If you’ve ever felt bad about not being as pretty as another woman, or as funny, charming or talented, this article is for you. It’s hard not to compare yourself to other women when we live in such a cut-throat society. The most popular stories we hear are focused on the spectacular winners—whether winners of the business, exceptionally beautiful people, or particularly talented athletes or entertainers. Yet, the rules of competition are that there can only be one winner, which means a lot of people are going to “lose”, especially black women.
First of all, I’m going to explain WHY you feel the need to be exceptional. The truth is, this world has no place for average, unexceptional everyday black women. To be worth anything, we have to supercede white standards, to go above and BEYOND in every way and just be completely dazzling, jaw-dropping. Superhuman.
As unfair as it is, that’s what society asks of us.
The truth is, it’s taken me a long time to get to a place where I’m comfortable with just being an average black woman. To accept myself for being someone who the world often rejects. Here are some tips I’ve learned to help you cope with just being “average”:
1. Create Space For Yourself And Other Black Women In The World By Hustling
“You have to work twice as hard and be twice as good to get anywhere in this world” – almost every black child has heard or will hear this from their parents at least once while growing up, I know I certainly have. It’s an unfortunate truth. The world just doesn’t cater to black people and especially not to black women.
According to the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance report, only 8% of black women are employed in the private sector, even though black women are obtaining degrees at a high rate. The study also showed that black women work more hours than white women (at a rate which is continually increasing per year), yet are paid only 63% of what white men make and earn 17% less than white women annually. This news isn’t surprising, but it’s no excuse to give up. It simply means we have to adjust to the way that the world treats us and fight back smartly.
This means we won’t get ahead by hustling more, but only by hustling smarter.
I personally won’t settle for having to work twice as hard as my white counterparts to get and keep a job. That’s why I’m working on creating a business for and by black women, that will help me and other women build a space for ourselves. By starting a business, I have the potential to make more money and outsource jobs to other black women, where I will pay them competitive wages for their work and not ask them to bend over backwards for me.
2. Undo The Chains of Mental Slavery & Oppression From Your Mind
The first step of self-acceptance is to undo the effects of other systems of oppression on your mind. It’s clear that this is a priority for black women, with epidemics like skin bleaching and plastic surgery threatening our health.
In 2009, Global Industry Analysts (GIA) predicted that the skin lightening industry would be worth $10 billion as of 2015, and later rise to $23 billion by 2020. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) claimed that up to 77% of women in Nigeria were reported to be using skin-lightening products regularly.
The skin bleaching issue isn’t just a symptom of low self-esteem among black women, it also has the potential to kill us, with effects of using skin bleach ranging from permanent skin damage to skin cancer. At this point, we are willing to risk our health in order to better compete in the beauty contest of our society.
Black women, it’s a priority that we begin to re-condition our minds by educating ourselves on the inner workings of racism, colorism and sexism, and developing the tools to prepare yourself for when you see both systems at work in your everyday world. It’s not a matter of if you see it, but when. Understanding how colorism, racism and sexism have been manufactured to make you feel bad about yourself will help you undo the internalization of any self-hatred or anti-self-ideals you may have unconsciously developed.
3. Connect With Other Badass Black Women Like Yourself
The more you get to know other black women, the more you’ll see that there is nothing average about us. We are one tough lot of women and we ought to be prouder of ourselves.
Surround yourself with other black women who face the same systems of oppression that you do, people that you can vent to who will understand exactly what you’re talking about and how it feels to be the only black woman in a workplace, or to be a black woman in the dating scene of 2018. Cut out toxic friends or people whose presence threatens your mental health and encourage yourself to spend time with people who will bring out the best in you, bring opportunities and most importantly, understand you.
"Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety, Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law."