We are looking forward to showing you what we have in store at The Beautiful Project for the new year. Until then, here’s another #dearblackgirl letter with a powerful message for all of us. Thank you Amberly Carter for sharing your insight and taking up your pen!
Dear Black Girl,
Your mini skirt is not too short. Your pants are not too tight and your shirt is not cut too low. It’s your prerogative! Girls are born into a setting where the culture defends abusive and violent acts against them for the anatomy of their bodies. We’re told to plug it up, shut it up and cover it up because it has been perceived as a distraction for men. Women are threatened that they will be unwanted and unwed based on what they choose to pull out of their closets to cover their vaginas, breasts and booty cheeks. Despite what anyone says, women who wear modest clothes struggle to get married just as much as women who show off their bodies. Unequivocally, society does not tell men that they won’t get married if they don’t pull up their pants and stop saggin’. Furthermore, we’ve accepted that not all men see marriage as their goal, but yet society still push this expected social norm onto all women. Marriage may not be your goal either. Perhaps you hadn’t thought about it much at all before I wrote you this letter. When you do, know that there are non-monogamous ways to be in a healthy relationship. Some of which many people find to be very empowering, just like modesty is empowering to some women and nudity is empowering to others.
When you think about race, gender and sexuality, understand that each has its intersections with the others. You may not be able to experience the privileges of one while being marginalized for the others. Some women, married or otherwise, will try to shame you as a single Black woman into behaving and dressing a certain way out of their own insecurities or internalized sexism. Know that some of those people are just repeating what somebody else told them. Gender norms are taught to us from a young age. Can you remember the first time you were asked if you had a boyfriend? How about the first time you were told to act like a lady? Many of the people enforcing gender roles have not stopped and questioned the origin of their own morals. They should worry about, why they’re worried about, other women’s clothes and behavior. You just focus on developing all of your identities and seek safe and brave spaces that celebrate your whole self.
The world will ask you to be everything you’re not and your soul will be convicted, your heart conflicted. Remember that the world is changed by your example, not your opinion and yet your mere existence is revolutionary. You are enough to change the world. So just. Be. You.
Amberly R. Carter, M.Ed
Amberly Carter is 30 years old from Chicago, Illinois. She is a non-teaching faculty member at the University of Albany in Albany, NY. She is also the cousin of the late Emmett Till and serves as the Director of the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation.