Summer Walker is confronting her critics.
On Sunday, the R&B singer picked up her first award for Best New Artist at the 2019 BET Soul Train Awards. A nervous Walker, who suffers from social anxiety, took the stage to accept with a short and sweet speech during the televised ceremony.
“Thank you so much. I didn’t expect this,” said the 23-year-old. “Thank you LVRN and thank you London On Da Track. I really appreciate it.”
Walker admits that she came close to skipping the entire show. Instead, she avoided the red carpet and entered the venue through a back door. “I wasn’t even gonna go today cause I was to scared, I was literally asking @lvrngram to just get me a wrist band so I could sit in the back alone in my reg deg clothes,” she said. “by the time my name was called I couldn’t get a speech out like everyone one else from being so nervous & was shaking BUT I pushed through my #socialanxiety today and I’m really glad I did ..cause the soul train experience is something any true music lover will never forget.”
She was met with backlash from social media. Some called her anxiety an act while others attacked her vulnerability. “These women have children,” Walker said of her critics. “It makes me feel soo bad cause it’s clear that if the children are developing or struggling with any type of mental disorder such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, it’ll be brushed to the side and will never receive any treatment because it’ll just be ‘an act.’”
Added Walker, “These parents are probably so ignorant that instead of reading up on symptoms they just whoop the child 🤦🏽♀️ sad, my shit started at 6 so yes kids have it to.”
Earlier in the week, she canceled the majority of her tour dates, citing her extreme anxiety. “As you know, I have been very open about my struggle with social anxiety,” she wrote. “I want to continue to be healthy and to make music for y’all, so I have decided to cut down some of the dates on the tour,” said the self-described introvert.
While performing her sold-out show at L.A.’s The Novo earlier this month, she addressed her battle with anxiety. “If anybody in here has social anxiety, I just wanna let you know that shit is real, but don’t let it stop the bag,” she said. “Don’t let it stop anything that you wanna do.”
Walker has also received criticism for not hugging fans during her meet and greets. “For those who’re upset b/c I don’t give hugs idk what to tell you…I’m an empath, and that transference of energy from that many people each day would literally KILL me,” she explained. “So I ask you please respect my space in those moments.”
Despite her personal struggles, her career continues to thrive. Her debut album Over It opened at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and set a record for the largest streaming week ever for an R&B album by a woman.