By JEANINE DeHONEY
Growing up we’ve always heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Often times though, because of a Eurocentric standard of beauty, Black women and their undeniable beauty, both outer and inner, haven’t been beheld by others as much as they should have been and should be today. Our history dating back to slavery and the Jim Crow era has been rift with images that ridiculed, or negatively portrayed Black woman. Our natural hair was called nappy, our noses too wide, our hips too large, and our complexions too dark. Even our “attitude” was deemed negative. We were perceived as being confrontational, bossy, overbearing, instead of assertive women who deserved to have their say.
Thankfully times are changing and we are seeing more of a cross representation and appreciation of Black women in the media, in film, etc., but we still have a ways to go. Many Black women (and men) need to do self-work when it comes to releasing the damaging messages of the past that were passed down to them. We/ they need to embrace the “queenliness” of Black women.
If we remember those beautiful Black women who “loved us up”; our mothers, our Nana’s and aunties; it should be easier to release those negative messages. Sitting at their knee we had an open window into a beautiful Black woman’s soul.
We also have been blessed with the presence of other beautiful Black women in the greater world to emulate. Women from our past like Sojourner Truth, and Madame CJ Walker, and Dorothy Height; women in our present like Oprah Winfrey, Ursula Burns, who heads Xerox and is the first female African-American CEO in the Fortune 500, and First Lady Michelle Obama and Lupita Nyong’o. They, just as our female kin, embody everything in Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman.”
So just in case you need a reminder of what attributes, we as beautiful Black women have, here they are from A to Z.
A is for aura. A is for the aura about her that makes her stand apart from others in a glorious and distinctive way. She shimmer shines from the top of her head to the soles of her feet.
B is for her beauty which emanates from within.
C is for her crown of glory in the hand of God and a royal diadem in the hand of our maker.
D is for the dreams she holds fast to and never lets age, circumstances or lack of finances deter her pursuit of them. She knows it is never too late or early for them to come to fruition especially with her fervent prayers.
E is for her experiences, good and bad, joyful and sorrowful. She knows they will help her grow.
F is for her unwavering faith; no matter what hurricanes come her way. Her hands are always folded and her knees on the ground until she gets a breakthrough.
G is for her gentleness when she cuddles a child in their arms, loves her spouse, or comforts a friend.
H is for being hospitable; sometimes to a default. She will open her heart, home, cupboards, and pocketbook to others without a moment’s thought.
I is for inspiring others with her walk, talk and deeds.
J is for her journey. She stays on course, even if she hits some road blocks along the way.
K is for kindred spirits; supportive friends who are her back-up group. She knows she needs others to enfold her spirit in their laughter, love and loyalty.
L is for love. When a beautiful black woman loves her God, her spouse, her child, her friends, her muse, it is molasses sweet and unconditional.
M is for the memories she holds on to that anchor her soul and help her honor her family traditions.
N is for her name. She refuses to let others call her out of her beautiful black name. She is not the B word even if someone says it in jest.
O is for organized. She knows how to get things done. This might mean putting a large calendar on the refrigerator door, or making a “To-Do” list. Time is of the essence and organization is key to using time productively.
P is for her prayers that move mountains! Whether she prays in the congregation or in her car on the way to work in the morning, she is persistent!
Q is for the patchwork quilt she embodies. She’s multilayered with magnificence, faith and love and stitched sacredly together.
R is for regal. She walks purposely, proudly, her head held high to the Heavens knowing from where her blessings come.
S is for her strength. Her branches may sway and bend in a storm, but her roots will never allow her to topple over and break.
T is for her tapestry of tolerance. She sees people for whom they are and accepts them.
U is for being unsurpassed by no other. She is not afraid to stand toe to toe with anyone else. She is the best of the best.
V is for vocal. She knows how to express herself freely. She can be insistent and outspoken about what she is passionate about.
W is for the wisdom she exudes from her core. She has an eternal knowing that guides her in life decisions.
X is for x-ray vision. A beautiful black woman has the God given ability to see through translucent people who do not have her best interest at heart. She is not afraid to call them out and beseech them to change. If they refuse, they must exit from her life.
Y is for the yearnings she will never suppress; to learn, grow, and create. She knows that following through with the yearnings of her heart are for her and the world’s betterment.
Z is for her zeal about life. She’s eager to make her mark on this world as so many beautiful black women have done before her.
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Jeanine DeHoney is a wife, mother and grandmother whose writing has appeared in Essence, Upscale, Today’s Black Woman, Beautiful Black Magazine, The Mom Egg, Literary Mama, Good Enough Mother, The Children’s Ark, BlackandMarriedWithKids.com and the anthology, “Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul.” She is also the winner of The Brooklyn Film and Arts Festival, Brooklyn Nonfiction 2014 Award.