From the moment a black girl is born we are subconsciously told we are not “good enough”. Our hair is not straight enough, our lips are too full, our butts are too big we simply are not good enough to be loved. Our parents try their best to teach us differently, but the influence of society is too great on us and they stay fighting a losing battle. For years I struggled with this type of self hate. It was like a powerful drug that I was addicted to despite me knowing better. I talked myself out of great opportunities because I never felt like I deserved them. I stayed in relationships that were toxic because I needed validation by a man. By the time I entered college, I was a broken person.
Still in college I took on a different persona, I went years trying to always change something about myself. I stayed in the hair & nail salons making sure I was perfect because I did not want to give anyone ammunition to tell me I was not “up to par”. I wanted to be that “it” girl. After college I had a series of epiphanies that made me realize that not only was I good enough but I was better than good, I was great.
You see I had this revelation before I self destructed from many of the social ills us black women suffer from: bad men, bad relationships or low self esteem. Unfortunately many of us black women never do get an epiphany and we spend our entire lives hating ourselves—just like many of the women we see weekly on reality television.
Last week I wrote an article ,”VH1 Hates Black Women” that has drawn a lot of discussion on how the media views us. However, the one thing I kept hearing was that the networks were not to blame but we were—black women. You see we as black women hate ourselves that’s why we allow our image to be degraded, belittled and not valued by society without putting up a fight. Let me put it in plain English. We practice one of the oldest forms of drugs, self hatred.
Before you get upset think about this. When people hate themselves what do they usually do? They usually overcompensate in some other aspect in their life. Some of us will go overboard with our physical appearance; some will go overboard in their relationships while others will become aggressive to others.
Now think about the usual reality villains on television and answer these questions.
- What woman openly decides to destruct a family by sleeping with a married man? A woman who hates herself enough who wants to seem powerful enough to break apart another women’s family.
- What woman stays with a cheating man despite being blatantly disrespected? A woman who hates herself enough that her self esteem is non existent.
- What woman allows a man to throw a drink on her but she still leaves in the same car with him that night? A woman who puts more value on her man being able to buy her another fur despite her losing her dignity.
- What woman bullies another woman to the point that she takes her purse and refuses to return it? A woman whose so insecure about herself that she harasses innocent people to make herself feel better.
- What women will sacrifice her own independence, dignity and well being to be with a man whose only value is that he’s famous? A woman who holds no value in herself.
- What woman goes on social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and posts naked pictures of herself for attention? Someone is so broken that they only feel love when people are giving them attention.
These scenarios are the images that are displayed on reality television every week. These are the images are daughters and sons look at and attempt to emulate because society has told them it’s acceptable. These are the images that show the self hatred many of us have—for ourselves.
For the past ten years I’ve worked in public education, and I can’t tell you how many young girls look up to the women on these shows. Instead of talking out differences they fight—until blood is drawn just to prove that “they’re about that life” in the words of reality show criminal, Evelyn Lozada. Do you know how many times, I’ve had to counsel two young girls willing to date the same boy because they “love” him? Then there are the girls that I see on a daily basis who are willing to lose all their dignity just to be accepted in school? Contrary to most people’s thoughts, there are adult women whose goal in life is to be like these women. They are willing to live the life as a “baller’s wife” or a baby mama , just to be connected to a celebrity so they can live the good life.
As I looked through my timeline on Twitter, it was ever so apparent that there were people who felt the opposite of me. They loved the show, the characters and even tweeted their support of the mistress or sympathized with staying with a man who cheated because they wanted to be a “ride or die” chick.
To go even further there are executives, writers, and producers on these shows who know the imagery they are displaying are horrible but they are willing to “sell their souls” for a profit or for the promise to advance their careers. They have no shame pimping this image for all our young girls to see.
In the end, the only way we can stop self hate is to educate ourselves and our youth. We have to turn off the television and show our children that what they see on reality television is not real. However what is real is their mother’s struggle to make it in corporateAmericaas a black woman. We have to let our daughter’s know that while beauty is important it will never make you a good person, or make you a good person.
In addition, we have to continue to make these studios accountable and these stereotypes are not acceptable. Take a moment and boycott these show, stop tweeting about this ratchetness, write letters to the advertisers demanding their ads be pulled. Push until we have a guarantee that reality shows that ONLY depict black women as violent, self absorbed “hotties” do not have a place on television. Demand that studios show more positive story lines for women of color. If we don’t we will have a whole generation of young, black girls who hate themselves.
Self hate is one powerful drug.