Why are Women So Pressed to be Married?

PRESSED FOR MARRIAGE


I was at a social gathering last night with a group of young, black women. Most were in this group called “Pinky Promise,” a new movement out there to stay pure before God in EVERY single way. The purpose of this movement and the different groups that have formed because of it seem like a good idea from what I could see. Yet, there was something that kind of threw me off.

During the evening’s discussion, the subject of men (of course) arose. One of the women looked around the room and asked, “Does everyone in here pretty much desire to be married?” Mostly every girl nodded yes (besides me and another girl who said, “Not anytime soon.”). And as the conversation continued, the topics of husbands, and “the man God has for you,” and waiting and being patient were on full blast. As I observed those in the room, I got an overwhelming sense of “I want to be married!” Even as I talked one-on-one with one of the ladies, she also noted how the focus seemed to be on getting a husband, which was not what she expected.

After telling my older (and married) cousin about my experience, she asked me a very good question: “Did you ask these ladies why they desire to be married so much?”

And although it was in my head (and obviously influenced this post), I never thought to simply ask the women why?

Why is it that women desire to be married so much? The entire group was black, and this also made me wonder, is this more of a focus for black women? Or does every woman have such a strong desire to be married?

Take me, for instance; I certainly want to be married one day because, as a Christian, I do believe this is just one aspect of God’s plan and purpose for my life. He designed marriage and I do believe in the long run He created men and women to ultimately enter into a marriage covenant (for multiple reasons). Like any other gal, I want a life-long partner and a beautiful relationship, but it’s not a pressing desire for me. It doesn’t consume my thoughts nor do I focus on it day in and day out.

Now, we should take into consideration that I’m currently in a relationship, and these women, from what they were saying, are not. So, in fairness, I thought, “Well, perhaps I’m not as focused on being married now or getting a husband because I have someone.” Yet, I think about my close friend who is single. She also desires to be married one day, but unlike the women last night, she doesn’t have this sense of urgency or feel like she needs and wants to meet her hubby-to-be right now. Even when I was single, which was FOREVER, this wasn’t my sole focus.

The topic made me think about something my pastor’s wife said one day. She said, “99.9 percent of women want to be married, yet only 50 percent want to be a wife.” That’s real.

I wonder if, in their longings for husbands and wife titles, women really take the time to consider what it means to be married? What it really means to be a wife?

I know God checked me about this very same thing awhile ago. My friend pointed out to me that whenever I’d talk about marriage, I’d usually only talk about my wedding. “It’s going to be this” and “I want to have that” yet I rarely spoke about actual marriage. And the Lord quickly opened my eyes to the true definition of marriage and being a wife—cause it’s not at all about a special day or a title. For so long, I didn’t know what being a wife and entering into a marriage covenant really meant, and I wonder if the same is true for so many women who are searching for husbands right now.

No one wants to be lonely; I get that. Yet, marriage is (and will be) so much more. Do we think about commitment? Do we think about serving our husbands, even when we don’t feel like it? Do we think about making sacrifices and being selfless? Even seemingly small things like visiting relatives on holidays. Perhaps you really enjoy being with your family on Christmas, but in marriage, you may have to spend plenty of Christmases away from your loved ones and be with your husband’s side, especially if they live in different states. Do we consider that? Do we think about permanently sharing our space with someone else? Learning to live and interact with another person EVERY DAY? Mixing different living styles, likes and dislikes, ideas and opinions, backgrounds and upbringings: Do we think about these things?

Even more, what about when the lovey-dovey stage fades away? What about when you can’t stand your spouse? Or things start to feel routine? Or, God forbid, offenses come (and they will come)? Do we think about forgiveness? And moving past hurts and pains?

I think that in a society filled with slim pickings—men who don’t date black women, are on the DL, bisexual, playing games, are immature, and/or don’t have any goals or ambition—we as women can start to feel desperate, even at such young ages (the women in this group were 24-25). We see a lack of quality “good men” and it creates this sense of urgency in us to have something we 1) truly don’t understand enough about and 2) most often times are not even ready for. I mean, if when referring to marriage all I used to focus on was my wedding dress or venue, it’s clear to see I had no idea what marriage truly is and wasn’t ready.

