From the rooted expectations of parents born in the struggle
“You should be able to cook for your husband!”
“Eat your pap! No man likes a thin woman”
“Don’t be so opinionated! Nobody will want to marry you”
To the modern world desperately seeking to do nothing more than alter her to be less… “black”
“Gym and eat salads, thin is healthy”
” fix your hair, it needs to be long and wavy”
“Don’t be silenced, you have the right to freedom of speech”
She’s always caught between the hustle and bustle of her traditional roots – that have been vexed so deeply into her soul as her natural hair into the pores of her scalp- and the image of the modern successful woman she supposedly longs to be: with the 16inch Peruvian weave, perfectly toned legs, smaller hips and her Margaret Thatcher English.
The question she asks herself is “which 1 of these society defined me’s am I meant to accept?”
Scrolling through her Insta feed and flipping through magazines that reflect on the tv shows she missed, she sees her:
The young career driven black woman, dressed in a Gert Johan Coetzee garment, her body so slim you begin to question the necessity of African curves, (she shamelessly goes to the gym in short tights) her slick black hair perfectly glued to the edges of her scalp, eyebrows tinted to a black that flawlessly contrasts the Bobbi brown foundation on her yellowbone skin. A lipstick so nude it looks natural, and eyelashes so mesmerizing you could almost believe they are hers. And with speech so eloquent (you need to do a double take just to ensure that she too was born from the roots you know all too well) she quickly affirms her independence and dismisses any questions regarding her lack of a romantic companion.
You compare her to the only woman your family tirelessly say a good man will approve of:
A young woman, always covering her voluptuous curves in a skirt below her knees. A thick kink in her naturally curled, coarse hair. Quiet, obedient and humble in speech. Never complains, simply does what she’s told, quickly and thoroughly. Wakes up early to cook, cleans the house before anyone else gets up. Goes to work? Yes. Defintely. She should be able to sustain herself without a man. But her job may not pay too much or it will scare men away, and it is absolutely essential that she gets married or she will have failed as a black woman… everything she does from the first time she is taught how to make a bed to the last time she cleans her mothers house, is to ensure she is a good wife to him one day.
The black woman has indeed undergone an unimaginable renaissance, which she unfortunately cannot explain to her older generation,let alone her ancestors.
She is constantly trying to find herself in the modern world, whilst simultaneously attempting to be a stereotypically acceptable black wife. She does not want to have to deal with the judgment and stigma the black community will quickly attach to her if she doesn’t get married.
So when does the black woman win?
Well I am a black woman and I’m here to define myself.
We are not people pleasers at large. Surely it’s not wrong to be career driven with my naturally coarse and kinky hair. I can go to the gym in my short tights despite my thick curves. I can be respectfully opinionated. my man won’t die if I ask him to help with cleaning the house.
Surely I can be the black woman that I have defined acceptable to myself, without the fear of not getting married.
Allow me to believe that societys defined expectations of the black woman are simply because they believe in her ability to become something great.. and not because they are trying to define her on her behalf or prepare her to belong to somebody else.
We decide how we perceive ourselves which will in turn result in how the world will see us.
the modern black man has also undergone his own renaissance and if need be, can accept us for who we decide to be.