When I first caught on to this notion of the “carefree black girl,” I immediately latched on it. Like woah, other black women who refuse to conform to ridiculous societal rules influenced by patriarchy and imperialism, I’m all the way here for it!
Black girls who rock a straight
weave wig one day and a twist out the next. #HEREFORIT
Black girls who embrace their curves and wear the tightest body con dress and dont give a F what anyone has to say about it. #HEREFORIT
Black girls who have no issue making a comfortable room uncomfortable, who speak the truth even when no one wants to listen. #HEREFORIT
To me these ideals are everything. Buuttttt, there’s just one tiny little problem. While the idea of being a carefree black girl is deeply embedded and engrained in my heart, I can’t be carefree.
Even though I am a “style/beauty blogger,” this is how you will usually find me…sitting in my studio in a big t-shirt, doing work, coming up with new ideas, and watching Netflix…usually all three simultaneously.
There is a misalignment between what is ideal and what is real. And as a 26 year old black, female Columbia graduate student who works in a field dominated by white women and who walks the streets of NYC on a daily basis, I just can’t be that carefree.
Yes, I dress how I want and wear clothes that make me feel good. However, I’m painfully aware of how many pairs of male eyes trace my body up and down when I walk out of the house in a party dress, making my 5 minute walk to the subway feel like an hour. And that’s not to say this is the only time I get the stares. Even sitting in the back of a cab on a Sunday evening in sweatpants and a t-shirt doesn’t stop men from yelling at me through the car window, and letting me (and my cab driver) know that I look “wet & ready.” And so, at times, I do care about how I’m dressed and how it comes off to other people.
Yes, I love to change my hair (on the daily if I could) and play in makeup. But, I honestly don’t always feel like dealing with the questions that my big afro wig attracts (is that all yours? can I touch it? where did you get it from? how long have you been growing it?) Or the confused looks I get when I have short curled ombre weave one day and long kinky straight weave the next. And so, at times, I do care about how often I change my wigs or how much makeup I decide to wear to certain places.
And yes, I looveee to go out, party my ass off, and have a good time. I wanna go to boozy brunch and attend reggae day parties in Brooklyn just as much as the next girl. Butttt, as a graduate student at Columbia University, (one of the most prestigious universities in the world,) who is juggling a fashion internship (an industry that is not only very fast paced, but very unforgiving), I’m not only busy AF but on top of that I’m broke AF too. I am constantly having to worry about how to prioritize my time and keep myself on budget while still trying to have a little fun too and stay sane. And so, at times, I do care about the opportunities and chances I have to say no to, and I do care about letting people down.
I’ll say it again, I am a carefree black girl who can’t be carefree.
And, that’s OK.
While it does suck that society doesn’t always allow for the “carefree black girl” to shine and prosper, the fact that this new ideal even exists is important. But, no one should ever beat themselves up for not meeting this ideal either.
The fact of the matter is that, by definition, an ideal is “
This blog post is not just another rant about how my mid twenties are kinda sucky and I feel like I can’t truly just do me, (Ok, maybe it is a little bit) its about recognizing that while striving to achieve this ideal is great, you shouldn’t feel like you fall short when confronted with reality.
It takes courage to stand up and be the person taking the path less traveled, and that is what being a carefree black girl is. I applaud all of my fellow carefree black women out there who are breaking all the rules in the face of adversity: being black, compiled with being a woman in America.
But, let’s also acknowledge that sometimes, it’s ok NOT to be ok. It’s just as much ok to cry as it is to laugh, to vent as it is to preach. It’s ok to care how many likes you got on your selfie or how many you didn’t get on that feminist quote.
We should acknowledge our complexities and understand that we all have different things we are going through. So while we celebrate the carefree black girl, lets also celebrate the deliberating black girl, who is often forced to be twice as sure that her facts are right before she makes an argument, who might just throw on a jacket if forced to leave the house alone after 11:30pm, and who may feel pressure to laugh at “jokes” with coworkers about the size of Nicki Minaj’s booty.
A carefree black girl who can’t be carefree.
Shirt: Michael Aguwunobi