A really good friend once told me, “I take care of myself extremely well. So whoever I’m with has to be just as good to me or better.” Anyone who overheard that conversation might have thought that the beautiful Native sista with the long, flowing hair and carefully crafted earrings was full of herself, but nah. She is the shit, and she knows it.
While we Aries folk can be a little arrogant at times, my fellow Aries sista was just stating facts. She’s one of my (s)heroes, one of my “Mollys”—somebody who’s got my back no matter what. Plus, we have that #BlackandIndigenous bond that makes us accomplices in our social justice journeys. Quite frankly, there was simply audacity in her statement.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, there are two definitions of “audacity.” Audacity can mean “a willingness to take bold risks,” or “rude or disrespectful behavior.” But most of the time, when I’ve heard “audacity” used in reference to a woman, it’s used as in, “This bitch had the audacity to do XYZ.”
The ways in which women are taught to shame not only themselves but also other women about their looks, attitude, style or hair are often rooted in the message that we should be careful not to love ourselves too much, lest we become unacceptable. A woman who is confident in herself is often considered a bitch. A woman who is sexually liberated is often considered a slut. A woman who speaks her mind is often considered aggressive or loudmouthed.
These aren’t new revelations, and I’m not saying anything we haven’t read before. So why are these the persistent messages that we hear about women’s audacity?
When I think about the audacity of a woman loving herself, my mind immediately goes to that classic Erykah Badu song “Booty,” from her 2000 album, Mama’s Gun. While it may seem like a weird choice, for me it speaks to the very essence of a woman with the nerve to say, “I’m better than this, and sis, if you’re better than this, neither of us should mess with this nigga.”
Also, Badu is laying out all the so-called negatives about herself that are in contrast to this “perfect woman on paper.” Badu still contends that she is the shit and she doesn’t have to settle or change for anybody. Badu’s more recent semi-Hotepian revelations aside, if you want to talk about a black woman who has consistently put out unapologetic “I love myself” songs, it’s her.
When a woman is bold enough to love herself, know her worth and dare the world to tell her different, she runs into potential partners who “don’t get it” or are afraid of that power, employers who want to dim that shine, and friends who just want her to “settle.” This can make audacity seem like a lonely place, but the fact is, women who are “unbought and unbossed” love themselves, so swat those haters away and keep it pushing.
The potential partner who can’t deal with your brilliance and badassery just needs to keep on steppin’ ’cause don’t nobody got time for someone who’s insecure. And while the first of the “48 laws of power” is to “Never outshine the master,” the employer who wants to dim your light despite your integrity and good work is not worth working for. And those friends who want you to “settle” because they’ve put an arbitrary timeline on your relationship, work or life goals? They aren’t really your friends—they’re just afraid of all you might accomplish, and wonder if you’ll leave them behind.
The moment my friend said that she takes care of herself extremely well, I began really paying attention to how she takes care of herself. She exercises, eats well, drinks lots of tea and water, takes trips, spoils herself with gifts, listens to lots of good music and allows the Universe to guide her on her path.
Most important, she gets out of her own way daily. It’s not that she doesn’t hurt or experience anger, sadness or frustration; she just lets herself feel all of those things and then gives it up to her journey. She always says that whatever path she’s on is the path she’s supposed to be on. She’s not magical; she just has the courage to love herself deeply, truly and fully. Who does she think she is? She’s a badass chick, that’s who.
As we near the end of Women’s History Month, I feel as if we need to pledge to love ourselves deeply, truly and fully because there is power in that audacity. And it’s a power that we not only need to cultivate in ourselves but also encourage in our female friends and family.
Because it’s not saditty to know you’re “the shit.” It’s disrespectful to the Universe to not acknowledge your power.