How should a woman act?
It’s a question that’s been asked of, and because of, P!nk for as long as she can remember. Should she be frothy and flirty, like her pop-star peers of the early aughts? Strong, like the Williams sisters who inspire her? Irreverent, like Billie Eilish, who inspires her 11-year-old daughter? Should she make her own wine? Do 75 pushups in one take? Fling herself in a harness over a stadium of 70,000 people?
The answer, I don’t need to tell you, is that she should be however she wants to be, and that was P!nk’s response long before it was cool.
Twenty-three years into a career that’s produced nine albums, 15 top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, and three Grammy awards, P!nk (born Alecia Moore) has approached pop stardom with a brazen, don’t-test-me energy that’s surprising, in a way, because at her essence, she describes herself as “goofy,” “cuddly,” and a person who often acts out of guilt.
It is at odds with the “crazy, snarling, man-eating, righteous person” she thinks some men have her pegged as—particularly during the less-forgiving era in which she became famous. “I was the perfect person to take all of that flak,” she says of the build-them-up-to-tear-them-down culture of the early 2000s. “I have very thick skin. I do what I want. I can handle criticism; it doesn’t move my needle. It hurts my feelings, I guess—or it used to. But it doesn’t change my actions.”
P!nk is in a car being driven from a photo shoot in Los Angeles to her home north of Santa Barbara, where she moved back from L.A. eight years ago after a preschool application asked her to describe her daughter Willow’s strengths and weaknesses and she wrote, “She’s 3.”
She was chided by the admissions officer, decided to leave the city, and placed Willow in a school that was “outdoorsy and muddy.” The country has been good for her family: Willow, now 11; Jameson, who is 6; and her husband, former motocross racer Carey Hart. She considers the ocean and the woods healing. She knows not everyone gets the option to leave a place that isn’t working for them, and she feels lucky.
“In my career, I’m around so many people with so much energy directed at me,” she says, “and I also make noise for a living. So it’s important for my mental health to unplug and be in nature.” It was that stillness that laid the groundwork for her new album, Trustfall, released this month.
“I had time, because of a worldwide pandemic, so I went really, really slowly,” she says of the three years she spent making the album—a process she typically does in half the time. “I was able to take more chances. COVID slowed down life in a ‘what matters’ kind of way for me. Now all I want is to put things in the world that are meaningful and see my kids grow up.”
Trustfall taps into both the deep pain of feeling as if the world is falling apart and the “f-ck it—might as well have fun” attitude that’s useful when the world is falling apart. “These two opposition forces somehow meet and balance each other out,” says P!nk, of electric and synthy tracks that live alongside ballads. “When I Get There,” for example—a love letter to someone who has passed, written by David Hodges and Amy Wadge—left this writer weeping into her keyboard.
“I’m sorry, it’s a hard first listen,” P!nk says. “I was the same when I first heard that song.” Her voice gets quieter. “Um, I lost my dad in August of 2021. He had cancer for eight years. When that song was sent to me, I was very numb. I don’t grieve in a normal way, like how I see other people grieve. They have such instant access to their grief, it seems. I just kind of go numb. It takes me a really long time to unpack that suitcase, and that song was part of the unpacking. I heard it, and I thought, That’s my song.”
The past few years have been marked by loss—her father, and with him, a complicated relationship (“My work now is to remember all of the good things because I know sometimes I have a tendency to remember the bad shit. I want to try to hold on to the good; there was a lot of good”), fractious politics, friends who lost parents to COVID, and “just all of this stuff.”
“I kind of feel like we were walking around with this low-level trauma that some of us were aware of and some of us weren’t,” she says. One of the hardest losses was her family’s nanny, Trish, to cancer. “She was one of the loves of our life,” says P!nk. She thought about how to facilitate her kids’ closure around the relationship, which was helped by the fact that Trish told them she would be their angel. “And so my youngest…” P!nk pauses. “Talking about this makes me cry. Jameson will walk around the kitchen and go, ‘Hey, Grandpa, hey, Trish.’” On a hike in the middle of a hailstorm, P!nk could hear Jameson talking to his angel: “Trish, I know you’re up there; you’ve got to make the wind stop!”
While the process of creating the album was sometimes heavy, the tour on which P!nk embarks this summer is a Technicolor spectacle. “It’s a festival and a lovefest,” she says of the show, called Summer Carnival, which visits stadiums throughout North America and Europe. “I’m kind of like a circus act.”
P!nk has become known for her aerial performances and acrobatics—ballet suspended in the air on silks, flips and spins and somersaults in a harness while flying through a stadium. “It’s exhilarating,” P!nk says. “Every performance I get to do new things, so I’m always trying to top it. And it’s going to start getting really hard to do that because I’ve done the craziest stuff. But we’re always on the lookout for new cool things that you might not die from.”
