As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.
This is Shonitria Anthony's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.
So, I'm a Blunt Blowin' Mama.
No, really, that's my brand.
But my brand isn't just referring to me. It's an entire community of real moms and ladies who proudly and openly consume cannabis. One day, I decided to stop hiding my cannabis use in hopes of finding and bringing together other women and moms who did the same. I spent hours trying to find women who looked like me (young and brown) and that were both open stoners, and proud moms.
And I couldn't find any.
So I said to myself: " F*ck it, since that space doesn't exist, I'll just create it myself."
I remember I smoked weed for the first time as a freshman in college. I was with a friend who had wanted me to try it out for forever, so I did. And I ended up loving it. From there, we would meet to smoke and hide it from our parents, teachers, certain roommates. Keep in mind, the stigma was really heavy on the plant during those days—hell, it still kind of is now. But to be living in Georgia as a black teenager at the time, smoking weed was terrifying. You think you're worried now, back then was damn near open season. Police back in those days would absolutely use the excuse of a black person having weed on them to send them to prison, so I was risking heavy jail time every single time I decided to smoke.
Don't go to jail, don't get arrested.
You've got this, Shonitria.
This fear would consume me.
It also caused me to create a private ganja-loving world that I happily lived, and found peace, in. I never talked about it much or smoked in public. I was all the way in the closet about my cannabis use for many years—simply out of fear of losing my freedom.
But back to my story, I'm a journalist by trade. I attended Georgia State for journalism, and obtained a master's degree in it as well. I moved to New York about a year after graduating to attend Columbia for grad school. I stayed in NYC for a while after graduating and worked as an editor at some really cool companies: ABC News. HuffPost. Blavity. It was fun and I learned a lot, but I never felt I was genuinely challenged enough, or that my own personal career development was taken seriously by the powers that be—which is how theBlunt Blowin' Mama podcast came into fruition: unappreciation—like most businesses. This wasn't the first time I tried to create and host a podcast, I had pitched and worked on about three other podcasts at various media companies. None of those worked out, but I never gave up on the idea of one day having my own.
Now, I've built my platform in West Hollywood, which is where I've been living for the past three years.
And living in California, the way weed is so openly embraced, absolutely inspired the creation and evolution of the Blunt Blowin' Mama brand. I went from hiding who I was, to happily educating the public on stigmas of weed consumption. The difference is almost astonishing.
Now, I puff everyday.
Courtesy of Shonitria Anthony
Don't get me wrong, this isn't some rebellious, trendy humble-brag about how much I choose to smoke. My story is solely told to create a flourishing platform that leads the change of the perception of women and mothers—especially those of color—who smoke.
This is much bigger than me.
And here's why:
Many moms who smoke weed are scared and feel alone, which would oftentimes mean that they are actively seeking a sense of community. A lot of these moms have been reprimanded by either the people they know, or by their own communities for smoking weed. It's almost ridiculous that people still feel and think that way, especially in 2020 with all the low-risk statistics and information available to everyone. I have spoken to dozens upon dozens of moms, both on the Blunt Blowin' Mama's podcast, and just via direct communication, and I have come across nothing but the most responsible and loving parents who also just happen to smoke.
The shift in acceptance comes with its own set challenges, and that's where things can get complicated. Yes, there's this social shift happening—great. And people are not only being more accepting of cannabis, there's also been an increasing interest in moms who consume the plant. But, as cannabis is becoming more and more mainstream, the face of "advocates" have all been non-inclusive. And this is definitely the case when it comes to the poster child of the mom who smokes weed.
Yes, I'm saying that generally, the face of our community is always a white woman.
"Moms Agree That Smoking Weed..."blah blah.
"Studies Show That Mothers Who Smoke Weed Once A Day Have Better..."blah.
When I began researching online, I had a hard time finding any black millennial moms who were openly advocating for moms who responsibly consume cannabis with a large platform. Black and brown people have been criminalized for weed for generations—where are we? And now white people are becoming rich off of what has torn our families apart for over 50 years. Legally.