No one will ever be 100 percent ready for marriage because, obviously, there are some things about marriage one can only learn in marriage. To every woman that longs to be married and snag that husband, I think you should take the time to make sure you fully understand what you think you desire. As they say, be careful what you wish for, and you don’t want to wish for a role your mindset, maturity level and character aren’t fully developed for yet.
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BIO
Service is her passion, writing is her platform, uplifting women and the Black Community is her purpose. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Through her work, Marks aspires to demonstrate “The Craft of Writing, and the Art of Efficacy.” She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Connect with her at: http://shalamarks.com/.

Is Your Man Cheating with Another Man a Deal Breaker?

DOWN LOW CHEATS

Unfortunately, infidelity is a HUGE problem in many relationships nowadays, in and out of marriage. For some reason, at one point or another, many people experience a cheating partner/spouse and are left wondering what to do.

This topic is very interesting to me because as I continue to grow and learn, God is showing me:
1) As a human, I have a limited amount of knowledge
AND
2) I don’t know everything I think I do

Now, why at the mere age of 23 I believed I had a handle on this thing called life is beyond me. When it came to dating, relationships, infidelity, etc. I just knew my beliefs were right. But again, like any good and loving Father, God has been showing me, “You really don’t know anything.”

Take our topic of infidelity: I used to put cheating into a one-size-fits all category. A+B=C, i.e. a mate/partner + cheating/cheated= end of relationship. I had my mind made up that if a person loved you 1) he/she would never be unfaithful and 2) if the person did the relationship should immediately be terminated because he/she clearly demonstrated your value (or lack thereof) in the person’s life. There were no ifs, ands, or buts; cheating was a black-and-white issue with me.

Oh, the mind of the young, naïve and inexperienced!

There I was, a young woman believing I had the “formula” for relationships 1) having never experienced really bad things with men and 2) having only been in one, what you can classify as, “real” committed relationship. I’ve heard stories from family and friends about how badly men have dogged and played them, and though I’ve had a few eye openers and learned lessons, I honestly had never really had my heart broken or have been betrayed or hurt by a man I loved and trusted. How did I think I knew it all never having walked in the “bad relationships” shoes before? You see the error in my ways? Thank God for correction!

I’ve come to learn that cheating is not a black-and-white issue nor does it have a universal solution. A + B doesn’t always equal C, but it’s more like the product of A +B is going to differ from person to person, situation to situation, and relationship to relationship. Because cheating can have varying degrees, and therefore, varying levels of how it’s viewed and handled. Here are a few real-life examples that have helped recently open my eyes:

Example #1
Girl dates boy off and on for the past seven years. Girl and boy have a falling out (not a breakup). Boy cheats on girl by having sex with another girl. Yet, in the past, Girl became emotionally attached to other men.

Example #2
After a 4-year relationship and talks of marriage, Boy confesses to Girl that during the first two years of their relationship he was unfaithful; yet since confessing his sin and moving forward with God, he has been 100 percent faithful every since.

Example #3
Wife is very busy in professional school working toward degree. Husband feels neglected and finds sexual comfort in another woman.

Example #4
Husband comes home late every night and doesn’t want to make love to Wife anymore. After investigating, Wife discovers Husband in bed with another man.

You see how different each situation is? And these are all just basic outlines; each has details that make the situations much more complicated. And as I keep hearing about infidelity more and more, whether it be in general or from loved ones, I’ve begun to wonder if cheating is/ should really be a deal breaker like I had always thought?

Ladies, I want to specifically ask your opinion about the last example because this is becoming a prevalent issue in society. You wouldn’t believe the number of men I’ve heard about or come into contact with who are “experimenting.” The recent Mister Cee scandal is a perfect example. These men, out of curiosity they say, are doing sexual things with other men…just “experimenting.” They don’t think they’re gay; they just want to “try it out.”

And now so many women are left confused because if being cheated on and having your trust betrayed isn’t bad enough, now you’re throwing a whole different ball into the game. I mean, I’ve always imagined how hurt and in shock I’d be if my man was ever unfaithful, but if he was unfaithful with another man? Wow.

So, in the spirit of stepping back, being more open minded, and embracing that fact that I am still learning and don’t know everything, I really want to know your take on this ladies. Is cheating an end all? Is it truly once a cheater always a cheater? Or does everyone deserve a second chance?

And to take it a step further, does the “degree” of the indiscretion influence your reaction to infidelity? Would you, as a woman, feel the same way about your man cheating on you with a man as you would him cheating on you with another woman? Is cheating cheating, no matter what? Or are some cases worse than others?

