I recently saw a news clip about a 100 year old woman who still runs track races. In front of a crowd, standing at the starting line she did a jig, started to run, and then fell flat on her face. She got up, put a bandage on her chin, went back to the starting line, began again, and finished her race.
I am loving that I live in a world and in a time where black women like Ms. Ella Mae Colbert and Beyonce can stand as pillars of strength and fitness, mind, body and spirit – to remind us all that everything is never perfect. We all face hardship to different degrees, but surviving albeit thriving is all about how you get back up, turn lemons into lemonade and keep running your race. And judging by them both, taking care of self is the first thing on the list. They are strong, healthy, vibrant women…living their purpose to its fullest (and just by doing that they offer inspiration to us all).
In her essay on Lemonade, “Moving Beyond Pain,” bell hooks suggests that Beyonce is selling records, videos, her streaming service, and athletic clothing line by exploiting the beauty of Black women – their physical, mental, and spiritual strength for her own personal gain. She goes so far as to mention the appearance of the Goddess, Serena Williams as a prop or model for Ivy Park, Beyonce’s sports clothing line…”the scantily clothed dancing image of Serena Williams also evokes sportswear.” Well sign me up! If Black women can be inspired by Ivy Park instead of, say, Lululemon, to be as healthy and fit as they both appear, that is a great thing. The health statistics for Black women in America remain disproportionately dire, so anyone who encourages healthy images of Black women is doing something good for the world. And the bonus is that we are supporting the financial health of a woman of color. That appears to be a win-win.
Beyonce is one of those special artists who puts everything she lives, feels, sees and experiences into her art. She doesn’t talk about her business in interviews she expresses it in her art in a way that we all can relate. She is brilliant at it, works really hard at it, and should make lots of money for it.
I must admit my relationship to the artist Beyonce has evolved as she has evolved.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always enjoyed her music. I bought every album and know most of the words to every song, but I used to wonder about the impact of her hair (Black women and our hair. Sadly it always comes back to this…and yes, I still have issues with my own hair. I don’t dye it, but I do relax it and ponder going natural) and her overt sexuality. I wondered about its impact on the young girls she seeks to inspire. I wondered about her dancing. Was it too racy for those young girls, the lyrics too mature? What I realize now is that we have been watching an American woman of color grow up in front of our eyes, expressing those things that she is thinking about or dealing with at the time. We are all sexual, we fall in love, we have sex, we have issues in our relationships, and we live in a highly sexualized America. Beyonce reflects her experiences in a safe place, in her music. And we work through our experiences often by listening and mimicking her lyrics. How many women and men embraced the idea that you better put a ring on it if you want to lock it down? And believe me, I have girlfriends going through relationship issues with their husbands, who say Beyonce is on a continual loop as they work through their own pain.
So now I’m all the way in! I’m part of her tribe. Picture me sitting with the group in New Orleans or dancing with her on the bus or hanging with her and Serena…a part of the Goddess Council. Beyonce is living her purpose to her fullest. Physically strong and beautiful, and doing the work to get through her pain (not just drinking or eating her woes away), and she is making paper so that no matter what happens she will make sure that she and her baby are good. That is the dream I have for all women. Beyonce and Ms. Ella Mae Colbert illustrate that all women go through tough times one way or another, at one time or another and the healthy way to deal with it is to dig deep, love yourself, take care of your financial well-being, and move on!
I’m thinking, If I wear Ivy Park gear, work through my stuff like Beyonce, and live my purpose to the fullest the way Beyonce and Serena do, maybe I can one day be like Ms. Colbert, running a race at the age of 100. Sounds like something wonderful at which to aspire.