All Articles Tagged "growing up"
By Dara Tafakari
The other night, I watched my daughter be free. She splashed in the water like a little duckling, feet kicking blithely. Before I could stop her, she dunked the back of her plaited head into her bubble bath and grinned up at me. I groaned. She was completely unbothered that her hair was now wet. Then I smiled back at her, because she is a little Black girl who is completely unbothered that her hair is wet.
And when she runs through the house giggling without a stitch of clothing on, I remind myself that she will not always be this unfettered. So I let her…for a moment. (Potty training is The Struggle, for real.)
At some point in our childhoods we leave behind that impulse to be naked to the world. Maybe we leave it crumpled on the floor in the bathroom one night and forget to pick it back up. The self that emerges is tremulous against the cold stares of society. Is my skin too dark? Am I good enough? Can anybody love me as I am? When I look at the woman I am now and the little girl I carried for 10 months, I hope she never knows shame like I have.
Shame disempowers rather than strengthens.
But I know she will. It is a rite of passage of sorts, especially for girls who will become women, to begin to fold yourself into unobtrusive flatness. We spend so much of our childhood unlearning the freedom that clothed us when we first arrived here. Then we spend our adulthood trying to get it back.
Before my exuberant Bean starts to diminish her own light to match the dim watts she sees, I desperately want her to inherit these lessons. I wish for her to wear them like armor against the capriciousness of the world that awaits her.
Always congratulate yourself on your accomplishments. Toddlers know no humility and it is refreshing. Whenever Bean achieves something–and I mean anything, be it small or monumental–she is immensely proud of herself. “I DID IT!” she shrieks. We applaud, we shower her with “yaaaaaaays” and “yaaaaaaassss,” we feed her desire to feel good about her capability. Before she is surrounded by a classroom where standing out in achievement means Difference and derision, I want her to always take pride in her abilities.Get your hair wet, baby girl. And I don’t mean that in the chastising sense where people fix their mouths to say Black girls and women don’t exercise. I mean that I want her to know the sheer joy of snorkeling in the ocean, curls plastered to her cheeks when she whips her head back to the sky. That feeling where she derives more fun from play than perfection? That.
Enjoy your culture. Let the beat drop on her favorite Yo Gabba Gabba tune, and Bean lets out a timely, “AYYYYYYYYE!” She doesn’t know that’s a cultural marker. She just knows that when you feel the beat, you make it known. She will dance to anything with a djembe or an 808 or a break beat or a foot stomp. Africa lives in her steps.
Your womanhood is softness and it is strength. Nakedness is the one thing we cannot escape about ourselves, yet so many of us hate our naked bodies. This shame. Who taught us this relentless apology for curves and pubic hair and stretch marks and the audacity of our breasts to obey gravity as we age? I cannot even dislodge the word vagina from my mouth without blushing. This is no way to be a woman, to have parts unspeakable–I was not crafted to be malediction in the mouths of men. I pray that my daughter learns herself deeply, loves herself thoroughly, and revels in the parts that make her a woman.
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For more from wife, mama and word ninja Dara Tafakari, check out trulytafakari.com where you can find Dara’s writing on the crazy collisions of life, race, popular culture, and the occasional nerd activity–with an offbeat dose of humor and clarity.
Every woman has these moments in her life that either make her realize she’s totally gained her confidence, she’s lost all sense of shame (in a great, great way) or she just doesn’t put up with BS anymore. Here are 15 funny and true moments of becoming a woman.
Do you remember these hang out spots from back in the day? Whether you’re from the east coast, west coast, or third coast, these are the places where you really grew up.
Believe it or not, people aren’t as impressed as you might think they are that you’re still wearing the same jeans that you wore in high school. Same size…perhaps. Same jeans? Certainly not. Even the same style of jeans isn’t necessarily impressive. Baggy and loose-fitting; boundless bell bottoms; low-rise hip huggers–they’re all styles that we reminisce about, but aren’t styles that we need to revisit. That said, some of my favorite clothes have been with me since George Bush was in office…and don’t even ask which one.
Mass media demands eternal youth, particularly from women. The obsession to wind back the hands of time has launched countless beauty care campaigns, employed a cumbersome amount of plastic surgeons, and encouraged the development of incalculable weight loss products and regimens. Worse yet, the desire to be perpetually young has caused an unwavering immaturity in some. It has convinced many women that they should dress like their 15-year-old little sisters, and it has prompted men to wear ill-fitting jogging pants and gym shorts on the daily.
Dressing like an adult is a right…nay, an obligation. That doesn’t mean that you have to retire all of your young adult gear, but Rainbow store-grade crop tops went out with Yung Joc and his motorcycle dance from the “It’s Going Down” video.