After seeing this issue of supposed heterosexual men cheating on women with other men arise so much lately, it definitely made me question my response if ever in this situation. Maybe I’m not fully there yet, but I can be honest and say that for me it would definitely be different than if it were a female; and it would most certainly be a deal breaker—no questions asked. What about all of you?

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BIO
Service is her passion, writing is her platform, uplifting women and the Black Community is her purpose. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Through her work, Marks aspires to demonstrate “The Craft of Writing, and the Art of Efficacy.” She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Connect with her at: http://shalamarks.com/.

One Sista Launches her Own Website

Shala Marks

Hey Sistas (and Brothas),

Many of you may have read my articles on BrownSista.com, but allow me to formally introduce myself: My name is Shala Marks, a 23-year-old recent college graduate who loves writing, women and the Black Community. I love the Lord, I love helping others, and despite its unpopularity, I love (and take immense pride in) exactly who I am: A Black woman, no ifs, ands, or buts.

I aspire to make a difference in society’s mindset (which ultimately affects its actions), and written communication is my platform. We’re living with an ignorance epidemic; our world is plagued by certain societal and psychological “diseases” that continue to eat away at so many people’s minds, which affect their perspectives and treatment of themselves and others. I’m very passionate about motives and getting to the root of why we do the things we do because I’m convinced that the only way to make a lasting change is by tracing society’s issues back to the source—not solely treating the symptoms and side effects. And I’m most passionate about doing this with issues related to women (specifically Black women) and the Black Community.

Why?

Well, besides me believing wholeheartedly that God gave me these desires, I am Black and I am a woman—and if I don’t work to better the groups where I hold membership(s), who will?

I love words; I love language and I believe in the power of both, especially when used in the proper form. I regularly contribute to a couple websites and am currently working to get my first fictional novel published expressing themes of women, self-identity and “The One.”

I want to thank each and every one of you for reading my stories on this site, and am now proud to introduce my very own website showcasing my writings and, well….me! My site is www.shalamarks.com; please stop by whenever you have a moment and check me out! It’s a work in progress, so I am open to and welcome any feedback and constructive criticism.

Again, thank you for supporting me on BrownSista and I look forward to your continued readership not only on this fabulous online magazine site, but now on my personal website.

Be blessed,
Shala Marks
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BIO
Service is her passion, writing is her platform, uplifting women and the Black Community is her purpose. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Through her work, Marks aspires to demonstrate “The Craft of Writing, and the Art of Efficacy.” She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Connect with her at shalamarks.com.

Why You Need to See “Fruitvale Station”

FRUITVALE STATION

I saw the award-winning movie “Fruitvale Station” today. For anyone not familiar, the film is about the last 24 hours of Oscar Grant’s life, a 22-year-old black male who was shot and killed by a white Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer in the early morning of January 1, 2009.

I won’t give any spoilers in case you haven’t seen it, but I will say it’s a must see for two reasons.

The director is Ryan Coogler, a 27-year-old black male (who has quite an inspiring story of his own) and a few things he said about the film and the reason he decided to direct this particular story can sum up just why everyone needs to watch this movie much better than my own words:

Reason #1
From an article on Buzzfeed.com:
“So I hope that people who never knew anything about Oscar, or don’t know people like Oscar, or don’t come in contact with young male African-Americans on a personal basis [see it]. So often, those are the people that are making the policies that affect those people, those are the people that are given a badge and gun and told to protect those people,” Coogler continues, highlighting years of entrenched disconnect. “So often those are the people that are called to juries, people whose their only contact with [African-Americans] is through the media, going to see a movie. So I hope people see this film and spend time with this guy and realize they’re just like us.”

Coogler hit the head on the nail. The men and women who hold the majority of power in this country; the ones who make policies that govern the way we live; the ones who are supposed to create programs to support us; the ones who are supposed to represent us and our needs; and the ones who are supposed to educate us (school wise)…do NOT know us.

They see images in the media and, if they have no other experience with us to go on, those images become who we are to them. Black women become loud, ghetto, gold-digging and angry who all have “ghetto booties” and wear weave.

