Self-Esteem and Body Image Playlist

freckles

Sometimes I need a good “pick me up.”  Food can be helpful, but I find a healthier alternative is to turn to a song or songs that remind me that I am so much more than my appearance and my body and that I am so much more than my circumstances or situation.  Thus, over the years I have created a “Love Yourself” Playlist that I play to encourage myself.  I realize that so many problems in life — friendships, relationships, jobs — boil down to the fact that we don’t think we are good enough and/or we don’t realize our immeasurable worth.   But I long made a vow that I’m not going to sacrifice my self-worth and self-respect on the altar of relationships and romantic love and financial success.

I love me more.

By the time I get through this playlist, I feel like I am capable of taking over the world.   I play this while I’m working out or on my way to work or school.

These songs are about being strong and loving yourself.  We have to love ourselves if we are ever going to love others (Matt 22:39; Mark 12:31). We can’t give what we don’t have.  You have to be U.G.L.Y. — You Gotta Love Yourself.  Or, as Eve Ensler would say, “Love your tree!

The whole playlist can be found here, on Spotify, or by clicking on each video link below.

All About that Bass — Meghan Trainor

Unpretty – TLC

Miss Independent — Ne Yo

Loving Me — Faith Evans, Syleena Johnson, KeKe Wyatt, Nicci Gilbert and Montifah Carter

Beautiful U R – Deborah Cox

Absolutely Not — Deborah Cox

Phenomenal Woman — Amy Sky

Thick Girls — Terrell Carter

Big Girl (You are Beautiful) — MIKA

Freckles – Natasha Bedingfield

Everybody’s Got a Story — Amanda Marshall

Natural — Rajdulari

Beautiful — Christina Aguliera

Fighter — Christina Aguliera

Stronger — Tessanne Chin or Kelly Clarkson

People Like Us — Kelly Clarkson

Good Enough — Jazmine Sullivan

I Feel Beautiful — Fantasia

Video — India.Arie

Brown Skin — India.Arie

I Am Not My Hair — India.Arie (version with P!nk or Akon)

You Gotta Be — Des’ree

Dontchange — Musiq Soulchild

You and I — John Legend

All of Me — John Legend (but I REALLY LOVE this version with Lindsey Stirling)

Just the Way You Are — Bruno Mars

Superwoman — Alicia Keys

Crooked Smile — J. Cole

Still I Rise — Yolanda Adams

Never Give Up — Yolanda Adams

I Gotta Believe — Yolanda Adams

Anything — Yolanda Adams

The following is also a great playlist:

What are some songs that you like listening to that boost your self-esteem and make you love yourself more?

body image

Photo by: zeafonso


Marry a Black Woman

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Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

— Dr. Maya Angelou

Date Marry a Black Woman

 
So… this post has nothing to do with veganism. That said, a few conversations in the past few weeks have made me feel like someone has to stand up for the Black woman and her eligibility as a life partner. I almost feel like Black women need a commercial or a public announcement.

 

The fact that she is mistreated and ignored by so many men from so many races, and particularly by Black men, is old news. However it is old news that has been recently thrusted into the spotlight. Personally, the past two weeks have been consumed with conversations with my female friends – from completely different social circles – about Black women and the “Black-men-don’t-like-us” quandary. Whenever one of my Black female friends calls me, she inevitably and eventually asks, “Why don’t they like us?” On Facebook last week, a few friends and I had a lengthy conversation in response to this video about racial dating preferences. Last week, Michelle McKinney Hammond posted an article about Black men not choosing Black women as wives. Then, this week, an exasperated friend texted me and said, “I’m done with Black guys.”

 

I felt like I had to write an article extolling the virtues of Black women, reminding the world and reminding ourselves that we are not only desirable but dateable and also marriageable. I thus thought it fitting to intersperse this piece with the poetry of the late Maya Angelou, who spent her life articulating the stories of and celebrating the beauty of Black women.

 
I garner my inspiration from other articles like, “Date a Teacher” or “Date a Woman Who Travels” or “Date a Woman Who Reads,” (here’s another one too).  So I entitle this piece, “Date Marry a Black woman.”  Don’t just date Black women; marry a Black woman.

 
Disclaimer: There may be people who say, “don’t tell me who to date – I date whom I please.” That’s great. I’m not telling anyone who to date. I have nothing against interracial relationships. I have no problem with Black men marrying White women – or women of any other race for that matter. I do, however, have a gripe with people who pass over Black women simply because the woman is Black. It bothers me that, on a whole, our loveliness is not fully appreciated but rather woefully undervalued and undermined.

