Of all the mysteries the internet has wrought upon us bloodshot, slouched doomscrollers, there is one that confounds me more than any other: Lori Harvey. Like many wealthy celebrity spawn, the 24-year-old, uhhh.... model (?) and stepdaughter of comedian and Family Feud host Steve Harvey is famous for being famous. Only, she took the leg up afforded by her surname and safety net, along with her astounding beauty, and did something far more impactful: She dated like a fucking champion. Her masterful proficiency at catching some of the most eligible dick in the game, and doing it seemingly unapologetically, is something that we can all learn from.
Over the weekend, Harvey went Instagram official with her newest conquest, People magazine's 2020 Sexiest Man Alive, Michael B. Jordan. Jordan, too, staked his romantic claim on the main feed. This came after months of paparazzi shots capturing the two de-boarding planes and on dates together as early as November. Any serial dater with an online presence knows that posting to the main grid means it's serious. You might soft-launch a new partner in an Instagram Story, or in the background in the fourth pic in a carousel, but a cute couple shot front and center on the main feed informs your most dedicated DMers that the club is closed to new members until further notice.
Harvey is a veritable dating virtuoso. Up until the announcement, Harvey had made a name for herself in owning and operating the most coveted gin joint in town, particularly among Black celebrities. On "Going Bad," Meek Mill made his crush known, rapping, "Lori Harvey on my wish list / That's the only thing I want for Christmas." Future, too, professed his love in song: "Give me glory / Give me Lori / that's victory," he raps on "Accepting My Flaws." Unlike Meek, Future actually had his shot, and she got out of that one seemingly unscathed—a feat on its own, considering Future is a hall-of-fame fuckboy with six children from six different women.
Other than Jordan and Future, and as far as the internet has been made aware, Harvey has bagged soccer player Memphis Depay, to whom she was briefly engaged; Justin Combs, son of Sean "Diddy" Combs (his parentage is important to note, and it will soon become apparent why); R&B singer Trey Songz, who has made it part of his stage performance to simulate fingerbanging an invisible woman on stage; and Sean "Diddy" Combs, aka, Justin Combs' father. (Lord knows the awkward energy that brought to the family cookouts.) There may be more, and I can only imagine who and how many have attempted to shoot their shot. What I'd give for an hour reading through her DMs and texts!
While some have taken the respectability route and slut-shamed Harvey for her romantic pursuits, others have correctly pointed out that she is simply partaking in a very common tradition in modern society: dating. This is exactly what dating is! Hanging out with someone, then someone else when that doesn't work out, and maybe that person's dad after them. That last one is a...choice, but ultimately the message is the same. You can and should be exploring your options, if you so choose. The obvious double standard here—because we know a man dating around is deemed natural, sowing his wild oats, while a woman doing the same is called a "hoe"—isn't lost on anyone.
Instead, I'd argue that Harvey's unapologetic dating makes her an aspirational figure. Especially, too, because she moves relatively privately and seemingly without concern for the optics of her romantic life—something that just fuels the mystery around her. What her hobbies are, what her type is, what food she likes—I honestly couldn't tell you. We also don't know how she actually feels about the scrutiny placed on her dating life, or what she's experienced with any of the men she has dated. But from the outside, she's an enigma, and that makes her even more magnetic to the women who are in awe of her confidence—a gift we wish we'd had at her age, and really any age.
Ask any woman who spent her 20s dating one person, and there's a high likelihood she'll say she regrets not dating more—or not having the self-assuredness to aim higher or demand better from partners. The amount of bodies you collect is one (extremely fun) thing, but it's arguably more about the growth you gain as a person. Knowing your worth and assertively seeking what you deserve, unburdened by the fear of being labeled a slut or undesirable, often comes later in life for women. And it's harder to access that mettle when you're a Black or brown woman—someone who knows what it feels like to be sexualized at a younger age and routinely reminded to shrink yourself.
While I spent my 20s briefly married, then dating as though I was told I'd win $1 million if I fucked the most idiot bassists, I still regret wasting my good tiddy years forsaking my needs for a partner's comfort, feeling bad about my body, and worried about what I was doing with my life. We don't know if Harvey is dealing with the same insecurities, but seeing her date on an elite level reminds me to carry myself with the self-possession she radiates, even though I'm far past my 20s. And watching her not waste her time, moving on to the next one with ease, well... why waste your time on anybody who's not good to you, who doesn't deserve you, or who just isn't right for you when other options are plentiful? Dating openly and with that knowledge shouldn't be a revolutionary act; it should be the standard.
Harvey's approach to dating is especially noteworthy when you contrast it with some of her family's public opinions about relationships and sex. In a resurfaced clip from her stepdad's talk show, we see Harvey's mother Marjorie giving her daughter advice as she's about to leave home for college. Marjorie imparts the importance of standing out, tells her not to date rappers or athletes (*chokes back a laugh*), and explains that she and Steve have always taught her to "carry herself like a lady," echoing the misogynistic lessons he wrote in his infamous relationship book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. "Understand you are the prize," Marjorie says.
Harvey responds in a video interview: "When it comes to dating, my mom has nothing to worry about," she says. "I got this." When the segment cuts back to Steve in the studio, he assures viewers that his daughter isn't the one who's "got this" and claims that he, in fact, is the one who handles his daughter's dating life. OK, weird. Steve and Marjorie make the tired joke that it's not that they don’t trust her; it's those darn horny boys.
Knowing what we know now—the future that this clip was foreshadowing—it's clear that Harvey made her own rules, leaving her gilded cage and immediately dating rappers, athletes, and whoever else she wanted despite her stepfather's well-documented sexist views about dating. Her parents may have wanted to mold her into a "respectable woman"—a "lady"—but the one they got was someone far more powerful: a person in control of her own life and body, who absolutely knows she's the prize. Why act like a "lady" when you can carry yourself like a Lori?