Black men become violent thugs who wear chains and gold teeth; men who always abandon their families and do nothing but sell (and do) drugs. Now sistas, just like me, I’m sure you know plenty of Black men and women who are the total opposite of the above. Yet, if those outside our community have never had any real experiences interacting with Blacks, don’t personally know any of us (or have even tried to get to know us), their perspectives can unfortunately be shaped by inaccurate information. Not every Black woman is loud and not every Black man sells drugs. And, pertaining to Oscar Grant and even Trayvon Martin, not every Black male who wears a hoodie and might have a criminal record (especially at such a young age) is a thug who deserved to die.

Like Coogler stated, as I watched the movie, I prayed people of all races would watch this film (and more Black-related films) to see that, though different in our makeup, we are humans just like them.

I believe Coogler’s representation was fair; he didn’t put Grant on a pedestal and portray him as a saint. He was real. He had ups and downs, made good and bad choices, just as we all do, regardless of the shade of our skin. Those who aren’t in our community need to understand that, because you cannot fully and fairly protect, support, represent and serve a group of people you know nothing about.

Reason #2
From an interview on IndieWire:
“I had a need to speak to things we deal with on a day-to-day basis. So few get our stories told by us. I knew I had an inherent responsibility to show things we struggle with every day, things that are good in our lives, the human relationships we have with people we love, with our kids. Because that is not often shown in the media, it often leads to issues where we are not seen as full human beings.”

When someone else is telling our story, they can tell it through their eyes and perspective…not ours. And the cases of others outside our community who even want to tell our stories and shine the light on Black life are rare.

Black people need to watch this movie and read Coogler’s story because we need more to follow in his footsteps. We need voices for our community to tell our stories, highlight our accomplishments and portray us accurately.

Think about it: You know how magazines (and TV) always come up with these “the most beautiful” lists? And you know how the majority of the faces are white? Why?

Because the people who are in control of these industries are going to represent themselves and those a part of their communities how they want to. And if a white man believes blonde hair, blue eyes and pale skin constitute the most attractive features in a woman, those are what you’ll see on the TV screen and magazine covers.

There’s a new romantic film every other month solely about a white couple, yet “Love & Basketball” and even “Think Like A Man” are only a handful. Why? Because whites see love in their community and want that image portrayed. I know many married Black couples (and a great deal who have been married for years), but to look at the media you wouldn’t know this existed. No one is going to tell our story.

Whether it’s film, or art, education or fashion, it doesn’t matter what you’re passions and gifts are. I simply urge you to pursue them because we need more Black people accurately representing us and telling our stories. Even if you’re not passionate about focusing solely on Black issues, that’s okay. The fact that just one more successful Black man and/or woman can be added to our roster is powerful for our community. We need more of us representing us—whether that be through you writing the story or you being the person the story is written about.

Sistas we need more Ryan Cooglers, more men and women like us, for us and using their gifts and talents to help better us and our community.

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BIO
Service is her passion, writing is her platform, uplifting women and the Black Community is her purpose. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Through her work, Marks aspires to demonstrate “The Craft of Writing, and the Art of Efficacy.” She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Connect with her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shala.marks
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/shalamarks

What Do We Do Now?

TRAYVON MARTIN AND FATHER

Dear Black Community,

Remember this date of July 13, 2013.

Remember this day almost after three decades after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and her right to equality; remember this day 50 years after Martin Luther King proclaimed, “I Have  a Dream” to thousands in front of the Lincoln Memorial; and please, remember this day after just five short years ago America elected its first African-American president.

Remember this day where our judicial system found George Zimmerman, the 29-year-old former neighborhood watch captain, NOT GUILTY ON ALL CHARGES for killing an unarmed 17-year-old black male child, Trayvon Martin. Please, remember this day.

When that jury read the statement of its conclusion, it also offered a few shocking, scary and detrimental “facts” to not only the Black Community, but our nation as a whole:

1. Under this Stand Your Ground Law, a person may kill an unarmed child in “self defense,” even if he or she initiated the supposed “life threatening” occurrence with said child. And this person will most often win because it’s his/her word against someone who is now deceased.

The non-emergency call tapes clearly show that Zimmerman was told he did not need to follow Trayvon Martin. Now if you want to believe that this “concerned citizen” who had been rejected to join a police force willingly complied with the dispatcher’s request and returned to his vehicle, that’s on you. Any fool can see Zimmerman took matters into his own hands, following Trayvon and, therefore, initiating any future confrontation(s). The court just told America today that you can get into a scuffle with someone; have no serious injuries whatsoever to support your (I feared for my life) claims; shoot and kill the person; claim self-defense; and win because your word is now fact compared to the silence of a corpse.