To be frank, it's f*cked up. And I feel a deep obligation to be a voice as often as possible. The importance of cannabis education, is to always push to decriminalize and legalize the plant as equitable as possible. Too many dispensaries are looking like the Apple Store.
The. Apple. Store.
So, nah. Not on my watch. I instead chose to brand myself and have my hand in taking back this power.
It's ours. This country owes it to us.
My biggest supporter in my world is my partner. He hears my rants or listens to my tough days. We have been together for almost eight years at this point and he was actually the person who helped me brand myself. He's such a good man and father, he knows that cannabis is medicine, and he supports moms and my mission of normalizing cannabis consumption among moms. My beautiful babies are still very young at 13 months old and 4 years old, so they don't quite understand what is going on around them, but I plan to be open about it with them as they get older. And even in all my somewhat hippy liberation, I make it a point to never smoke around them, as well as take extra precaution to ensure they don't smell it.
Some of my extended family knows about my choice to medicate with cannabis and others do not. My parents are both incredibly conservative —especially when it comes to their views on weed, so it has been tough at times to explain it to them.
View this post on InstagramA post shared by Blunt Blowin' Mama (@bluntblowinmama) on Jun 27, 2019 at 9:06am PDT
But I still find my happiness in moments when bae and I smoke weed together after successfully running a vibrant home, and loving on our family as much as possible.
Ultimately, my biggest hope is that my platform truly educates naysayers. That's all I really want. People need to know that moms who smoke weed are not some dangerous, forbidden drug addicts putting our children in harm's way. We are simply women who have taken charge of a taboo industry, and made it ours for our benefit.
We are women who work in corporate offices.
We are women who take their kids to soccer practice.
We are women who attend PTA meetings.
And we are women who do it all with a lil' THC.
To keep up with Shonitria, you can follow her and the Blunt Blowin Mama community on Instagram. You may also listen to her podcast and catch up on her latest episodes.
If you have a story you'd like to share, but aren't sure about how to put it into words, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "As Told To" for your story to be featured.
Featured image courtesy of Shonitria Anthony.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
It (almost) never fails. Whenever I do an interview, someone will ask me: 1) is it hard to be a marriage life coach and not be married (chile, these clients are a part of the reason why I’m more cautious than ever about mate selection) and 2) am I lonely when it comes to being single? From the angle of loving Black men and understanding, daily, what a marital covenant can do for a person, I am totally open to jumping somebody’s broom one day. Lonely though? No. Not really. And a part of the reason is because I have such an awesome group of male friends.
No, I’m not one of those women who don’t see the value in female friends too. It’s just that one demographic “scratches one itch” while the other scratches another. And when it comes to men, specifically, there are certain things that they bring to my life that are simply incomparable.
That’s why, whenever single women will tell me that they are getting restless as they wait on their husband to make his presence known, I am quick to ask, “Girl, where are your male friends at?” Because while they can’t meet every need that a husband can (and should), believe me when I say that they do offer some bona fide benefits that will definitely make them a great alternative on a few different levels.
I’ve got a solid six for you today.
1. Men Are Not Women. Let’s Start There.Giphy
Listen, I’m sure that there is a lot of good stuff out in TikTok world; however, as a life coach myself, on the coaching front, truly sensible advice can really be like a needle in a haystack on that platform — especially when it comes to trustworthy (and sound) insight on men. So much stuff is rooted in bitterness, stereotypes, and gross generalizations (generalizations are typically rooted in bitterness, by the way) that there’s no way that it can be seen as being even close to being reliable.
And as much as some of y’all might not want to hear what I’m about to say, I think a part of the reason is because a lot of women don’t want to accept that men are just…different. Not in a “Yeah, I know. They should be more like us” kind of way. I mean, a “God made it that way by design, and science is there to back it up.”
For instance, some professionals believe that women having more blood flood to the brain is why they are more emotional in their communication style, while men are typically more direct (more on that in a bit). Other studies reveal that women are more comfortable with their emotions while men tend to be more centered (and sometimes quicker) at problem-solving. And while a woman’s right hemisphere of her brain is more developed to the point where she is more sensitive and empathetic, a man’s is more developed to where he is more “mathematic” (2+2=4, that’s it) and explorative.
