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Today was the perfect day for some much needed R&R (reading and relaxation) time. So after watching a few episodes of Bob’s Burger on Netflix, I decided to disconnect and tackle the books that I had gotten in a recent book haul on Amazon. I finished the final chapter of the mystery book that took me a month to read and decided that I would dive into some of the great works Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read Half of a Yellow Sun a few years ago and hadn’t had the opportunity to read any of her work since so I was excited when I got my hands on a copy of “We Should All Be Feminist” that was originally adapted from one of her famous TEDTalks.

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So I found me an awesome sun spot in my room, made me a huge cup of warm chai and prepared to have my life handed to me. Although, I do wish it were a longer read, her words did pack a powerful punch and it was really interesting to see how “feminism” showed itself in so many different ways culturally whether in America or in Nigeria. So in between sips of chai, I found myself with a bulk of yellow stickies making notes and sticking them in between the pages I wanted to read over and over again. Here are six times I got my life, snapped my fingers and let out a “yaaaaasssss” as I read along. Had I been at her TEDTalk, I’d have probably been that one black woman doing that.

“We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likeable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.”

“But by far the worst thing we do to males–by making them feel they have to be hard–is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is. And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller.”

“A Nigerian acquaintance once asked me if I was worried that men would be intimidated by me. I was not worried at all–it had not even occurred to me to be worried, because a man who would be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in.”

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“We use the word respect for something a woman shows a man, but not often for something a man shows a woman. Both men and women will say ‘I did it for peace in my marriage.’ When men say it, it is usually about something they should not be doing anyway. Something they say to their friends in a fondly exasperated way, something that ultimately proves to them their masculinity–‘Oh, my wife said I can’t go to the club every night, so now, for peace in my marriage, I go only on weekends.’ When women say ‘I did it for peace in my marriage,’ it is usually because they have given up a job, a career goal, a dream. We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what a woman is more likely to do.”

“Some people ask why the word ‘feminist?’ Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that? Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general– but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women. That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human. For centuries, the world divided human beings into two groups and then proceeded to exclude and oppress one group. It is only fair that the solution to the problem that should acknowledge that.”

“Some men feel threatened by the idea of feminism. This comes, I think, from the insecurity triggered by how boys are brought up, how their sense of self-worth is diminished if they are not ‘naturally’ in charge as men.”

If you didn’t get your life after reading those quotes, or if you weren’t prompted to get your own copy then I don’t know what else to tell you, but it sparked something in me. She made it a point to make feminism a universal cause. We should literally all be feminist just as we should all read this book!

Next Up: “Americanah”

1401822906000-1395-v3Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. This dieting often transitions into poor eating habits due to under-eating. I recall watching an episode of “The Real” and I was listening to a conversation between Tamara Mowry-Housley and Tamar Braxton about self-esteem and how it starts for children as young as five. For women it can last well up to old age. Think about it, you never see beauty ads and campaigns on “anti-aging” methods and phenomenons targeting men. They’re always targeting women and sometimes we are our own worst enemy. We hate our weight, we hate our stretch marks, we hate that our hair isn’t a certain texture, we hate that our face structure isn’t sharper and the list goes on. With so many movements now geared towards self-love and self-esteem building for women, I thought about the men who love us and what our body image and self-image does to them. I thought about what they thought.

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“I think women stress too much about cleavage and butt not being the “right size.” I’d tell her, just as I have before, you are made just as you should be. And if anything is suppose to look differently then let it happen naturally” ~29

“Definitely their butt. It has gotten so bad that women are willing to get a zillion butt injections. To me its sad. Do I like a nice round curvaceous booty? Yes. But even more I love a woman who is confident in how God already made her.” ~37

“Women stress a lot about their stomachs or guts if you will. Society has painted an image that the flatter the better. But that’s not the case. Although guys may have a preference for the flat belly there are some who prefer bigger women where the gut doesn’t matter. Some guys have no physical preference at all. As long as she’s cool to vibe with. I say love yourself.”~25

“Stretch marks, a few gray hairs, weight gain, etc..what I always say is if you want to change something about yourself or make small improvements, go ahead..but make sure you truly love yourself and know that the right man will see past that and love you regardless”~25

“Personally, I don’t think anything is stressed too much with body image issues expanding and changing with each commercial and movie. I do however think that as long as you are comfortable in your own skin, the rest will take care of itself.”~29

“Some women stress too much about having their make up perfect. Women that I have dealt with in the past would take so much time trying to get the make up perfect that we would miss our reservation at a restaurant. I honest prefer my lady make-up less”~27

Body image is something that I still deal with no matter how sure of myself I may seem. I’ve been battling weight issues all my life and I am finally getting to a place where I am becoming more and more content and focused on being healthy rather than skinny. It’s nice to have some male reassurance from the person you love, but remember that if you can’t find the space to love and care for yourself what someone else offers won’t make much of a difference because body image starts in the mind…it’s start with the way we think.

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In my quest to understand men from men, I stumbled across an article that was headlined as “Pretty Woman’s Face is Like Cocaine to the Male Brain.” I thought about the countless arguments that take place on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram about this created binary that pretty women usually lack intelligence and that smart and intelligent women usually aren’t seen as attractive, but as intimidating to men making them undatable. So I surveyed my think tank of men inquiring about their thoughts on the matter:

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I don’t think it’s rare… Pretty and intelligent are both subject to opinion and personal level of intellect. ~29

Society and the media propagates that pretty girls spend so much time being pretty they aren’t intellectually aware. And the opposite, intelligent girls are always in a book and not using makeup, doing their hair or shopping. Look at some of the original rom-coms. ~30

I think the media is to blame for this. The media is constantly telling us what is “beautiful” and what is “intelligent”. That is a very unusual debate to be having to me because what is intelligent and beautiful varies from person to person and culture to culture. I think everyone has both qualities in their own way. ~27

I look for both! I think it is indeed a “rare” occasion where you find both, but I do know it’s out here. ~28

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You gotta go for the one that’s more mentally stimulating…you’ll recognize the natural beauty in that..physical beauty can eventually wear off. ~25

I asked my Dad why his first marriage didn’t work out. He simply looked at me and asked, “Son, would you share your life and your bed with a beautiful fool?”…I think he was trying to quote Coming to America or something…but still lol ~24

I need that conversation. ~23

I’d definitely have to go with the woman with more brains. You can’t fix that…lol! If her body is okay, then we can work with that as there are plenty of ways to stimulate attraction to the outer appearance, but if she can’t hold a conversation, I can’t get with it. ~27

She’s gotta have good conversation. ~23

I honestly say get what you want. It’s perfectly okay to put both of them in the FRIEND ZONE!!! ~29

I think it’s safe to say that beauty and intelligence are two things that are both relative in the eyes of the beholder. So can a woman be beautiful AND intelligent? Yes, yes she can and it seems that more men prefer her with an arsenal of knowledge.