Identity & Belonging
“It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
In the mirror we see our truth. The curve in our hips. The thinness of our waists. The stride in our step. We strive to love ourselves to the maximum of our ability. However, most people do not understand how difficult it is for women to love themselves. But how can women and how can I love myself in a society that continues to degrades me?
In the documentary titled Beyond Beats & Rhymes, director Byron Hurt discusses the problems that hip hop music faces in regards to social changes in society. The director interviewed an up- and- coming artist named “J-hood”, for a section of the film named “Sisters and Bitches.” Hurt asked the artist to describe the difference between the two words that are used to describe women. He pointed to women in their bikinis on Daytona Beach and stated that they were “bitches.”
This quote raises a conflict about how women are viewed. On one hand, a woman has the right to wear what she pleases, especially since the environment mentioned above allowed her to do so, without suffering the backlash of men. But on the other hand, when viewing what they wore OFF the beach, the “invitation” became clearer. This by no means gives men the right to objectify women, but we have to realize that humans are sexual beings."’ We live in a culture in which we constantly see women objectified in interactions on television and in the media. When you turn your own lens on everyday, ordinary women, we focus on those parts, too,’ says lead author and social psychologist Sarah Gervais of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.” As human beings we rely on what we see, that's how arousal occur. However, the natural attraction that occurs between human beings has been exploited. This saturation in media and other outlets compels us to view one another as objects or representations.
On the contrary, as women we need to respect ourselves and realize that how we dress is a reflection of our self love, morals, and style. We should respect our bodies and know that some things are better left as a mystery. Everyone does not have to see what God has blessed us with. We should carry ourselves in a manner that reflects who we want to attract. In truth, we should dress for ourselves first. We need to get past what we see being represented in the media. Let us humanize ourselves and understand that every women should develop a love for themselves before loving anyone else. We can't expect someone to love us unconditionally if we don't love ourselves unconditionally.
Fierce strides were made toward the trolley stop. I walked alone, blocking everyone and everything around me, until I felt someone's eyes on me like an itch that I just could not scratch. We make eye contact. Ahead of me stands a tall, pale man whose eyes reflect the sea. The bluest of blues. He stops, stares at me and says , “Wow, your eyes are beautiful.” My eyes are beautiful. And he continued to make his way down the trolley steps.
Men who are genuinely interested in a female are attracted to natural beauty and the way they carry ourselves. People can identify if confidence radiates out of our bodies. And even though I see myself as fairly confident, when a non-African American man complimented me, I subconsciously held it to a higher standard than when an African-American man gives me the same compliment. I’d won a prize, the validation prize. Still, questions began running through my mind : does this validate my beauty any more than a compliment from a black man? Does a compliment from a non-black man make me any more beautiful? Do “they” also see beauty in me? But more importantly, do I see the beauty within myself? Finding yourself was never a straight road, and it will never be.