This kind of stuff always fascinates me, so while I could go on and on, the bottom line here is men's and women’s wiring are not identical.
And while society keeps trying to make them be the same via all of these damn gender wars, the beauty in the differences is men and women can actually provide each other with balance. Because, after all, as a man by the name of Larry Dixon once said, “If two people were exactly alike, one of them would be unnecessary.” And both men and women are…necessary.
2. Guys Tend to Have a “Straight No Chaser” ApproachGiphy
Whenever I read an article about how social media is creating more narcissists than ever, I can’t help but nod my head up and down in total agreement. I don’t even hesitate because one example of this that I see on a regular basis is how people are becoming more and more wired for praise, and yet they can’t handle any kind of criticism or call out to hold themselves accountable to save their lives.
You know who will bring you back down to earth, though? A good friend. And guy friends? I guess due to some of the science that I just mentioned, I don’t have one in my life who pulls any punches. Although some are more, let’s go with tactful in their approach (LOL), there’s not one who sugarcoats issues or tells me what I want to hear. And you know what? I need that. I don’t need flatterers (even the Bible frowns on that…did you know that? — Job 17:5); I need folks who will be as direct, candid, and “Well Shellie, you asked” as I tend to be with other people. It keeps me responsible. It grows me up. And it helps me to better discern when my ego is getting all up in the way.
Yeah, if you want to hear the REAL real, a guy will deliver it to you. Which brings me to the next way that they are a true “win.”
3. They’re Good At Catching Blind SpotsGiphy
Back when I was on my “Get Your Heart Pieces Back Tour” (you can read more about it here), there was a guy from my past who I was talking heavy with for a few weeks. He’s always been fine. The sex was always incredible. And, back in the day, he was there for me during a time that was very dark in my life, which is why I will always hold a special affection for him. That’s why, I ain’t got no lies to tell y’all — after our first eight-hour-straight conversation, I was ready to get on a plane and (eh hem) relive some memories. So, what stopped me? One was a particular conviction that I have (perhaps we’ll discuss that at another time). Another was a conversation that I had with two of my male friends.
One asked me, “So, who contacted who?” Oh, the loaded question that will make you reflect on talking to these exes, chile. The other said, “He said he did what when he found out his ex cheated?” Listen, I don’t know who reads my content or not as far as people who know or who knew me, so I won’t get all into the details. I’ll just say that it wasn’t anything violent, but it was intense. And those two questions, put together, caused me to ponder some things that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Because while my girlfriends thought that it was some rom-com come to life, my guy friends were like, “Uh-uh. Think it ALL the way through.” They simply had eyes where I didn’t because…they are guys who know guys. Simple as that.
4. They’re Like the Big Brothers (or More Big Brothers) You Never HadGiphy
I didn’t really notice how much I needed my blood brother until he moved to South Africa. Even though he’s younger than I, there’s a presence that he provided that made me feel protected; like if some ish really hit the fan, I had someone to call who could help me to feel safe. Thankfully, over the course of the first couple of years that he was gone, some “love brothers” came into the world. And when I tell you that they don’t play about me — I mean, at all.
A good example of this is when my house burned down back in December of 2021. Two immediately sent me a laptop (because for a writer, that’s like not having a car). One sent me the deposit for a new place to stay. Another came to check on me for a week straight. I can’t tell you how many mini-sermons I got on how to legally proceed with my landlords. Bottom line, they held me down and didn’t even give it a second thought. And although my girlfriends had my back as well, they were coming more from a nurturing stance, while my male friends were more protective.
Another example. Earlier this year, I had to drive to another state to sue the person I bought my car from (heads up: a meditator told me that Kentucky has some of the strictest as-is laws in the country). Long story short, the dealer assured me of a feature that wasn’t there. Anyway, I asked one of my male friends to drive me, and even though we took my car, he was like, “Let me drive” — and I had no problem with that. He does it for a living; we had to leave while it was still dark outside, and he knew that I was kind of tired. There was a natural “let me cover you” energy about him that we didn’t need to be dating for it to show up — he’s a good man who knows how to take care of ALL of the women in his life. I love that for me.
