About Young BW Determined to Live Well

After being a faithful reader of various blogs dedicated to positively influencing black women, I recognized quite a few young black women in their teens, 20's, and 30's who were touched by the message as much as myself. This blog is my attempt to reach out and connect with young black women on issues we may be facing at a very transitional time in our lives. I encourage all, irrespective of age, class, origin, etc. to participate in the discussions and brainstorming sessions we have. I look forward to the potential of this blog and hope to hear from Young Black Women Determined to Live Well like myself!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Images of Black Women in the 50's

While viewing the blog Beautiful Black Women: Thoughts of a White B'woy, I came upon these images. I believe Andreas displayed them as a way of admiring black women as he always does, but the images compelled me to dig deeper and analyze.

Take a look at these pictures of Magazine covers in the 1950s. click on image for full view.

After viewing these pictures I can say quite a few things:

1) Black women were absolutely beautiful back then, and whoever is swallowing the hogwash that says black women are just naturally inclined to be big or overweight or “thick” is wrong. The women in the 50’s did not look like what I see everywhere I go including on the television these days. Here is a tip, work out and get healthy ladies. No if, ands, or buts. Where there is a will, there is always a way. In addition, it says that black women and the lives they are leading need to seriously be further examined. A lot must not be right for an entire group of women to physically morph into double of what used to be their norm, in a span of just 50 years.

2) Black women being shut out from glamorization in Hollywood, usually given to white women, is not a new thing at all. In my opinion, some progress has been made, but I say we (black women) stop trying to get the full recognition and glamour that we deserve all together and create our own avenues of media distribution and films. Either do that, or try to market ourselves in a way that appeals to all markets! Not just black.

3) Black women were sexualized and fetishized in the 50’s much like they are today. Just look at the face of the women on the cover of Say magazine. She has a very sultry look on her face. And then look at how each one of them are exposing their cleavage in revealing suits. I certainly don’t see much emphasis being placed on the bottom like the smut magazines of today, but I do think these magazines were printed with the black male gaze in mind and zero recognition of the black female gaze. So it makes me think? Were these women the predecessors of the Raunch Culture we view today? I suppose we perpetuate it, but were they (both the black women and the black men in the 50’s who subscribed to these magazines) aware of the consequences of what they mass produced? Did they not realize the inherent difference in choosing to market the women in these ways after the long history black women have in the U.S. regarding sexual exploitation? Or was this considered tastefully done? I am not sure but intend to do some research.

4) This makes me think about famous Blues singers of the 1920s like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ida Cox and the like. They were known for their talented voices, but also for the sexually suggestive (or as sexually suggestive as you could get away with in the 50’s) lyrics of their songs. I wonder what, if anything, this did to harm the image of black women back then and today? I am not placing immense blame on them because in some ways I feel they were not aware that black women could occupy a respectable and admirable realm that did not limit her to just the Hattie McDaniel mammy-figure. After all, they were singing for crowds of the black working class. Black women in the upper echelons of black American society did not like the songs they chose to sing.

How do you as a young black woman feel about these images?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I encourage you all to read this!

Hello to all the gorgeous young black women out there! Please take a moment to read the essay I linked to at the bottom. I have been too busy with final exams to post Part 3 of Young Black Women and the Issues We Face, but the arguments in this essay have a great deal to do with what I intend to discuss.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Young Black Women and the Issues We Face: Part 2 of 3

What I am about to discuss is adult material, so if you are not up for reading mature subject matter, you have been warned.

STDs. Sexually Transmitted Diseases are a crap load of stigma on young black women. You all have heard the stats: we, young black women; have the highest rate of infection. First thing is first, before you have sex with anyone, from this day forward, make it a priority to get tested for every possible STD you can. Note*** some women I have encountered have assumed a regular pap-smear would take care of the HPV test, since it is supposed to indicate abnormalities of the cervix, and HPV causes cervical cancer. It is my belief that a woman needs to specifically ask for the HPV test. Several pap-smears come back NORMAL and a woman could still be infected with HPV. It is estimated that 80% of women in the U.S. will get HPV at some point in their lives, and it is in your best interest to educate yourselves regarding the matter. See this website for more info: http://www.thehpvtest.com/

