Making a Woman of Me (Odes to My OGs)
Who do you want to be when you grow up? Notice I didn't ask "what". All of us experience an itch for self-discovery at one time or another. Introspection can show us exactly what parts of ourselves that we’re searching for. Inspiration can tell us how to make strides in becoming who we’ve always been meant to be. For that, I offer my idols, role models, and inspirations as well as how they became my path to finding my most authentic self.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A question I grew quite tired of answering, but alway felt the need to have an answer for. My earliest response was a vet. I wrote a poorly published book about it in the 2nd grade. It didn’t take me until long after to realize the only animals I liked were domesticated common household pets. Preferably dogs and not much else.
I mulled around with the idea of what I wanted to be for many of my young years, yet hardly ever arrived at a solid answer. Being a good student was normal and unsatisfying. Competitive spirit led me to being a decent athlete, though I had no real interest in sports. Creativity was my niche, however, I ignored the possibility of a future in it for fear of being a starving artist. At a point, I merely settled on being “successful”, without giving myself more constraint or expectation.
Television and radio became my saving graces, they offered me examples of what I could be. Having little representation of people I aspired to be in real life, I was led to the world of mass media. In it, I found idols; women that offered me a widened imagination of not only who I was, but who I could soon become.
QUEEN BEY 👑
Obviously, since she poses as the article thumbnail, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter has been the biggest and brightest star guiding me toward finding my inner feminista. My father often tells stories of how at the age of three, he would hear me butchering the words to Destiny Child's chart topper "Bills, Bills, Bills". From her fashion sense, to her musical compositions, I have been obsessed with Beyoncé since as far back as my memory dates.
To me, Beyoncé is thee standard, now more so than the early 2000s. Her dedication to craft, attention to detail, and eye for business opportunity are traits I have dreamed of embodying as a fully realized adult woman. Often I ask myself “What would Beyoncé do?”, because to me, she unapologetically acts within her best self interest, while also in the best interest of her shared community. She offers wisdom, positivity, relatability, sex appeal, and just an overall badassery that shines in everything she does. Flaws and all, she creates bodies of timeless work that so many people know and love. Adopting such a presence of grace and gratitude is a long time goal of mine, and Beyoncé is one the main women I’ve seen do it almost effortlessly.
QUEEN LATIFAH 👑
Multifaceted is the only word that comes to mind when I think of this woman. As a rapper, singer, actress, cover girl, and entrepreneur, Queen Latifah lands at one of my top spots for personal inspiration always. She’s just good for the soul, ya know?
As a teenager, my paternal grandmother often told me that I was modelesque. Standing at a whopping 6’0 I couldn't completely disagree, yet there weren’t many plus sized black women ripping runways at the time. “You know who you remind me of?” she had asked me one day. “Queen Latifah! She’s a big and beautiful woman. So poised and mannered. You know she’s a model too.”
Until then, I hadn't considered just how talented she was, but thinking back, I loved pretty much all of Queen Latifah‘s work. Mad Money, Just Wright and Beauty Shop were among my favorite films growing up. Though I didn’t listen to much of her music, I enjoyed her rap style and flow, as well as her edgy hip-hop fashion sense. The way she effortlessly floated between masculine and feminine roles while co-starring alongside huge Hollywood heart-throbs, showed her wide range of talent and individuality. Not to mention her identifying as both plus sized and LGBT made her all the more relatable to the outliers of the black community. I couldn’t tell you a thing about her that there is not to love.
HONORABLE MENTIONS 🎗️
Now these women while influential in their own right, only made my honorable mentions list because they are not within my top two. Yes, I will say that they all had influence on me in my youth and young adulthood, but they just have yet to reach QUEEN 👑 status for me personal. Beautiful gowns though!
1. ISSA RAE
Nominated for her progress in popularizing black women with awkward personalities. Thank you for making other Awkward Black Girls feel seen.
Nominated for her authentic personality and incorporation of womanly softness in everything that she does. Thank you for serving as my adorable femme inspo.
Nominated for her unconventional pathway in creating abstract minimalistic music and visuals that advocate for the black mental health and wellness. Thank you for the creation of A Seat at the Table, it got me through quite some rough times.
Nominated for her her ability to trailblaze the fashion industry while gracefully representing Plus Sized Fashion look in modern times. Thank you for allowing me to see myself in the clothes that I like before I decide to buy them.