2. Racial profiling is acceptable. It is perfectly okay to deem a dark-skinned person (especially male) wearing a hoody as someone who looks like “he’s up to no good” and who is “on drugs or something.”

These were Zimmerman’s exact words. He did not know Trayvon from Adam, yet looking at his attire on a dark, rainy night, he could conclude this? How so? Because, Martin was black, male and wearing a hoodie, which we all know is what every thug wears. And we all know black people, especially black men, are all thugs who use drugs and are up to no good when they’re walking through a neighborhood the latest statistic tells us they cannot possibly afford to live in.

3. The lives and rights of Black people (especially males) are inferior.

Case in point: Michael Vick. He served 21 months in prison for fighting dogs…DOGS. Yet, Zimmerman can openly shoot and kill a human being, and that very same night the bullet from his gun took Trayvon’s life, he is sleeping in the warm and comfort of his own bed, in his own home? In America, I can put two animals against each other and go to prison, but if I kill a little black boy? Oh, we’re not even going to arrest you for that. Of course it was self defense; of course we (the Sanford Police Dept.) have no other reason not to believe your story.

My brothers and sisters, we have to wake up. If what happened today isn’t an eye opener for our community, I don’t know what is. Trayvon Martin is just one of many and an example of what can be the norm and routine in our nation’s future thinking.

Understand what happened here: A young, black kid wearing a hoodie was walking home and was murdered. What is America telling us? I can look the “wrong way” to someone and, just like that, he/she can end my life. All because of how the person thought I looked and associated this with my character. We have to wake up family!

Our community is so focused on having swag, rocking the latest style, looking a certain way, chasing this paper, and having these pseudo titles behind our names thinking once we obtain these things we’re #winning.

No, black people, we are losing—and terribly.

Racism is systematic. It is when one group has the authority and influence to control institutions to systematically oppress another group. Blacks (and minorities in general) are a speck in the sea of those in positions of authority in this country. We represent a small dot on the immense canvas of those who govern how our nation operates. We will never be able to make a lasting difference and true change if we don’t stop focusing on this false sense of success, and start focusing on educating ourselves and putting our people in true positions of authority to create change for us.

Say what you want, but as popular as the Beyonces and Jay Zs are, they still aren’t in the authoritative positions to affect policies. Sure, Jamie Foxx, the Miami Heat team, and countless other celebrities can physically support the injustice of this Trayvon Martin case, but look at the verdict. It makes no difference if superstars outside of our judicial system bring awareness to an issue if our judicial system is still controlled and operated by the select few it was designed to protect.

Just look at history: Emmit Till’s murder caused an uproar and the two white men were finally put on trial for murdering a black boy. Finally. And speaking out against their crime was a direct result of that. But, look at the outcome. You had an all white jury and a white judge who let those men walk free even when all the evidence pointed to their guilt.

Fast forward to this trial. Global Grind wrote an article about the jurors, who were all white and Hispanic. Well, isn’t that convenient that no one on the jury represented Martin’s race, but Zimmerman’s (when his doctor testified, she said he marked “white” on his records). The majority of the jurors were described as middle-aged or older white women. Another convenience.

And people claimed, “Oh most of the jurors are mothers” thinking that meant something. Please remember that mothers also spit on blacks; called them niggers; protested against the Little Rock Nine as they tried to walk into school; and supported their husbands as they burned crosses in Blacks’ yards while lynching black men, women and children.

Please, please wake up Black people! Cases like this are going to continue to happen and this country and its judicial system is going to continue to defend, protect and benefit whomever it pleases as long as we operate under it instead of within it.

So, Zimmerman got off for killing a black boy; what do we do now? Where do we go from here?

Some people have already started protesting in various cities, and there’s even a NAACP petition o file civil charges, but what’s next?

Family, the nation we live in; the one our men and women defend today; the one that was built on the backs of our ancestors just sent us a message today. And so did this system we pledge allegiance to:

America’s system will benefit a select few and it will decide who that constitutes. You do not make that decision.

So, again I ask, what are you going to do?

BIO

Service is her passion; writing is her platform; uplifting women and the Black Community is her purpose. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Through her work, Marks aspires to demonstrate “The Craft of Writing, and the Art of Efficacy.” She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Connect with her at www.sisterscanwespeak.tumblr.com.

