Lori Harvey celebrated her 26th birthday in Los Angeles with a host of family, friends, and, it seems, a new romantic interest. Lori’s new boo appears to be Nigerian/British cutie Damson Idris—one of Hollywood’s hottest new leading men and the star of the FX hit series Snowfall. The couple seemed to confirm their relationship in an Instagram post from Idris wishing the socialite and model a happy birthday—with Idris’s arms swallowing Harvey and Harvey looking very, very happy.
I enjoy peeking in on Lori Harvey via social media. I like her fashion looks and the various captures she shares of her living the kind of “soft life” so many Black women aspire towards. I also LOVE seeing Black women dating and being loved well, and Harvey—despite her naysayers—seems to have the art of being loved and dated well on lock. Too often, Black women are made to feel that desiring to be treated well during the dating and mating stages before marriage is asking for too much. Our social media timelines are constantly inundated with arguments about $200 dates and video clips of Kevin Samuels and his ilk telling Black women that if they back their cars into parking spots they are behaving like men. Black women are not supposed to have high dating standards, and their ability to have any dating standards at all seems to diminish according to their age, their size, how many children they have, and whether they know how to be “feminine” enough for men to find them attractive and datable. Dating in 2022, for a lot of Black women, is a dumpster fire.
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Lori Harvey is dating and, I’m sure, figuring out who she is and what she likes as a twenty-something year old woman, and we should celebrate her ability to do that happily and with ease. I would hope that we see her dating patterns as in-line with her age and social status. Of course, Lori dates men who are handsome, well-resourced and who appear to spoil her—she is beautiful, also well- resourced and someone who can likely spoil herself. The point of dating is to spend time with a person (or people) who are aligned and who add value to one’s life. But there seems to be an army of men and women who don’t believe Lori Harvey deserves to be dated and spoiled by the men who adore her. To them, Harvey has dated too many high-profile men, including acclaimed actor Michael B. Jordan, rapper Future, and Dutch soccer player Memphis Depay (to whom she was engaged). There is also that silly rumor that won’t die about Harvey dating Both Diddy and his son Justin. I mean, how could she not be a “hoe” if she’s been linked to all those men? After all, women are supposed to be chaste and pious and “date with a purpose,” while their male counterparts are encouraged to sew their wild oats and reek pure havoc on the lives of the women they are romantically attached to.
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When photos of Lori Harvey being out and about with Damson Idris began circulating online, I knew the slut-shaming of Harvey wouldn’t be far behind. I knew people would make some reference to Damson Idris and Michael B. Jordan both being actors who run in the same circle. I knew folks would bring up Diddy and Justin. I even expected Black incels to bring up the fact that their idol Future tried to warn us all that Harvey is “for the streets” and can’t be trusted. What I was not expecting was the vitriol I saw coming from other Black women, regarding Harvey. And I’m not talking “Here Lori goes with another fine ass boo; save some for us, girl!” comments, but comments that were far more insidious. As I was perusing IG, I noticed a post on Fashion Bomb Daily (a fashion blog that caters primarily to Black women) offering details on Idris and Harvey’s looks for Lori’s birthday party, and under the post were all of these comments from Black women condemning and also slut-shaming the her. “Everyone gets a turn if they wait patiently,” commented one Black woman on the post. Another commented that it is not good for women to be seen out with many different men. “Date in private, and marry in public,” she warned. “You just can’t do what men do and still be a lady,” commented another Black woman. As a forty-something Black woman born and raised in the South, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by what Black women have to say about Lori Harvey and her dating habits, but here I am shocked and saddened by what I read.
Tradition says that women should buy into patriarchal standards to be deemed as valuable, and if women push back against those values then we become undesirable as potential mates for marriage (and, really, what else could women possibly want for their lives more than being someone’s wife?). If we imagine white-hetero patriarchy as a system that guides the ways we view men as more powerful, more important and more deserving than women, then we should understand misogyny as the way those systematic views are communicated and enacted. Even more, we should acknowledge that Black women are subjected to a particular kind of misogyny that joins sexism and anti-blackness— which we’ve come to call misogynoir, a phrase coined by Black feminist writer and thinker Moya Bailey in 2010. What I saw in the comments on that Fashion Bomb Daily Instagram post was absolutely misogynoirist, and yes, Black women can succumb to internalized- misogynoir. This happens, usually, when Black women buy into the patriarchal standards that they were socialized to uphold, then resent women who choose not to join them. I can imagine that if I spent my twenties dating the same sorry man and didn’t get to explore my romantic (or sexual) likes and dislikes, or if I “saved myself” for marriage and spent my young adult years waiting to “get chose,” by a man just to become is maid and second mama, seeing Lori Harvey date multiple handsome, rich men—and be treated with love, dignity and respect by all of them, might make me scoff at her too—projecting instead of dealing with my feelings of self-disappointment, self-sabotage or self-shame.
I also believe that a lot of us—men and women alike—have no idea what healthy dating and relationships should look like—especially outside of the patriarchal lenses with which so many of us view the world. Lori Harvey is 26, foine, wealthy and refining her tastes in men and relationships—seemingly in a healthy way. She’s clearly having a ball, and the men she dates seem to delight in spoiling her publicly and making it clear they are dating her (Now, much can be said about the possible patriarchal dick measuring that might be happening with these public displays of affection by men, but that’s another piece for another day). The reality is everyone we date—at any age—will not be marriage material. And the only way that we can figure out what works for us romantically and what doesn’t is to date, and likely date often. The only difference between Lori, and many of us, is that our dating choices and dating drama isn’t tracked by blogs and paparazzi. Harvey also seems to be able to healthily attach and detach in relationships—being open to the possibility of new love and also being ready to move forward when she realizees that the relationship she’s in in no longer serves her. Black folks are so accustomed to hearing and seeing stories of ride-or-die, struggle love involving Black women, that when we see a Black women opting out of that tired narrative, we are offended and want to baptize her a whore.
I want Black women to hope for something better for the younger Black women who are coming of age in this moment. Lori Harvey, and so many young women like her, are doing it right and dating well. We should not be chastising her, or other women, for making choices that we might feel uncomfortable (or even don’t desire to) make. What we should be doing is respecting women’s choices to date how they want and in the ways that will best serve them, and we should not condemn them as they move through the many trials and errors that are a natural part of truly growing up. Lori got a mama, ya’ll, and clearly a mama that has taught her well. More support, less petty meanness—that’s what I want for Lori Harvey and all Black women as we sashay into 2023.
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