Perhaps you’re 40 and you dress like you’re Rihanna, or you’re 25 and you’re dressed like Hannah Montana. The issue at hand isn’t that you can’t dress as young as you feel, but that you need to represent yourself in a way that earns you respect from not only your peers, but from people younger than you. You shouldn’t be surprised that you’re the main attraction when you saunter past the local high school if you’re still wearing glitter butterfly clips, bandanas, and slogan T-shirts that read, “My haters are my biggest fans” and “YOLO.”
Again, none of this suggests that you’re resigned to wearing sweater vests, button-ups, knee-length skirts and penny loafers. This simply means that you need to wear clothes that fit your lifestyle and fit you, even if that means admitting that you’re a size or two larger than the stuff you put on when you leave the house. It also means replacing your shoes when the soles have worn out before they’re just frames around your foot. Learn to hone a mature personal style that embodies your personality and a sense of comfort, and is well-assembled. Simple dresses with fun prints go a long way; well-fitting plain shirts can be sexy; jackets that gently hit the hip but fit around the waist and/or bust are everything; and, great sandals and boots can ignite any outfit. Keep the tights for wearing around the house, store the fringe tops and burn anything that makes you look half your age–and not in a good way.
You can’t help but smile at a bubbly 20 year old, wanting to be seen and heard and liked and drunk. They’re like a bright light in a dark room. A really, really, bright, florescent light that you can’t keep out of your face! Luckily, as we get older, we realize that less is more in almost every area of life. We slow down, we quiet down; we look down instead of having to chat up every single person we pass. Here are 14 ways we realize less is more as we age.
Remember getting your hair braided before school? Or your first perm? What about running home before the street lights came on? We’ve got a list of things we remember from growing up as black girls. Add your favorite memory to the comments section.
Got Your Hair Braided
Most of us remember sitting between our mother’s/sister’s/cousin’s/auntie’s knees to get about a dozen braids before school. Reach your hand back there to count though and you might get popped.
“I think this one looks a little better on you. Wait, try on this size first.
My mom refused to let me change back into my yoga pants and loose shirt in the dressing room. I already had four outfits laying on the cushion seat next to the room mirror that I tried on. But, she couldn’t resist asking me to put on a pair of long shorts with a funky pattern.
“These are so corny. I love them on you!”
The echo of our laughs went over the store music. We both sounded like hyenas, cackling away like we were at home. My mom and I have a particularly interesting relationship in the sense that we have one that relies on a woman’s favorite pastime: shopping.
What started out as monthly outings, which my mom dubbed “ladies ‘night,” morphed into a cathartic session that allowed us to speak openly with each other about our insecurities, dreams and family stories. It’s not like we didn’t have a good relationship when we weren’t shopping, but the activity definitely helps.
Although I never disliked going shopping with my mom — I used to ask for dresses every week at the age of 4 — I didn’t appreciate the trips until I got out of my teens. I was going through the awkward teen years of getting used to my large foot size and managing my fluctuating weight before puberty. There were moments when we went shopping and I didn’t feel like even looking through the shoe racks because I knew I would outgrow them within a year. Mom remained supportive, though, and always told me that I’d appreciate myself as I got older and my bank account became more, ahem, healthy. Her shopping lessons go beyond helping me find the right cut, it’s about repeating the rhetoric of financial independence. Having amazing clothes is an investment just like everything else of quality is, mom says. And when you have investments, you have freedom, independence and options for yourself.
She has told me countless times about what she wishes she did when she was my age, which primarily concerns her not finishing her college education. Her regret comes through, but in an interesting way, I think she’s living through my journey while helping me prepare for what’s next. A pencil skirt that she picks out for me is a cut that she hopes I’ll wear to my first red carpet event. This purple dress, she says, is the first out of many I’ll wear before “your clothes are personally made for you.” Every shopping trip is another opportunity for us to live out both of our dreams — the one I have for myself and the one she has for me.
There have also been a few times when I’ve been able to break her out of her shell. My mom has always been pretty funky when it comes to her style. But, over the years, she has complained about her weight (that she really doesn’t need to lose) and her chest size. “I swear clothes fit you like a hanger,” she says, which is partially true. I’m fairly slim and am able to wear a variety of clothing, unlike my mother who struggled with being overweight in her 20s. Her weight issues were 20 years ago, though her insecurity still lingers. \
I picked up a gold skirt that was flashy and opulent, everything I love in one item. It hugged me in the right places, but didn’t look as over-the-top as my mom and I thought. “Ya know, I think I’ll get that in my size,” she said. Now, usually if a friend of mine tries to walk out of the store with even the same bracelet as me, I balk. But, I’ve appreciated this influence I’ve had on my mother as I’ve gotten older.