 
I fully admit that I employ generalizations about Black women in this article. I fully admit that not all of the following aspects of Black femininity apply to everyone. However, in my humble estimation, they seem, in general, to apply to a broad range of Black women. My aim is not to offend, but to defend; not to spread hate but celebrate.
Date Marry a black woman.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Marry a Black woman. Marry us because we are strong. Oh how we are strong! Our bodies have been ravaged by rape and marred by molestation. We have been used and abused. Too often we are the victims survivors of male “hit-it-quit-it-don’t-babysit-it” policies. We are mommies and we are often daddies. We are homemakers and we are breadwinners. We are pilloried in the press, maligned in the media. We are hyper-sexualized and vilified – worst if we have handicaps or are overweight or don’t fit prescribed sexual/gender categories. Our world is utterly unkind to us. It calls us ugly. It tells us that we would be prettier if we were thinner, or lighter, or had straighter hair. And yet, despite all of this we rise. The adage, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is our motto. Like the donkey caught in the well, the more dirt that is thrown at us, the higher we climb.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Marry a Black woman. Marry us because of our attitude – not in spite of it. Some of us are sassy. Some of us are loud. Some of us are feisty. But our attitude is part of our engaging personalities. Our sass and our class may very well mean we don’t put up with nonsense…why would anyone want a woman who puts up with nonsense? We don’t play games and we mean business. Insofar as we do play games, we try to operate on a higher (but level) playing field. That means if you’re gonna step, you better come correct.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Marry a Black woman. Black women are sexy. Black women are beautiful in the truest definition of the word. Real women are real women whether they have curves or not. Black women, however, tend to be more shapely than all the rest. We are curvy. We are voluptuous. We have breasts. We are blessed in the BHT (Booty Hip Thigh) region. Some of us are tall and stately with legs for days, while others have “cushion for the pushin” and are exaggeratedly curvaceous. Our eyes may belie the depths of our souls and our individual stories, but let it be known that not only does our packaging look good: the content is priceless. Although the cover looks good, the book is even better. Our thick, pillowy lips serve more than just a sensual purpose – with our lips we kiss away booboos and childhood aches and speak words of empowerment and encouragement to our loved ones.

 
Marry a Black woman. Marry the determined Black woman. Marry the Black woman who goes to school full-time and works part time. Marry the Black woman who pursues her goals unswervingly and relentlessly. Marry the Black woman who is independent and secure. Because she can stand on her own two feet (but would sometimes rather lean on some strong arms) she will be a help and not a hindrance. But, of course, an independent Black woman needs a secure and confident partner. After all, iron sharpens iron.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Marry a Black woman. Know that when you marry a Black woman her physical beauty dissipates ever so slowly.  Black women are timeless.  In other words, “black don’t crack.” Like fine wine, we taste better with age. As the years go by, you will see her age gracefully and elegantly. Sagging breasts, curves that are a little less firm and stretch marks are all indicators of a life well lived and well spent. The passage of time peels and pulls back layers of insecurity and our purest pulchritude reveals itself.

 
Marry a Black woman. Black women are smart. We are super smart. We are obtaining an education at alarming rates, and often we had to surmount harrowing obstacles to achieve and get into Ivy halls and places of higher learning. We can hold our own in conversations. We are articulate. We are well-read. Whether it is figuring out how to make ends meet to keep our family afloat or creating savvy and salient solutions to the problems in our homes or in our society, we are innovative and ingenious.

 
Marry a Black woman. Marry the fun-loving Black woman. Marry the woman who can dance and who has rhythm. The woman who can jam to Keith Sweat, sway to Percy Sledge, bounce with Bob Marley, shed a tear with Boyz II Men, sing along to the Backstreet Boys and yodel with Charlie Pride. Although “I don’t see nothing wrong with a little bump and grind,” we can also whine, salsa dance, do the wobble wobble, dance the electric slide, waltz…simply put, we can move.

 
Marry a Black woman. Our diversity means that there will seldom be a dull moment. We sing, we dance, we skate, we swim. We are trained pianists. Some of us eat vegan or Paleo. We hail from the West Indies, the East Indies, from the United States, from Brazil, from the Dominican Republic, from Papau New Guinea – from all over the world. We speak English, French, Dutch, German, Spanish… We are lawyers, doctors, hairdressers, janitors, CEOs, nurses, teachers – the list goes on and on. We come in all shapes and sizes, with all heights and surprises. We have black hair and brown hair, and red hair and blonde hair. We’re 3b’s and 4c’s etcetera (only naturalistas will understand that one). Our hair is kinky and curly and wavy and everything in between. We have the fingerprint of God, and we are as unique as the stars in the sky. With our beautiful incandescence, our presence illuminates darkness.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Marry a Black woman. Yes, many of us are religious. Many of us were raised in the church, or the mosque or the synagogue. But our religiosity shouldn’t repel you. Because we know our Creator, we know who we are. We have an identity amidst a world with an identity crisis. We have cultivated a moral framework within which to live our lives. It gives us purpose and thus we can shine even brighter to make manifest the glory of God. Because we know who we are, we know who we could be to others.

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

And still we rise. Black women will forever rise to the occasion. We look for others to rise with us. We search for the Black men – or men in general – who will help us raise a generation that basks in the pride of who they are.


True Confessions: I Have Cellulite and It’s Not From Having Babies

I’ve been really, really busy over the past little while (law convocation, searching for jobs, sorting out my life), hence my lack of posting. But I will reblog this, because I’ve been meaning to write a post about this.

It always bothered me when BioOil commercials would come on because it would associate stretch marks with having children. What about those of us who have never had children but have stretch marks? I’ve had stretch marks since my teenage years — years when my skin had trouble keeping up with my growing body. And that’s okay. My brother has stretch marks on his arms — despite the fact and because he’s a body builder. What about those of us who exercise but have cellulite? Sometimes we must turn the generalizations on their head. I love what Lily has written. She says it better than me. 🙂

Such Small Hands

Yesterday I found some new stretch marks -thin white lines running parallel to each other like the rungs of a ladder climbing up my outer thigh. My heart sank and my shoulders sagged involuntarily under the weight of yet another imperfection.

I’ve seen a lot of articles and videos lately about women embracing their post-baby bodies. About society learning to respect the body of a woman who has stretched herself around another human life. Who has willingly allowed her own body to be “wrecked” for the sake of another person. These articles and videos urge us to see their sagging breasts and wrinkled bellies as beautiful symbols of strength and sacrifice. I applaud that. It’s beyond time that society honored women, especially mothers, for who they are and what they do instead of making any kind of statements about how their bodies should look.

But every time I read one…

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