1) STDs can be transmitted through bodily fluids and skin to skin contact. Yea, we have heard the first one, but the skin to skin contact is a shocker for some ladies. Better yet, sometimes the infected party may not show any sign of infection on their skin, and months or years later, one is rudely awakened to know they have acquired an STD. In addition, the usage of a condom, if having sex with a male, does not cover the entire genital area. the shaft of the penis may be covered, but his groin is still exposed and would most likely touch your genitals during the sexual act. This could tranfer an STD to you even while using a condom.
2) Many STDs may not cause symptoms. In fact, you may be confusing an STD for another disease. Doctors have been known to confuse things as well. Simply doing a search of STD photographs on google is not sufficient enough to decipher what is going on down there. Those photographs are often displays of advanced stages of STDs and very rarely show what it looks like for a black female. Let me be clear that a personal Gynecologist should be a necessity for all of the young black women out there. Look up a reputable gynecologist online in your area; check their credentials and reviews if you can. Check with Health Services if you are currently attending a college or university. Sometimes they offer their services for free to female students.
3) Some STDs DO NOT have a test for males to take, like the dreadful Human Papilloma Virus (genital warts). This means that even if the guy a person chooses to have skin to skin contact, oral, anal, or vaginal sex with, is infected with an STD and shows no physical signs of infection, the only way he would know, is if you showed signs of infection after having skin to skin contact, oral, anal, or vaginal sex with him.
4)for the lesbian or bisexual young black women out there, know that skin to skin contact is a risk as well and despite rumors of lesbian women being least likely to contract STDs, this is not the case. In fact, these kinds of rumors contribute to the transfer of STDs even more among the lesbian community. Using sex toys to aid in vaginal or anal penetration from one partner to another, could transfer an STD. If using a condom on the sex toy, be sure to change it when penetrating the other partner. Cunnilingus should be performed using a barrier like a dam, cut open condom, or latex glove. Check out this link for ways to have safer sex with your special female someone: http://std.about.com/od/stdsspecificcommunities/a/lesbiansafesex.htm
you can also find information here: http://lesbianlife.about.com/cs/sex/a/safersex.htm
or do your own search to know more.
5) Want more info in general, here is a place to start: http://www.youngwomenshealth.org/std-general.html or you could simply browse through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Website: http://www.cdc.gov/ . They have a plethora of information on specific STDs

Bottom line: The only real “safe” sex, is no sex at all. But because I like sex, as I am sure other readers of this blog do too, we have to understand, acknowledge and accept that we are taking a risk. Make sure he, she, or you, wears a condom! Carry condoms yourself; you do not have to rely on the other partner for condoms at all. And if a guy or girl thinks you are “fast” or a slut because you are in possession of condoms, then he or she does not deserve to sleep with you. For those of you considering taking your relationships to a more intimate level, why not plan a day when you both go to get tested for everything? It may seem awkward, but your health is all you really have. Doing this forces people to think maturely about the sexual act. If the other party refuses, that may be a blessing in disguise. Know that there are ways of being intimate with someone without having sex. And for all purposes, an intimate night with just you, your imagination, and no one else is always an option. Never feel guilty about the idea or act of masturbating because looking out for our needs first and foremost, is a lesson we should all remember in our quest to live well.

Young Black Women and the Issues We Face: Part 1 of 3

I decided to do a post on a host of issues facing young black women. It became too long, so I am doing this in separate posts. Look for Part 2 and 3 in the very near future.

Moving from the realm of young girl, to young woman, to mature woman is not easy. I personally believe this is compounded by race if you are categorized by society (never mind whatever you choose to identify as) as a black woman. There is no rule book, no guidance being given. This should be coming from older black women but uh…yea…I don’t see much of that happening. It could very well be the case that these women have not figured out the answers either. I want to talk about the position young black women occupy in society. We have things that are considered valuable and things that are wrongfully trashed. Our youth is always a plus; people are forever worshipping youth and trying with their entire might to hang on to it. We have our physical strength, our contemporary knowledge, or degrees; we have A LOT going for us. What we don’t have going for us are our high rates of Sexually transmitted disease infections,our assaulted images in the media and constantly being compared as a negative to the implied white female positive, and for some of us, our way of thinking regarding our race and gender.

Our youth is a major asset ladies. Whether you like it or not, this works for us in ways we may not be aware. Therefore, I believe it serves us well to preserve it as much as we possibly can. I choose to preserve my youth by taking care of myself health wise. I am a very nutritious eater (at least most people I know always say so), it is a part of my daily routine to engage in some form of exercise or physical activity, my hair in its natural state is always on point, but you had better believe that even in it’s relaxed state, I was doing it too. Skin care has never been a major problem for me, but I do have a skin care regimen that I use to help maintain the pretty (for inquiring minds, the skincare line I use is called Rx For Brown skin. I use this line because it is specially formulated for people with various brown complexions and effectively addresses the issues that come with naturally sunkissed skin. Check out their website for more information: http://www.rxforbrownskin.com/ ).

We are quite an educated bunch! I am proud of how far I have come in terms of academically excelling in my studies, and choosing to continue this in the future. I am also increasingly aware of education NOT being the great “equalizer” some people believe it to be, so I try to cultivate myself in other areas as well. This I do through seeking organizations that advocate issues close to me, or that link to what I hope to be doing in the future. For instance, I have a great respect for women’s issues, and politics. Therefore, I seek out organizations that cater to both. I enjoy learning about different cultures and will be living abroad in the coming years; I would in tern subscribe to a newsletter or other network that keeps me up to date on the happenings of that country. There are several sources on the web that can assist you with this or practically anything that really interests you. Take advantage of it!