Have you noticed the shifting narrative of the ideal black woman’s attitude from ‘strong black woman’ to ‘unbothered black woman?’
At first blush, this attitude shift seems productive, right? No more mulling and taking on all the burdens of the world, your family and the community. The “always bothered” strong black woman puts up her feet, eats her Cheetos and licks off the cheese powder.
It sounds like a productive tact in the right direction at first…right? It implies that instead of being so bothered by anything, we become un-bothered about everything. The problem with both mindsets is that we are still depriving ourselves of the full range of emotions that we as women are entitled to.
If you are “strong” then you can’t show weakness by displaying any feelings that might contradict that label. If you are “unbothered,” are also are restrained from showing any feeling, even when you have them. You have to pretend to be “unbothered” in the same way your mother and grandmother had to pretend to be so strong.
Ladies, this ain’t a come up.
We just switched one straight jacket for another one; just in a different size and color. But no matter how many bows and flowers you put on it, a straight jacket will always be a straight jacket.
Until we as black women allow some kindness and compassion for one another when we display feminine feelings, we will keep forcing each other to push down emotions so we can look the part, all the while we are crying inside and eating our feelings.
It is okay to be BOTHERED. Acknowledging your feelings–no matter how uncomfortable–is one of the best gifts we can give to ourselves. It’s okay to feel hurt if someone wounds you. It is okay to cry when you’re sad. It okay to scream into the pillow out of frustration. It’s okay to tell the people around you who care about you that you don’t always have it together. If you don’t have people around you who can be a soft place for you to fall, then it’s time to find some new people.
If black women want others to recognize our humanity, we will have to first recognize it in ourselves.
Written by: Christelyn Karazin