Every shopping trip allows me to see her more and more as the woman that she is. There’s always a moment when you see your parents as humans, particularly when you can relate to their vulnerabilities. That’s what is starting to happen for me. Our relationship isn’t perfect by any means, but nothing comes between us and a 75% off sale.
Jade Earle is a freelance writer in New York with a penchant for words and a little bit of time on her hands. She can be found and followed on Twitter @jadeoliviae.
No one told you being a grown-up sucks because you would not listen even if they did tell you! Point blank ….period.
I remember hearing from my mother and aunts, “Enjoy your youth. Enjoy being young. Enjoy being a child with no responsibilities,” and I would quickly scoff at this wisdom. I would speak softly under my breath about elders, bosses, married women and my parents not understanding my plight, trials and tribulations as a teenager, young adult, college student, law student, single woman…..you name it!
However, my very own life experiences and tests have actually taught me throughout my matriculation as an adult that being a grown up actually does not have to suck.
Let’s run down a laundry list of grown up experiences that MAY suck:
1) Having to work full time just to have no money after paying bills.
2) Working at a job, or for a boss that you actually do not like.
3) Paying taxes.
4) Not being in a meaningful relationship.
5) Not being able to eat whatever you want without gaining weight.
6) Not having children yet.
7) Being passed up for a well-deserved promotion and/or raise.
8) Dealing with sickness.
9) Not getting into the graduate school of your choice.
I have dealt with each and every instance listed above. Believe me when I tell you that those life experiences hurt, some more than others, however, they were all a part of my growing on so many levels. Throughout those sucky experiences, I have grown in my faith, patience, expectations, love and relationships.
Read more on HelloBeautiful.com.
I should probably start by telling you that I’m guilty. I’m guilty of entertaining “friendships” with questionable women who display suspect behavior. Why? I’m not exactly sure, but I believe that part of it is due to my constant efforts to see the best in people. So much so that I tend to overlook behaviors that clearly indicate a person probably doesn’t have my best interest at heart.
I met my first frenemy in elementary school and it took her burning me several times in middle school before I finally woke up and realized that I’d better cut this girl off before she does the unimaginable, and of course, I’d have no one to blame but myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fool. I was always fully aware of her shady behavior, but I was in my early teens and I frequently second guessed myself. I believe that’s the tricky thing about frenemies. They are not fans of the obvious, but instead, they’re crafty masters of subtlety and doctors of deception. A frenemy will almost never do something so blatantly obvious that they leave you walking away determined to never speak to them again. Oh no, that would be too easy. A frenemy would rather strike you soft enough to come across as playful, but hard enough to cause you to want to strike back. They commit shady deeds that are so illusive, they’re almost unidentifiable and often leave you asking yourself, “Did that just happen?” which eventually leads to “Maybe they didn’t mean it that way,” and somehow becomes, in many cases for me, “I’m probably overreacting.” And of course, the cycle continues. As subtle as they may be though, you can almost always count on a frenemy to eventually go overboard and hurt you in an irreversible way. It may come now, it may come later, but I’d bet my last dollar that it will come eventually.
It took me encountering people like this throughout high school and college before it dawned on me that entertaining frenemies was like playing Russian roulette. Dealing with sly and underhanded people may seem harmless while in your teens, but as I got older, I quickly learned that the stakes are higher once you enter adulthood because you have so much more to lose, which brings me to my latest revelation. Several years ago, I formed somewhat of a friendship with a woman who eventually began displaying frenemy-like behavior. It was like a full-time job to show myself as someone welcoming enough to carry on a friendship, but keeping enough distance between us so that she couldn’t burn me. Letting her know enough about me for us to get to know each other, but not enough that she could use any of the information she knows about me to hurt me. I would literally attempt to stay five steps ahead of her just to protect myself from the wrath of the frenemy that I knew would eventually come. Then one day I slowed down and asked myself, “Who the heck has time for this?” Who has time carry on a not-so-sincere friendship with a person you can’t even let your guard down around because you have apprehensions about their loyalty? Either you’re with me or you’re not, right? I mean really, what grown woman has time to play the frenemy game? It’s silly, time consuming and in the end, a snake will always be a snake. In that moment, I made up my mind that my genuine friendship is gift, my time is precious, and neither will be wasted on insincere people.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since entering my twenties, it’s that real women don’t entertain frenemies. There are much better ways to spend your time, and with much better people.
Follow Jazmine on Twitter @jazminedenise.