 

The High Cost of Butt Injections

BUTT INJECTIONS

Butt Injections: Ladies, It’s Just Not Worth It

I recently came across the story below and had to do a double take after reading the headline:

Woman undergoes quadruple amputation after black market silicone butt injections

Quadruple amputation? Although this unfortunate story is about one month old, its message is timeless, especially for the state of so many women today.

And the story goes…

After receiving black-market silicone butt injections, Apryl Michelle Brown, 46, had to have both her hands, both her feet and her buttocks amputated.

Brown said she always wanted to enhance her butt because she was teased as a child for having a “pancake” bottom.
In 2004, two ladies visited her hair salon, one revealing that she ran “pumping parties” where an unqualified practitioner injects illegal silicone into someone’s body at his/her home.

“I remember thinking it was a miracle she’d walked into my life. Her friend showed me the work she’d had done and it looked great,” Brown said. “In a split second I made the decision that I was going to go to this woman and let her inject silicone into my behind.”

Brown paid this unlicensed woman around $850 for two injections; the injections turned out to be industrial-grade silicone, i.e. the sealant you can find at any hardware store.

According to the article, the skin on Brown’s buttocks hardened and blackened, yet she was too ashamed to seek medical help. Finally, after much pain, she sought help only for her doctors to tell her it was too dangerous to remove the silicone.

She lived in agonizing pain for the next four years, and almost died in 2011 after an unsuccessful surgery. Her doctors put her in a two-month coma as they performed 27 different surgeries, removing her buttocks. Gangrene spread to her hands and feet, causing Brown to lose those as well.

*A “ray of sunshine” in this tragic story is that after six months in the hospital, much pain and extensive training, Brown completed a three-mile walk, ten-mile cycle and a 150-meter swim.*

Ladies, again, it’s JUST NOT WORTH IT. I understand that Brown didn’t do her research and went to an unlicensed “doctor.” But, what is the underlying issue here? What even pushed her to do such a crazy, life-threatening, and ultimately, life changing thing?

It’s the same reason Kelly Rowland and countless other female celebs got breast implants.

The cause of former Miss Argentina Solange Magnan’s butt implants ultimately taking her life.

And it’s the biggest factor in why breast implants are the no.2 surgery worldwide, with more than 300,000 performed in 2011 in the U.S. alone.

Sistas, I present to you the clever, well-hidden, subtle but monumental with its affects—inadequacy.
Women don’t feel…enough.

Good enough.
Pretty enough.
Smart enough.
Capable enough.
Worthy enough.

So we constantly search for ways to make ourselves “adequate,” i.e. sufficient, equal, standard (or above), accepted, ENOUGH.

We can face pressure from men, other women, our families, the industries where we work (or desire to), media outlets…so many areas of society.

Yet, when it comes down to it it’s still up to us to decide whether or not we will accept that “you are not good enough because XYZ” or if we will define good enough for ourselves.

Apryl Brown’s story is so disheartening, but she’s just one of many. My junior year of college a former friend from high school confessed that she was about to get breast implants the following week. She’d been working like crazy to save extra money and was excited to finally get the work done. I pleaded with her to rethink the decision, explaining that physical enhancements will and cannot ever cure a distorted, imbalanced, and broken heart and mindset.

Her defense: “I’ve always been self-conscious about how small my breasts are and just feel like implants will help me finally love and accept myself. Nothing anyone can say or do will change my mind.”

Ladies, you can find my friend’s mindset across every race, age, education level and economic status. We have to take a stand.

Instead of just talking (and writing) about this issue, let’s allow our voices and message to be “heard” and seen through our actions. Do not conform.

If an untamed afro is fly to you, wear it proudly. Or you have a thinner athletic build, wear clothes to accentuate your body type (I know many skinny women who feel they’re aren’t shapely enough to pull off leggings).

Just because a man, the TV or some popular celeb says “this is acceptable, that is not” doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because big butts are the latest trend doesn’t mean you need to be a follower (if you don’t have one); be a trendsetter. And if you do have some junk in the trunk, rock it proudly because it’s how God made you, not because of how society tells you to feel about it.

So many women are undergoing these surgeries with hopes they’ll come out better. But let me tell you, the confidence that shines through the mindset of an au naturel woman who fully embraces herself and defines everything for herself is much better than the insecurity hiding behind silicone breasts, injection-filled butts, and photoshopped-no-real-woman-looks-like-this skin.

