This Elle cover is a great, dramatic photograph, and was styled by Law Roach, who knows the storytelling power of clothes. Megan Thee Stallion is perched there like a queen, regal as hell, and wearing a piece credited in the captions as “caged trench coat” — as if to convey that even when you’re on top of the world you can still be in an emotional prison. And that’s exactly what the story is about: It’s an essay, but framed as an “as told to,” so it may be a combination of both, in which Megan lays down a lot of important truths about what’s happened to her in the last few years: being shot by a friend, being branded a liar (still, even after a guilty verdict) by some corners of the Internet, being further dragged as the case went to trial and a guilty verdict came in, being a woman people assume doesn’t have vulnerabilities, and above all, not wanting to be defined by something that another person did to her. She said she hopes this will close the book on the topic — her first and last words on the subject. And they’re well-chosen, and powerful. It’s hard to know what to excerpt. Here’s this:

“But my heart hurts for all the women around the world who are suffering in silence, especially if you’re a Black woman who doesn’t appear as if she needs help. So many times, people looked at me and thought, ‘You look strong. You’re outspoken. You’re tall. You don’t look like somebody who needs to be saved.’ They assumed that, per preconceived stigmas, ‘I didn’t fit the profile of a victim,’ and that I didn’t need support or protection. Time after time, women are bullied with backlash for speaking out against their attackers, especially when they’re accusing someone who is famous and wealthy. They’re often accused of lying or attempting to make money from their trauma. From firsthand experience, I know why a lot of women don’t come forward. Any support and empathy that I received was drowned out by overwhelming doubt and criticism from so many others.”

There’s a postscript to the piece that says her attacker is trying to get the verdict thrown out, and/or will appeal, and… I just really hope Megan is able to put this behind her.

[Photo: Adrienne Raquel; story by Megan Thee Stallion as told to Evette Dionne; Elle’s May 2023 issue will be on newsstands May 2]