If you glance in Webster’s dictionary, the term strong is defined as the capacity for exertion or endurance. When you state that someone is strong, it is often received as a proud statement or a compliment; however, over the last couple of years, African American women are choosing to redefine their strength.
When I was growing up my mom always would say that she was raising me to be a strong black woman and I didn’t realize later in my life I would loathe the term of “being a strong black woman”. As I begin to grow into my womanhood I embrace being a strong black woman and it became a badge of honor. Friends and family would be in awe of how strong I was when I went through traumatic challenges in my life. But it became a strain to carry the weight when everyone depended on me to be this superwoman. I became angry and hurt because I wasn’t asked about my well-being. I felt like people assumed I was doing well because I held on to being “a strong black woman.”
In 2018 after hitting burnout, I decided to slowly unravel the strong woman persona and release myself from the superwoman black girl syndrome. While saving everyone else, I didn’t realize I needed to save myself. Now in this new revolution of women taking back their power, making their voices heard, and standing up for their rights, we are redefining terms that have crippled our growth to become limitless.
Below are a couple of ways you can redefine the strong black woman dynamics:
Ask For Help. If you need help, reach out to someone. Needing help doesn’t mean you are weak, but it means you are brave enough to trust someone with your vulnerability.
You don’t have to be the strong one. If you are the only person in your group where everyone comes to you for strength, then find another circle. However, if you find that you like being the person everyone depends on, there may be deeper issues where seeking therapy is necessary.
It’s okay to say you don’t know. People may identify you as a strong black woman because you seem to be the expert on everyone’s problems. It is okay to tell others that you don’t have the answer and for them to seek professional advice or help for their issues.
Create a new narrative about “the strong black woman.” It is up to us to create new stories about a black women.
Representation. You are your best representative as a person so make sure you are expressing yourself the way you want others to see you. (Think of adjectives beyond strong to describe yourself).
Everyone stared at her as she wore the highest heels embodied with the reddest lips accentuating her beauty effortlessly. Her style was impeccable as she wore clothes that molded the silhouette of her curves. When she entered the room all eyes were on her. The attention she commanded came naturally. This woman was not your ideal poster child for what a feminist looked like but she didn’t care because feminism was not a look but a movement for equality.
In the past couple of decades society has created the wrong stigma on what feminism is, what a feminist should look like and how feminist are portrayed. Somehow the word “feminist” has become a dirty word misinterpreted by societal ignorance. Feminism has evolved over the years but yet the stigmata of the movement has caused many women to denounce that they are feminist instead of embrace it like a new pair of Louboutins.
Feminism in the 20th century has become more prevalent due to women deserving equal pay, the right to education in different countries, the right to say they do not want to get married or have kids for that matter. I believe a feminist is a woman who cares about empowering other women, who desires equality for women and men. These particular women are not scared to embrace their authenticity. A woman who proclaims she is a feminist is brave enough to let her voice be heard in spite of the negativity she encounters with society. Women celebrities such as Beyoncé, Patricia Arquette, Emma Watson and even First Lady Michelle Obama has helped us redefine what the word feminist really means to millennial women.
Over the years, I never really understood feminism, embrace feminism or thought I was a feminist. However, after I reviewed my life and thought all the barriers I have broken as a woman I began to realize I am true feminist naturally. I remember when I was in high school I did a paper on African women getting their vaginas circumcised and how cruel that was in certain African countries. I did not know it but even then I was making my voice heard on women issues. Feminism to me is about women empowerment, having the right to create your life on your own terms without societal validation and ultimately embracing the woman you are without feeling the need for an explanation.
I can proudly say I am a feminist, I love empowering women to know that being who you are is a gift and knowing who you are is important. A feminist is not a woman who hate men, who hate makeup or stilettos but a feminist is a woman who is liberal enough to break free from enslavement of inequality in all forms.