walking into the journey of creating the next?

No, not backlash in the sense that I faced any sort of weird consequences in that way. It was more of like, I have to think about what stories that involve more than just me; other people's perspectives, and think about boundaries and fairness. So, I thought about that going into this book. I have to always make clear when I'm joking. I joke all the time and people are like, "Oh my gosh, she's serious. She did XYZ." And especially when I'm on a press tour, talking about certain things, I'm going to be joking. Seeing where blogs might take a chapter, or you know that there's going to be people who are just searching for a mistake, or for something for clickbait; but they're going to turn it into something that it's not. If you read the book, it's clear that that's not what it is.

Just kind of going into it, knowing that your words will be misconstrued, there will be attempts to turn people against you on some BS, but as long as you tell your........

© Salon

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