“What’s it like up there?” I ask her, of flying over everyone at 40 feet per second, and P!nk responds with the split brain of a working parent. “I start at the end of the stage, and I’m thinking, When did Willow last have her cold medicine? And I think, I might be sad. Then I get thrown onto an apparatus and I’m like, ‘AHHH!!! I’M NOT SAD ANYMORE!!!’ It’s awesome.”
To perform her highly physical show hundreds of times, P!nk is rigorous about keeping her body strong—particularly her core. She taught herself to sing and soar at the same time by hanging upside down and belting out songs while balls were thrown at her stomach. On tour, she works out three times a day—once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and “two hours of pure, psychotic cardio at night” onstage. The workouts invigorate her. “I have so much energy.”
Back in Southern California on her farm, P!nk works out every day—a diligence she credits to growing up in a military family and competing in gymnastics. “I like being strong,” she says. “I identify with my core, my intuition, and my strength. I have wide, big feet, and I joke, ‘The better to kick you with.’ I’m short, close to the ground, fast, and agile.” P!nk has trained with Jeanette Jenkins since Willow’s birth, and throughout the week, the pop star alternates among cardio HIIT, strength training with bodyweight and dumbbells, yoga, Pilates, cardio kickboxing, cardio sculpting with medium and light weights, and core-specific routines.
These workouts—which she typically does through Jenkins’s online portal—are often tailored to an upcoming performance. For the 2017 American Music Awards, for example, where she danced and sang horizontally on the side of a building, Jenkins focused on side and wall planks.
When she’s gearing up for a silks performance where she might be doing splits, Jenkins integrates more yoga and Pilates, as well as reps that push and pull bodyweight. The trainer puts emphasis on strength workouts that ensure P!nk’s joints are strong, so she doesn’t get injured.
Sometimes P!nk does Peloton, where “Cody Rigsby tells me to get my life together, and I listen.” She loves her strength; she’s the strongest she’s ever been. “I could pick up a car if I needed to,” she says.
Last year, she gave her body a gift. She was coming off hip and double disc replacement surgery in her back. She’d eaten a lot of sourdough during the pandemic, and her joints responded poorly to the weight gain.
“I was probably a bit depressed from all of the loss,” she says, “and I couldn’t lose weight to save my life. I would work out three hours a day, eat clean, and my metabolism was a dud—I couldn’t get anything started. And I was like, ‘I’m exhausted, I’m sad, I haven’t been away from my family for three years—not even overnight. And I just need a minute.’”
P!nk signed up for a two-week program at SHA Wellness Clinic in Alicante, Spain, where she adhered to the Kushi diet—an anti-inflammatory plan rich in vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Before every meal, she drank apple cider vinegar mixed with water, and she refrained from drinking while eating. The thinking, according to the regimen, is that the body absorbs nutrients more effectively and feels sated if liquid doesn’t interfere.
“It was the longest I’ve ever been away from my kids, and the biggest gift I’ve ever given myself,” she says. “I did it for me, which in turn would be for them.”
P!nk lost weight during the program and began to get back to feeling like herself. That process continued at home, where she adhered to many of the Kushi principles, including eating miso soup for breakfast. (She also returned to eating string cheese and Pirate’s Booty—along with the fish, salads, and scrambled eggs with spinach that are staples in her diet.) The shift she felt after her time at SHA was due to more than nutrition. “I got rest. I wasn’t getting rest before. I slept in a bed by myself for the first time in 11 years. I had time to meditate and cry and journal.”
Famous for decades, with a reputation for keeping it real, P!nk did not slip in and out of the spa. The subject matter she touches on in her music—beginning with 2002’s “Family Portrait” (“Can we work it out? / Can we be a family?”)—resonates so deeply with people that they approach her for advice. When she was younger, she didn’t know what to say; now, she leans in. “People come to me for family therapy,” she says, while recounting a story of a father at SHA who asked her to talk to his daughter who seemed lost. She was happy to oblige. “It was nice until he started waiting outside of my room, insisting that I sit down with his wife. I was like, ‘Bro: I’m here to heal, this is not Nine Perfect Strangers.’”
Maybe that familiarity is the cost of having a long career in an industry in which sticking around for decades is unusual. “I guess I don’t see limits,” P!nk says, when I ask how she’ll keep challenging herself. “I don’t see the end of the road as the end of the road. I just see it as a place to start building. And I bite off more than I can chew, and I…” she laughs, “ferociously attack life. I feel like when the going gets tough, that’s when you dig deeper and double down. And I’m constantly saying, ‘What will I do with this one precious life?’ I’m going to do too much. I’m gonna slide in sideways until the end, going, ‘HOLY SHIT, DID YOU SEE THAT!?’”
Photographed by Andrew Macpherson. Styled by Kristen Saladino. Hair: Pamela Neal for Exclusive Artists. Makeup: Kathy Jeung at Forward Artists using Armani Beauty & Element Eight. Manicure: Jolene Brodeur at The Wall Group.
Molly Creeden is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.
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