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BIO
Service is her passion, writing is her platform, women and the Black Community are her avenues. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Through her work, Marks aspires to demonstrate “The Craft of Writing, and the Art of Efficacy.” She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Connect with her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shala.marks
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/shalamarks

Why Can’t Black Women be Friends?

SISTA FRIENDS

I was talking with a few new female acquaintances the other day and an interesting issue surfaced. It seems that there’s a common problem black women face— other black women.

The first woman explained how difficult it seemed to be for her to meet “genuine” girlfriends, even after living in a new city for the past year. She’d noticed the women she ran into had ulterior motives, i.e. they only invited her out to “size her up” and determine whether or not she was worthy to be a part of their group—was she “too pretty” and going to get all the attention? Too intelligent? Dressed better than the others? Apparently, she wasn’t worthy.

The second woman was dealing with the issue of status. The black women at her job were all in a clique and felt like they were “it.” They were the best, the baddest, and anyone who was anyone associated themselves with these ladies. So, here comes woman two grinding, working her butt off and making connections. She networks and quickly builds an impressive clientele. Yet, instead of embracing this new sista, the clique quickly tries to bring her down, wondering how and why she could be so successful without them. Who does she think she is? She hasn’t even been here that long; how is she getting those types of clients? She aint even all that!

Now, maybe you’re like me and thinking, perhaps this cattiness only comes with a certain age group of black women—the older the more mature, right? Wrong. One of the ladies was 23, the other over 30 and, sadly, I’ve heard of this same issue affecting women of all ages in between.

Why is it so difficult nowadays for black women to befriend one another? I have black female friends, but I’m certainly no stranger to the “side eye.” You know the one: where another sista (who doesn’t even know you) looks you up and down as you pass by, or, for whatever reason, keeps glancing back at you with that stank face.

It’s really disheartening.

So, the ladies and I continued chatting about why we think this happens so much. Why do black women often treat one another as less than a sista and more like a threat?

My first guess? Men. You see, most women are looking to “get chosen” (as my best friend would say). If we don’t have a man, we ultimately want one. We want to get picked, to be the ultimate victor from the plethora of other options. So, other women, especially attractive, become competition. Unfortunately, we give men too much power.

One of the ladies had a different, but valid and much more accurate perspective: It’s not that we give men too much power, it’s the fact that we don’t realize we do. Women have the power, the lady said. We don’t have to allow a man’s opinion on who we are and how we should look control our thoughts and actions, yet many of us unknowingly turn this over to them so easily—and often, it starts at a young age.

If I see a beautiful black woman, hair laid like nobody’s business, intelligent and “got her own,” I don’t have to perceive her as a threat to who I am as a woman. Her attractiveness, her style, and her intellect doesn’t lessen that of my own, no matter if the fellas prefer her or not.

Just because it’s common for black men to say their preference is “red bones” doesn’t mean you gotta’ roll your eyes at every lightskinned girl. Don’t give them your power.

So what if the men run after the “thicka than a snicka” ladies and look past your slim frame. No need to go around calling all the thick girls fat. Don’t give them your power.

I’m reading “Understanding the Purpose and Power of Women” by Dr. Myles Monroe and he writes, “I am in control of whose opinions are important.” Ladies, we are in control.

If you define what is beautiful, intelligent and acceptable to you, you’ll be confident in yourself and what you bring to the table. Your perspective won’t be jaded and influenced by that of men, others or society in general. In turn, you’ll find it that much easier (and refreshing) to replace “hate” with “congratulate” when you see a sista, one of your own, on her A game. Contrary to popular belief, it actually feels good to give credit where credit is due and uplift another woman.

In a society that works so hard to bring the black woman down, shouldn’t we at least be able to depend on one another for support and encouragement? Many of us experience the same fight and the same struggles. It’s time we stop acting like enemies and more like the “sistas” we claim to be.

Share your thoughts, ladies. Have you had a difficult time befriending other black women?

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BIO
Service is her passion, writing is her platform, women and the Black Community are her avenues. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Through her work, Marks aspires to demonstrate “The Craft of Writing, and the Art of Efficacy.” She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Connect with her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shala.marks
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/shalamarks

The Slap Heard Around the World

FAN SLAPS BEYONCE ON THE FANNY

I heard about a crazy story while listening to the radio this morning. Apparently during her show in Denmark this past Monday, a fan decided to slap Beyonce’s butt.

