For a long time I didn’t quite understand why I was the one who never really liked flower dresses and Rapunzel hair. I say this because even in the first of the 2000s I was struggling with the idea of what it really meant to be a girl and a black one. When I heard comments like “you’re pretty for a black girl” or ‘you’re different black’ I sort of took that as a compliment because at the time I only heard pretty and different.
Fast forward to me this year I moved to London from Birmingham, pharm drugs I started working in a new industry and I started hosting my own events called ‘Girls, this Lets Talk’ amongst other things; these things taught me a lot about myself, women and (to be specific) my generation. I don’t want to offend anyone but for anyone not from London you will probably get my drift, London is a bubble. There is an avid assumption that nothing happens outside of this wonderful city. Since I’ve moved here there’s been pro’s and cons, some say they love my accent (I don’t), then on the other hand some assume I wouldn’t really know the ‘cool’ fashion trends, because of course only London has ‘cool cats’, right? My point is that I find myself subconsciously defending the city I’m from because I may or may not seem automatically inadequate.
Our minds are conditioned to stereotypes because of what society has taught and shown us
I identify myself with women as a whole, but as a black girl with Jamaican heritage and a Birmingham accent also in her twenties I apparently fall into about four subcultures and that’s what makes this shit confusing. Alongside my exterior, there’s my likes and dislikes, my natural talents and my learnt skills that also separate me into about a dozen other cultural groups. Our generation are mean but we’re also pressured and I understand why each time you see someone who might ‘look’ or share the same interests as you, you wonder why they have more followers, or why they can afford stuff that you can’t. The truth is we are all so different and that it’s our light that carries us forward. I’m speaking from a perspective of a black 22 year old female who people assume is a lesbian because I have shaved hair at the sides and wear trainers all the time however, I no longer take that as an offence. Our minds are conditioned to stereotypes because of what society has taught and shown us also, what the education system has built amongst schools and institutions. There is a traditional stance that follows us and often we think to go against it, is not right. We are wonderful without permission and in our own right, even you don’t have the right to tell yourself that you are not beautiful, talented and self-assured.
We were born this way.
I was the girl who sat at the back of the classroom, believing that no one really liked me, I didn’t fit in and I tried to conform but I realised growing up, sitting at the back of the class is a mind set and state you won’t leave unless you push yourself, and allow yourself to be yourself for yourself. Our generation are caught up on fitting in, until its cool to not fit in.
I want to share this because I’ve thought about fitting in, and I spend a lot of my life defining or defending myself instead of celebrating who I am and I’m still learning everyday.
Written by Shannie Mears