Happy March! Happy Women’s History Month! Yay! I am super excited, clearly. I don’t wish to be any other being other than a woman; and this is how I truly feel at least three weeks out of the month. The rest of the time I wish I was a very graceful, unbothered giraffe.
As I reflect on how inspired I am by so many women there are a few personal stories that really resonate with me, that of my mother, Serena Williams, Fran Drescher, Lupita Nyong’o, Lucy Lawless, Merlene Ottey, and Toni Morrison…just to name a few.
These are women who have not let conventional beauty standards, gender stereotypes and ageism define them. They defy expectations, are incredibly brilliant, shape spaces for themselves and others, persevere, remain incredibly humble and use their influence for GOOD.
I’m not ashamed to say that there have been a few times when I’ve hit a wall and I’ve actually said to myself, ‘what would Serena do?’ and I push, because she would push.
As a follow up to my last post I wanted to continue the conversation on insecurities and talk about the reasons why I was insecure. It’s not enough for me to just recognize that I had some self-esteem issues, I also wanted to understand where those issues stemmed from.
I realized over time that it was a combination of what I deemed ‘internal’ and ‘external’ factors. The internal factors I consider to be the insecurities perpetuated by myself and the external arise from outside factors.
Now long before social media ruined our concept of reality there was television. Remember that? That thing we used to watch? Yeah, good times. Television, and media in general, is what I can now point to as one of the biggest external factors for me. I didn’t get really critical of media until I was in my late 20’s; and now I understand why people fight so much for diverse and inclusive representation.
It is very important, and this cannot be understated, for the young girls like little Hannah to have seen Venus and Serena on television in hair beads.
I am perturbed that “mainstream” beauty “standards” have not evolved much for the generation to come after me. I feel like we’ve moved past needing to be “accepted” but we need that representation for the girls who don’t know that yet.
I know most of what we see is entertainment and it helps some of us to engage in some type of escapism, but the older I get the more I hate seeing people on T.V. wake up, French kiss and have sex at 7 a.m. in the morning like morning breath, erectile dysfunction, and 6 a.m. shifts aren’t a thing for some people. Its too prevalent…where’s the flip side of this? Everyone does not wake up like this every day. I mean seriously.
Again, its entertainment. But when did we incorporate this rubbish into our actual lives. We’re the ones now performing perfection and calling it reality or rather calling it “my Instagram feed”.
Kudos to whoever is out there truly living that “$8 coffee a day before work when I’m not eating fresh fruit from my floating breakfast tray on vacation in Bali” life. Let me be the first to say I AM NOT KNOCKING THE FLEX (I mean I am but…) eat your fresh fruit sis—I’ll take the picture for you to post. But fam, who is this for? We travel because it makes us happy and we get to see the world…but who exactly is the flex for?
Yesterday I was watching an awesome Youtuber, As Told By Kenya, talk about her experience with an MLM. My biggest take away from her video was that she highlighted a major recruiting tactic used on us by these scam ass companies. They tell us we can have the Instagram life; work from anywhere in the world; kiss before brushing our teeth; never get our hands dirty…and we fall for it. We do. Let’s be honest. And as she noted, no one tells the brutal truth. That only the top tier of the top tier really rakes it in. Only the boss’ boss’ boss gets to work from anywhere in the world.
No one talks about their twelve hour a day job; how they were denied that PTO for Bali but went any way; how utterly tiring the real hustle is behind the filter.
One of the most genuine moments I remember watching from Netflix’s Love is Blind was seeing Damian tell GG that he has taken too much time off from work and may not have a job when he gets back. I felt that in the pit of my stomach. As the president and treasurer of the poor people club that moment really resonated with me.
By all means people don’t have to show us the nitty gritty. And if you have indeed somehow found a way to succeed without working hard or taking risks, you’re not obligated to reveal that to anyone; that’s your business. But I think we know the difference between sharing moments in your life and flexing and the flexing is ruining the kids.
The flexing affected me and it took me a long time to grow up and accept that adults like to perform life even more than they like to just live it. No one expects you to disclose your one-night stands; but you can be your authentic self and still keep your privacy and dignity. You can be who you are and still be wholly entertaining and relatable. Show the girls that its possible.
I can’t believe how shallow we make life seem by dressing it up with scarf burets, and pearl clips, when it’s really a complex pool of joy, grief, pain, regret, resentment, disappointment, inconsistencies, failure, success, shame, gratitude, love…all the things. Life is very colorful. I don’t know why we feel we must condense it or hide the flaws.
I know a little about flexing—I’m from the original flex capital of the world: Kingston, Jamaica. No one, and I mean no one, can flex like a Jamaican. Jamaicans create and retire trends faster than you can blink; and in a culture like that the odd man stands out clear as day.
I was an odd Jamaican because my parents didn’t allow me to flex and fake it the way my friends could. But that’s kept me grounded today so I suppose you can say I’m (reluctantly) thankful. But there was a time I wanted to bleach my skin to combat colorism; dress outrageous to prove I wasn’t just a little Christian girl; stay out till 6 a.m. like a rebel; wear all the remy hair money could buy because my nappy hair was the “worst” kind…it goes on and on.
I wanted to do it all to embody what I saw the women on T.V. do, to be accepted by my peers, and to feel included all while unconsciously internalizing misogynistic and racist stereotypes about black women. It’s very difficult to walk your way out of the way you were socialized.
Society failed me and for a long time as an adult I failed myself. I bought into the need for acceptance: there was a standard and I needed to meet it. And seeing as that LITERALLY ISN’T POSSIBLE, our loophole is to at least pretend like we meet the standard.
I had to recognize that standard was based on a set of patriarchal, racist, capitalist criteria and I didn’t need to buy into it. Furthermore, when you realize that its not possible for any of us to meet this standard (because it isn’t real) its like you can finally see the illusion from the outside. I can write a whole blog post on what the illusion is and why its vital that we buy into it..but I don’t want to get too philosophical. Just watch The Matrix.
My point is…there is no version of yourself that’s better than the real you. There is no life that’s meant to be lived except your life.
I hope you all enjoyed this post; I’m sending you lots of internet love and I appreciate everyone who reads.
Let’s drop some names of the many women who inspire us below! What would we do without them ❤