I saw this story and as a mother of many daughters, I was reminded of a recent encounter where conversations and thoughts were sparked. Namely, about authenticity and trusting that God knows what He is doing when He makes us the way He deems best.
At our daughters’ commencement, several of us got separated, going in different directions for different things. SAM to get better shots of his girl, me to the ladies room, etc. Upon re-entering the crowded venue I didn’t immediately notice a man looking at me, trying to get my attention. I was looking over him, as I always look a little higher when I want to find my husband in a crowd.
When I finally did notice on him, he walked up to me and told me he thought the way I wore my hair was “beautiful”. I thanked him just as my husband and I found our way to each other in the crowd. My husband later made a joke about my picking up strange men, and one of my daughters asked rather pointedly, “Black guy?” The majority of men who compliment my girls on their hair are non black men.
As it happened however, this gentleman was black. Her next query was one of his approximate age. He was about my age I said, and she figured as much. The older ones are used to and more comfortable with black women straightening their hair and the younger ones haven’t quite matured enough to appreciate a look outside of what they see as the dominant look qua Beyonce, Kerry Washington, etc.
Sidebar: Those are generalizations, and not absolutes. There is always an exception to be found to any general statement. Without generalizations, communication itself becomes impossible and generalizations do not emerge from nothing. Now, where was I…
Another of the 1,000,001 things I love about my husband -contrasted with many other men we know- is that when I made the transition from wearing my hair chemically straightened to wearing it in its natural state, he never objected. He never complained or requested the chemically straightened tresses that I’d worn from when we met in 1992, even knowing I would immediately straighten it if he asked. This was 18 months ago, in transition, but before that it was longer. He was still cool with the curls. Once again, his overall confidence made it easier to confidently embrace the natural me.
Confidence left unchecked can easily become a vice. Nevertheless, it takes confidence in this culture to walk confidently in our God-given states, particularly if you’re a woman. Everywhere we look, we’re implored to change and alter things about ourselves -big and small- to appeal to as wide a consensus of attractiveness vectors as we can. Whether it was me with 28 years of relaxing or the woman who faithfully spends exorbitant amounts to be blond, or at least not gray. Those don’t even include the massive uptick in the amount of money spent on cosmetic surgeries year after year. The barbie girl is just the most extreme example of a dominant trend.
Single women are in a particularly vulnerable state. I am blessed to have the task of meeting the preferences and desires of one man. One who, quite frankly, has a high standard threshold. If I had the task of most single women, it would seem incredibly overwhelming in this climate. Niche culture has eaten away at the things we should do “in general”.
In general, stay fit, dress and groom well, followed with being kind and competent, would be enough for any woman to tackle as she navigates the single life in hopes of finding a mate. Those generalities however, are just the tip of a massive and winding iceberg. General rules have been tossed aside.
For example, I tend to find large tattoos ugly things, detracting from a woman’s beauty. However for many men tattoos (even arm-length ones), are just fine and dandy. You can expand this to include colored hair, overdone makeup, too much skin, etc. I could probably fill a page with things that were considered gauche when I was a teenager yet are perfectly acceptable now. “Nappy” hair was also on the list though, so…
I don’t engage in modesty debates anymore, for a host of reasons, but one of which is that in the absence of a commonly held set of belief about what is and is not acceptable for a woman to wear, there’s too much subjectivity. Even women who preach modesty can find themselves on the wrong side of someone else’s scale, and one man’s modesty is another man’s slutty. Given my propensity to feel choked without a décolleté just shy of too low, I decided to let my husband mind my business and let other women’s husbands and fathers mind theirs.
One thing that I do feel strongly about, and which every week I find my conviction growing, is that our best bet is to be the best, as beautiful, and the most honorable we can be in our own skin, and let the chips fall where they may.
Disclosure: I spend money, and sometimes quite a bit, on my appearance. What does that mean exactly? I’ll answer if asked.