A few days ago, I received this note from a longtime reader and supporter of my work.
I have good news to share. I won a spot in People Magazine’s Natural Beauty contest. The magazine issue was released this past Friday (with Jennifer Anniston on the cover) and I’m on page 174. The issue is dated May 2, 2016. I publicly thanked Acts of Faith in Love and Life blog & Facebook page [listed under my BWE dropdown above] for letting the public know about the contest. When I let Faith know I won a spot we communicated about AA women being more proactive in participating in our media representation. WE need to take control of our personal brand. A picture of the People magazine page is attached to this email and feel free to share it.
Congratulations on your winning this spot in People Magazine! I’ve met you in person. You’re a positive, vivacious woman who oozes natural beauty, and who is also a talented salsa dancer. Thanks again for teaching us all those salsa moves at our MICOMSA retreat here at the farm! Lol You’ve invested time and energy in preserving your fitness and beauty, and countless times, you’ve shared with other black women the critical need to do the same. You’ve now been publicly rewarded. Bravo!
Taking charge of our media representation is SO critical, per your conversation with Faith. The shaping of our image requires very careful thought and long range thinking because what might make us look good today might backfire on down the road. For ex., I think that too many black women are trying to be crowned as the sexiest women on earth, these days, in order to get instant gratification, so they’re showing way too much flesh and doing outlandish things just to get attention from the lowest of men. Sex, sex, and did I say sex? These black women seem to want to be known for their female body parts. That is short term thinking, especially when it’s done for FREE in so many social media outlets. It gets attention but long term damage from that occurs to the brand because that image sticks to all black women. Once an image sticks, it will take black women, as a group, decades to get rid of it. Too many black women seem to be trying to appeal to the hind brain of men. Yes, showing lots of bulging flesh makes lots more men look at a woman, but unless he has loose screws, he doesn’t want to marry that type of woman and have her be the role model of womanhood for his daughter.
I hate to keep comparing black women to Asian women, since I know our experiences in America have been vastly different, but all groups of people can and do get ideas from each other. We all copy from each other. Other groups of women certainly don’t hesitate to copy black women’s physical attributes and certain mannerisms. We see this happening more and more every day, so we should use whatever we see others doing, that works. The hallmark of Asian women’s brand is modesty, intelligence, and understated feminine appeal. They may be sexual vampires in private, but they’re very low-keyed in public. Showing all her cards gives a woman no wiggle room. Too many black women try to copy Kim K. when they would come out much farther ahead if they studied and copied at least some of the moves of Priscilla Chan (Mark Zuckerberg’s wife).
Another thing is that too many black American women are still supporting media and individuals that poison our image, and too many other black women overlook this or deprioritize that behavior. If someone is not uplifting YOUR image or disrespecting it, and not presenting you in a positive way, they’re sinking you and your future. In a very real sense, they are killing you and you’re helping them if you’re supporting them in any way. Reciprocity means that you only do for those who do good things for you. Your survival depends on that.
I expect for others outside the group to not prioritize the upholding of black women’s image because people are always going to prioritize their own self interests, first, however if you’re inside the group, you’re supposed to uphold and support only those who make positive moves for your group. I’ll mention Nina Simone in this regard. She was one of my sheroes. Not only did she touch every nerve in my body as I listened to the lyrics of her songs, she was a very strong, relentless, powerful, positive force or warrior for black American woman’s image. She understood that: Image is perception and perception becomes reality. The way a woman is generally treated is based on the way her group handles her image, and black women should know very well by now that black women won’t get any help from the vast bulk of our male counterparts.
I’m not suggesting that any black woman become a warrior. No-No-No! Thanks to black women like Nina Simone and numerous other unsung sheroes, we don’t even have to do that. All we have to do is use our financial and vocal support shrewdly.
For ex., I’m sure that some black women are going to see the Nina Simone movie starring Zoe Saldana. (smh) I’m not mad at Zoe Saldana for playing that role. If somebody offered to pay me millions of dollars to play Marilyn Monroe, I would be jumping up right now screaming Hallelujah. But I’d bet you could count on the fingers of one hand how many white women would come to see me in that movie. But most black women, acting like dumb sheep, continue to support people who misrepresent us, replace us, and disrespect our image. Just thinking about Nina Simone and the principles of what she stood for, makes me break out in goose bumps. I could never spend a cent or even a second of my life watching any Zoe Saldana play her in a movie when there are so many much more talented black women who more closely resemble Nina Simone. The appearance of the actress is everything in this case because Nina Simone’s appearance/phenotype was her work. So, it’s not just a movie, when so many black women who look more like Nina are still discounted or completely ignored and devalued–even by other blacks–because of their looks. Absolutely no black American woman or any other group of black woman in a similar situation in the world should be caught dead watching that movie, even if it’s free to do so. When anyone or anything is killing or replacing my image, they’re killing me, so that is as serious to me as it would be if they were slipping arsenic in my drinking water.
So, honestly, if I were invisible, I would water-hose any black woman standing on any movie line to see that movie. Lol
Look at how Will Ferrell quickly backed away from playing Ronald Reagan as a victim of Alzheimer, even though he initially was interested in the role. As soon as a bit of outrage surfaced about his taking that role, he distanced himself. If black women had used the clout that our dollars represent, Zoe Saldana would have backed away from playing Nina Simone, just as fast.
So, our brand is in our hands and the way we shape it to fit us, to represent our best interests, is done with reciprocity. Remember, my credo: Reciprocity or nothing.