Behaviors for black women to drop and adopt

Written by Nicole J.

I wanted to ask our readers a simple question: what are some things black women can do to improve the collective’s image?

Why do I ask?

Well, for a few reasons. We like to say that black women are not a monolith, and though that is true, as my middle school teacher said when the whole class got slapped with detention, the good must suffer for the bad. We jump on the chance to celebrate wins like Halle Bailey getting cast as Ariel in the Little Mermaid remake, or when black women are crowned in beauty pageants rocking their natural hair, but then are also quick to make the distinction that we’re not like those other black women when they get recorded giving cucumber blowjobs or being wearing house clothes to pick up their children.

If we get to claim the good promotion on a collective level, are we not then pinned with the bad promotion too? There are less of us (in America), therefore everything we do, be it positive or negative, is under a magnifying glass. That’s why I want us all, swirler or black love proponent alike, even if we vehemently disagree on everything else, to be our best selves.

And before people come in and say “well who are you looking good for?” or “why should black women stop doing anything?”, let me answer those two questions quickly. We are looking good for ourselves, because if we collectively make better choices, then our lives will be better. The stereotypes that black women are plagued with will no longer have merit, and the black girls of tomorrow will have more positive imagery to be inspired by, ending the cycles of bad behavior young girls are hit with the moment she draws her first breath. As for the second question; what has wearing bonnets in public, having babies out of wedlock, and having strokes from stress and obesity gotten us so far? Since what we are doing now isn’t doing the collective any favors, perhaps it is time for a different tack. So what do I wish all black women would leave behind? Here’s my nonexhaustive list:

Drop: the Rapunzel weave, false eyelashes that can double as flotation devices, drag makeup (outside of stagecraft) and odd-colored contacts.

I have nothing against fake hair or lashes, but I was always of the mind that these accouterments were meant to enhance, and at its best, should be complementary to the features naturally possessed. Unfortunately I see far too many women with unflattering, glued on lacefronts, peeling like a bad sunburn, with makeup straight out of RuPaul’s Drag Race…but for everyday life. Maybe I’m a conspiracy theorist, but I think the rise in women with full on drag-esque makeup is to normalize the cake face beat on biological women in daily life, which aids in the ability of transwomen to “pass”. Is that a reach? Let me know in the comments. Crazy colored contacts just look weird and unflattering to me, so I dropped that in here too.
Importance level: low

Adopt: Going natural

Though I don’t think black women’s hair is that big a deal in the grand scheme of the issues we face, I do wish more women wore their natural hair, or natural type 4 textures that mimicked it. I am yet to see a black woman look better with tailbone-length kanekanonsense over a gravity-defying afro. Imagine the statement it would make if black models like Duckie Thot, or all the black Victoria’s Secret angels, or black Miss [Insert Country Here] candidates were featured on the global stage wearing TWAs or mini twists or a braid out or locs? Sure, we face hair discrimination but if more black women in the public eye rocked their own hair, “normalizing” the way our hair grows out of our heads, then the discrimination would decrease over time.
Importance level: medium

Drop: Low-budget bums

If a person, male or female, adds no value to the life of black women, I wish that they would let them go. Whether it is an ain’t shit baby daddy or even a parent who makes you hate them more with every interaction, be like Elsa and let them GO. Not because you share DNA with a person entitles them to an all access pass to upending your life. Being extremely judicious with where you spend your emotional and physical labor will serve black women more than constantly accepting people who haven’t changed their ways back into their lives and expecting a different result.
Importance level: high

Adopt: address undiagnosed/untreated mental health problems

Quiet as it’s kept, many black women are struggling with mental health issues without even knowing it. I believe depression and anxiety tops the list, followed by unhealthy, pathological relationships with food. There is no shame in getting therapy to address some problems you may not have even known you had. Removing the stigma around therapy, both for black women and black men, is a work in progress, but hopefully the trend catches on and we fix some deep-seated issues we’ve been burying with ice cream and hope, when some Prozac and cognitive behavioral therapy may have done a better job.
Importance level: high

Adopt: Taking physical health more seriously too

I get that faith is a very important part of black women’s lives, but praying your diabetes away will not replace the insulin that your pancreas stopped producing. Working up until your baby is crowning is not a healthy way to start motherhood. Even though you may not feel the effects of high blood pressure, you can best believe that your arteries, especially the ones in your heart, kidneys, and brain, are feeling the ill effects.
Importance level: high

Drop: Having more children than can be adequately cared for

We all know by now not to have children out of wedlock. However, not because you’re married gives you a free pass to push out a sports team worth of kids, either. Unless you have a time machine that brings you back to the olden days where birth control was absent, old age meant reaching 40, and you needed help on the farm, I see no reason to have half a dozen children in 2019 and beyond. Birth control is your friend, married AND single!
Importance level: high

Adopt: Losing the weight

Yes, yes, here I go “fat shaming” again. Not because the truth is unpleasant means it is any less true. Too many black women are tipping the scales at unhealthy weights and it isn’t good. We have gone far past skinny-fat, thick, or curvy, and have hit obese. Losing weight is hard, and since I would literally rather hug a cactus than give up bread and cheese, I do what I need to so that my weight is proportionate with my height. If most of us went down a few dress sizes, and developed a better relationship with food, it could go a long way for the collective of black women.
Importance level: high

I think that if black women adopted these practices en masse, whether she was a Nothing-But-A-Black-Man black woman, or a swirler, it would improve the collective’s image on a national and international scale. Self improvement doesn’t hinge on the men you seek for relationship, rather, the relationship you have with yourself. What behaviors would you like black women to give up, or start doing? Let’s hear it in the comments below.

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