Aunty* just turned 60…
Simmer on that. Yes, my eyes popped out too!
I was about six months late on watching Black Panther. While I understood the cultural significance of Black Panther, I am not one of those people who will rush to the cinema for new releases. When I finally watched it, I left feeling as though an incredible opportunity to feature more of aunty Angela was missed. I don’t have any doubts that CrossFit, running, Nike training club workouts and the occasional Jillian Michaels workout here and there will keep me fit until the day I return to God, but whenever I feel myself getting lazy, somehow as if by magic a picture of aunty Angela pops up out of nowhere. As a black female constantly at odds with the stereotype still running rampant that black women don’t work out or have a high sense of health prioritisation, seeing a black female icon (my others being Serena Williams obviously, G.O.A.T!!! Elisabeth Akinwale, Massy Arias and Lita Lewis,) breaking this stereotype is representation that truly does matters!
In an interview with Essence magazine, Angela spoke on her confidence on the red carpet;
Sometimes, if you don’t feel it, you gotta do it and then the feeling will come. I’ll say to my glam team, ‘I have great arms, you might want to show that!’ I believe we all have something—great legs, beautiful hair—so find your something, be proud of it, and accentuate it.”
My something has for a long time been my arms, however it isn’t always an asset I flaunt because of past insecurities on my arms being too muscular for a girl, add to that a very strange experience where a man I do not know came up to me and touched my arm and proceeded to ask how I got them that way. Lord knows I wanted to say ‘if you train, you too can have arms like mine.’ Unfortunately, it’s only in my head that I’m extremely snarky to intrusive strangers. How can I forget a blind date gone wrong where I was asked to flex? That is exactly what every woman wants to do on a date…
Lately I’ve started to care less about what people think about my arms, about me. At the end of the day, my body houses my spirit, my thoughts, my emotions, my intelligence (both intellectual and emotional.) Our physical appearance, our physical make up is secondary to our spiritual make up. Internally, (not just about my arms,) do I love the physical manifestations that I am responsible for on this glorious journey of life that I get to experience every day? It’s the opinion that you have in relation to your life and the things you can control that matter the most. There are circumstances and people that are out of our realm of control. The things that we can change, requires strength from us to take that first step towards boldly walking towards those things we know will fulfill us. I love Beyoncé (you’re crazy if you don’t) and I love what she said in her interview with Vogue magazine. Queen B said that she wants her son to realise that the real magic he possesses in this world is that power and ability to affirm his own existence.
I believe this is the boldness and confidence that exudes so visibly from the women that I’ve mentioned in this post. The ability to claim the space that you take up unashamedly and unapologetically being true only to yourself. This act of taking up space and claiming it is one that I am currently learning. I work with the most intelligent people, yet they’ve maintained a humility that you wouldn’t expect from people of their calibre. The boss lady is a woman who astounds me each time I speak to her. I gush A LOT about my bosses to my boyfie. When I first started my contract, I would have this ‘deer caught in headlights’ look whenever I spoke to her and now I’m finally moving to a stage where because I’m growing in confidence simply by listening to the knowledge they impart, the fear-filled look on my face has all but disappeared and I am learning to use the responsibility I’ve been given to speak up when needed, without fear or apprehension.
Positive images of blackness are affirming, positive images of womanhood are affirming. Positive images of what it means to be black and female, even better! In a world that doesn’t immediately (and often times does not at all,) appreciate blackness, seeing black women thrive whether they be artists, sportswomen, academics or the girl next door, is empowering and validating. To see women who are as committed as you are in looking after the body that houses their spirits, the very essence of their being lends to your own stamina and endurance on this journey of life.
You can recognize strength by it being juxtaposed against vulnerability, vulnerability is sensitivity and tenderness and all those things, there’s great strength in that. It ebbs and flows, it’s just being human. Knowing that whether I’m strong, whether I’m weak or I’m tender, I’m enough. Angela Bassett
*you’ll get the aunty reference if you watched Black Panther 🙂