*photo credit: iamrichrocket.com

...and I'm not talking about Shea moisture! I speak of the various images of black women I see throughout my social media timelines on a daily basis. Black-owned businesses and branding consultants alike seem to have an ideal black woman-- I am sure you know her. She is a woman that can do both! Her hair is natural, long and curly, she is wearing the tightest business suit you've ever seen, curvy thighs, big booty, stilettos and personality glasses-- because glasses mean you are smart. (This is totally not true because I wear glasses all the time, although that has more to do with my wonky eye, but I digress!)

 

I am not this woman, and it is only through years of conditioning and training that I do not aspire to be this woman. I am ok being a bit of a mess! I am a single mother, performance poet, 9 to 5 executive assistant, etc., etc. so being a bombshell on top of it all is a commitment that I am not willing to make. I just want to be healthy and take decent selfies. However, if I allow myself to really think about it, I find myself perplexed that women of color don’t see the double standard. We need—and speak up about— representation in more diverse spaces, but we should also be aware of how we represent the black woman within our own social circles. My hair without dread locs doesn’t grow to a very long length and it’s not the kind of texture that produces luxurious curls. My hair texture is best known as the rough, comb breaking kind. My booty comes with tummy and my skin tone is not a magnificent deep dark or milky smooth light—it’s brown. Please do not give me a headline reading “Brown Skinned Women Slay, Too” or “Let’s Hear It for the Curvy Chicks” once a year. How about we mix those images in with the rest of them? Believe it or not, melanin pops underneath the skin of black women with video vixen bodies and those of us with hot Cheeto eating on the couch bodies.

 

In conclusion, this rant is just a reminder of the importance of choosing to exist in reality. As a rule, media outlets are never a good place to search for yourself for representation or validation because it those avenues are all about selling a fantasy. I take each portrayal I see posted online with a grain of salt-- and if it really starts to affect my self-esteem I simply unfollow. Personally, I tend to gain more life from images of my friends laughing, of my mother’s rough hands as she braids my daughter’s hair, my sister’s tiny feet with chipped nail polish and even when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror while washing my hands in the bathroom.

 

I have no power over the black woman portrayed in art, film or media but I have complete agency over my definition of beauty, black girl magic and everything in between. I choose to seek representation in the world all around me…

Tell me, where do you find yourself?

 

Published by Whiskey blog.whiskeyandpoetry.com