One more example. One time my car didn’t start, and I didn’t know what to do. I had to leave it in a random parking lot and, so I called a male friend for some advice. All he said was, “I got it. I’ll call you later.” By that evening, he drove it to me. He had a mechanic friend of his put a new alternator in, and he didn’t even charge me for it. He was like, “Girl, you need to get a man, but until you do, I got you.”
When all you have in your life are guys who you date, sometimes it’s hard to discern what their motives may be. Plus, if things don’t work out, you’re back to figuring everything out on your own. When you have male friends, though? There’s no slick ish. Plus, they’re not going anywhere. You’ve got brothers from another mother who acts just like that. And it’s awesome.
5. They Are Awesome Friend (or Stand-In) DatesGiphy
One of my male friends, folks have been thinking that we’re screwing on the low for years now. He’s a cutie. He can sing his butt off. I tell him often that if I could turn his speaking voice into a person, that part of him (and that part alone) would be my sneaky link, for sure (that voice!). Yet nah — nothing even remotely sexual/physical has happened to us beyond a hug “hello” and a hug “good-bye.” And while I wouldn’t say that we’re exactly “platonic” because he sometimes jokes that “Shellie, you are like a sister, but you still ain’t my sister” and that holds a bit of subtext (check out “Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'”), we’ve got almost two decades under our belts — at this point, ain’t nothin’ finna go down. It just doesn’t “click” that way. And we are both so good with that.
That doesn’t mean that we’re not each other’s kick-it buddies, though. Aside from the fact that we try to have a lunch or dinner date once a month, if there’s something we want to do or a place we want to go to, we don’t hesitate to take each other as an unofficial date. That’s because we know that it will make the event more fun and less stress-filled because there is no extra stress, pressure, or expectations. We also know how to dress up or down, be casual or corporate — y’all get it.
Yeah, if you’ve got something coming up, you don’t want to go alone, and the idea of a traditional date seems like it would be “too much,” a guy friend is the perfect solution. It has worked out for me (with the guy whom I’m referring to and others) for years now.
6. Platonic Love Is Really SpecialGiphy
Clearly, I believe that men and women can be “just friends” (check out “Unpopular Opinion: Men And Women CAN Really Be 'Just Friends'”). And although the genuine definition of platonic means that there is NO sexual interest on ANY level (which is why I think that word is used too loosely), those types of relationships can exist — and they are truly one of a kind.
Final example. I’ve got four male friends who I absolutely adore. We hang out. We can talk on the phone for hours. We send each other stupid clips throughout the day. And HELL NAW, we ain’t gonna date each other. Like…ever. We talk enough about relationships that we get how and why other people are attracted to us — and still, that doesn’t mean we want to fit into those categories. We like each other. We love each other. We trust and respect each other. We enjoy each other. As friends, and that’s all it’s ever gonna be.
However, because I am a woman and they are men, we bring something into each other’s worlds as far as opinions, perspectives, and insights that no one of the same sex can. As their friend (for instance), I tell them when a woman has some ulterior motives that they haven’t even thought about, and as men, they tell me when a guy is just wanting to hit, no matter how cryptic their approach may be.
OH, HOW I LOVE MY MALE FRIENDS. They make my world so much richer. Plus, they’re great reminders that you don’t have to be sexual with a man in order for you to be intimate with him. Men are far more layered than that (contrary to whatever you may hear in the media).
So, if you don’t have any strictly male friends, I’m hoping that this will encourage you to at least consider getting some (or hell, at least one). And if you do, do what I do and treat your male friends to a meal sometimes, just to say “thank you”. Men who’ve got your back, just because, without wanting you to get on your back? Sis, they deserve a seasonal meat-‘n-three or somethin’. Wouldn’t you say? I WOULD.
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Featured image by FG Trade/Getty Images