Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie posted a photo of Beyonce from the 2014 MTV Video Music Award with the caption: “On Monday morning I woke to images of Beyoncé, striking a dramatic pose – dressed as the world’s most beautiful disco ball – in front of the word “FEMINIST” and felt like an excited kid all over again. Or rather, an excited kid in a far more thrilling pop culture universe than the one I was an actual kid in.” The talented singer wore a sequined bodysuit reminiscent of a sexy disco ball, showing her derriere and legs as she moved with confidence across the stage. She kept the crowd entertained with her sensual and well rehearsed dance moves, expressive facial expressions, and strong voice. The whole performance was flawless. In the middle of the 16-minute show, her silhouette stood firmly and dramatically in front of the word “Feminist” as Adichie’s “We should all be feminists” speech played in the background. What brings this discussion is a man’s comment under Adichie’s photo of her. (Sidenote:This article is not about Beyonce and my opinion of her, but rather a small rant about what a feminist should or not look like.) He wrote, “But do you think she’s a good public figure with how she disposes herself in public(nudity)? And if that’s what FEMINISTS are composed of, then one day wen i have a daughter, I would not want her to be one.”
What does a feminist look like? Why do we always have to put women in a box? A feminist is anyone (woman or man) who believes in social, political, economical equality for men and women. And that’s it. So why do we have to look a certain way? Why do we have to speak a certain way? Beyonce is a pop culture performer. She has the right to dress however she pleases. She’s here for entertaining, nothing more. And if the way she entertains offends you, you don’t have to watch her. I don’t own a television. I am not obsessed with her, but I respect her. She is a hard working woman who deserves all she has earned. She’s constantly pushing boundaries, and if she claims that she’s a feminist, who am I to tell her differently? Are there things she does I’m not a fan of? Yes, but why does that matter? She’s a human being, and she’s not here to please everyone. Should I tell her that she should only dress like Michelle Obama if she wants to be a feminist? Or carry herself like Oprah? She is her own being, and that’s what’s beautiful about women. We are all different and carry our beauties and strengths in various ways.
As a feminist, I have my own beliefs. And while they’re not all listed here, I’m happy to share a few with you. I believe in equality between men and women.I believe that women should be able to do whatever they please without being oppressed just because of their gender. I believe women should be as natural or as made up as they want to be. You want to use African black soap and shea butter on your skin? Good for you, girl! Oh, you want to contour the hell out of your face and curl your hair so big you look like a cotton ball? Good for you too, girl! And you want to be the girl who does both? Ok! I believe in the strength of the woman. And I believe that each woman carries her strength differently. I believe a woman can be sexy if she wants to be without having to feel like she’s an object. And if she doesn’t want to be “sexy”, leave her alone too! And I know that sexiness is not all about how little we dress either. I believe the woman should be proud of her body, and it’s her say in how she chooses to display it. If her body offends you, you can always look away or it’s simple, do not do what she does. But why do we have to put her down just because she’s doing to do what she pleases? And I get so mad when people blame women for being sexually harassed or raped because according to some ridiculous social law, “they weren’t wearing enough clothes, so they asked for it.” Please stop with that mentality.
There is this big division among women, and that’s partly because we all expect other women to act, dress, and behave the way we want them to. We don’t want them to be too sexy, but they’re boring if they’re not sexy enough. Nothing is ever good enough for us because sometimes we forget that we are all individuals. I think it’s ok to acknowledge our differences, but still come together for the bigger picture. We forget that if we stand together, the world would be a much better place. We glorify the wrong things, and we shut other people down as soon as they don’t meet our “expectations” of who we think they should be.
People have assumed before just because I have very “African” features, I’m dark skinned with natural hair, I will naturally despise Beyonce or any girl who looks like her. They think because I sometimes wear a long skirt and headwras, I will put other women down who wear extensions and tight little shorts. The truth is I just want people to accept other people for who they are. And if you’re not going to accept them, just stay away from them. You don’t have to make it your duty to follow them around and bully them into who you think they should be. I don’t care if a woman is covered with tattoos or have piercings to the point where she’s beyond recognition. I don’t care if a woman only like to wear loose clothing and tennis shoes. I don’t care if all she wants is that 6-inch stiletto. Or small shorts to “twerk” in. I don’t care if a woman wears an afro and only wears skirts past her ankles. All of these women I described are human beings. And they all have a purpose. They can all be feminists if they want to be. To me our outer appearance is just our costume.
Another discussion to have is why the word “feminist” either offends or scares people so much. I think sometimes we read too much into things to the point where we make matters worst. Just relax, people. Live a little!