Yes, you read that right. People are really losing their minds nowadays.

The story goes…

Beyonce was performing “Irreplaceable” at the Forum in Copenhagen. As is pretty routine for her concerts, Beyonce interacted with fans, holding the mic to audience members. One fan took his “interaction” too far.

After holding the mic out for him to horribly sing, “To the left, to the left,” Beyonce began walking away only to have the man immediately slap her butt. She quickly turned around and “checked him” saying, “I will have you escorted out of here, now. Alright?”

I decided to do a little digging to see what other news outlets would have to say about the incident, and boy did I find a mouthful—from the readers, that is.

Although a lot of people expressed disgust and outrage at this man’s boldness, a good portion of others had a different view. Check out some of the comments I found on one article:

Black Heisenburg: When you dress and act like a hooker, why be surprised you are treated as one.

RubyToday: hmm…so you act like a ho on stage then get offended when called out…hmm

stepintothelight: If it walks like a ho and jiggles like a ho … then it get’s spanked like a ho!

cherylhaass: She laughed when he slapped her. She dresses like that, she works them up, and puts herself out there within reach of the men; I’d say she should EXPECT that! Isn’t that what they are there for? To worship her “sexiness”

Rebeccascott: Well maybe Mrs. Carter should not be tooting that booty out all the time and maybe that big ol’ apple bottom won’t be such a temptation to the hungry males present at her strip shows.

Now, looking at some of the usernames (and a few had actual photos), I can conclude that a lot of comments were made by women. Just disappointing.

Sistas, bear with me as I step on my soap box for a few minutes:

Point #1
It is NEVER okay for a man to put his hands on any woman without her permission. How disrespectful can some people be? Touching a woman “intimately” (or in a private place) like that without her say so is ridiculous and rude. Who did that fan think he was? He didn’t even know Beyonce; how dare he feel he has the right to slap her behind like that.

I’m not going to go on some rant about throw him in jail, charge him with sexual abuse, etc. I know celebrities have to unfortunately deal with fans doing wild, inappropriate things geared toward them all the time. And obviously if Beyonce wanted to handle the situation in a different way she would have, but she was classy, yet firm with someone who I’m sure (well I hope) was just an overzealous fan.

My point is, ladies, let’s be aware of how some men think and operate and not tolerate it. Some men do believe it’s okay for them to touch and feel on a woman’s body at his will like her body is an object or belongs to him. No sir.

Sistas, let em’ know that this behavior is unacceptable and let’s teach our young girls the same. I know when I was in middle and high school, guys slapped random girls’ butts all the time. You were “cute” and “desirable” if a guy slapped your behind, and don’t let him be popular and attractive? Oh, you were definitely something.

This is stinkin’ thinkin’. I had my butt slapped a number of times and my response was dictated by just who the perpetrator was. A cute boy I secretly liked? That’s okay, even funny and “cool.” An ugly, trying-to-get-with-anything-with-legs boy? I would go off on him in a minute.

Thank God I grew out of that, but unfortunately a lot of girls (and women) still have this mindset. Our bodies are not objects and they’re not open for public use. Make sure the fellas remember that.

Point #2
Why because Beyonce wore a sparkling blue catsuit that accentuated her curves did she “deserve” to be violated? Why does her performance attire equate to her being a ho?

Now, musically, I’m not a big Beyonce fan anymore, but I’ve seen her stage costumes. So, because she wears a lot of onesies and tight clothes as she performs, it’s okay for any man to just touch her body?

While I certainly do agree with the idea that how you carry yourself affects what type of men you attract (to an extent), I also believe context plays a major role in all of this. Beyonce is a singer and performer. Her outfits on stage are costumes and support and enhance her act. Many may argue that her getups do associate a certain “image” with the singer, but even that doesn’t give men permission to touch her whenever and wherever they so choose. Just like point number one: I don’t care how a woman is dressed, a man doesn’t own her body and should not feel he can put his hands on her when he desires. People are human beings, suit and tie or freakum dress and pumps. Respect them and their bodies as such.

I’m stepping off my soapbox, ladies. Anyone else wanna’ take the stand?

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BIO
Service is her passion, writing is her platform, women and the Black Community are her avenues. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Through her work, Marks aspires to demonstrate “The Craft of Writing, and the Art of Efficacy.” She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Connect with her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shala.marks
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/shalamarks