Dear Brown Girl

This post is for all the women who look at themselves in the mirror with doubt, hide their pain, and question their self-worth. I am speaking directly to you in hopes that I may reach the deepest part of your spirit that has ever been crushed, dampened or bruised. Though you may struggle to see your worth at times, I see you and I value you. Others may confuse your tone and tenacity for anger or become intimidated by your drive, but I beckon you to come out from the shadows.

I see your dried-up tears and false bravado. I want so badly to ask you who are you trying to be so brave for? Is it for society that has forced you to wear that “S” on your chest or is it because of your community that encourages you to hide behind that smile. The concept of the “Strong Black Woman” surfaced as a response to negative images surrounding womanhood and has allowed Black women to rewrite their narrative and cast themselves in a positive light. The Strong Black Woman is resilient, able to handle more stress than the average person, self-reliant, controlled, successful with a strong work ethic, and takes on tasks that seem impossible.

In either case, I must set the record straight. While I agree that you are amazing, powerful, precious, and a sight to behold the one thing that you are not is superwoman. It is important for you and others to know that you are only a woman. A woman that has limits, gets tired, needs a break, and has to rest. As women we often forget to stop and breathe. It could be due to the false misconception of others that we don’t need to or because we feel as though we don’t have time to. Honestly, it would be easy to fill our calendars with things to do, but rarely do we schedule time for ourselves. This becomes cause for alarm as research shows that when the concept is internalized feelings of shame, guilt, low self-esteem, and depression are likely to follow when women don’t live up to this expectation. While the idea of the Strong Black Woman serves a significant purpose to empower and uplift, it can also be detrimental. This concept does not allow women to be vulnerable or admit when they are in distress. Women often do not feel as if they are able to say no when the burden is too much and may be denied permission to feel a range of emotions.

In closing to all my Brown girls, it is okay to not be okay. We will hear you when you say when enough is enough. The world will continue if you take the time to rest. Practice exercising the use of “NO” and most importantly engage in self-care life nobody’s business because we need you.

About Janee V. Henderson

Janee' V. Henderson is a licensed professional counselor, coach, and consultant. She is based in Kansas City, Missouri, and holds a license to service those located in Missouri, Texas, and New Jersey. Janee received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Hampton University and a Master's in Counseling Psychology from Temple University. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology. Janee has certifications in Anger Management and Trauma-Informed Care.

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