10 Black Women Founders On How They Cultivate Their Summertime Joy

10 Black Women Founders On How They Cultivate Their Summertime Joy

This joy is Black-owned.

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What a time to be us: Black women . We've entered a new era where the mantles of all industries are shifting and Black women are not only taking their rightful place within these spaces but continue to create their own: reimagined and reclaimed.

It's the unique ability of Black women to identify a need, incubate the vision, and give birth to what the world has always needed, but couldn't find the words to call out for. In reflection, this proves even more true as we shift from one of the darkest times our generation has faced, into a radiant future if Black women have anything to do with it—and we do.

For years, Black joy has seemed out of reach, locked away from our grasps. But our imagination, resilience, and ingenuity will be our keys. And now that we've opened it, it'll never close again.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, so this is for the muthas, sistas, aunties, and everyone in between who have been shaping worlds with their visions—a world that our future kin will live in fully and abundantly. Today, xoNecole honors and celebrates the trailblazing and trendsetting woman founders defying the odds with style and grace. And if you ever see it replicated, just remember who did it first.

The message is clear: Shop Black. Support Women. Stand in Joy.

Her Why Behind Golde:

" Golde makes superfood self-care for the next generation. I started the business four years ago on a mission to make the wellness space more accessible and inclusive for folks like myself. From matcha lattes to papaya skincare, we make it easy to feel like your best self."

Her Black Joy:

"I've been spending as much time as possible offline and in the garden! There's nothing more powerful than strengthening that connection to nature. We've got a few dozen baby veggie plants that we started from seed, and it's been such a cool journey to nourish this little living thing from the very beginning. I also come from a family of musicians, and I inherited none of the talent but all of the appreciation. Right now our record player has been seeing a lot of Aretha's Young, Gifted, and Black — such a treasure."

Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"There are so many great ones! Any soap bar from REDOUX , Klur's Gentle Matter face wash, or OUI the People's Rose Gold Razor . I also have to plug Golde's Clean Greens Face Mask — it's truly like a smoothie for your skin, and it clears up my breakouts like nothing else."

Her Why Behind The Glamatory:

"My 'why' has always been to make women feel confident in their own skin and empower other makeup artists. When I started The Glamatory , it was twofold: creating a creative space that other artists could flourish in and I could mentor . That transitioned into my makeup line ; I wanted to create products that any skin tone or shade could wear. All in all, it's creating products that are inclusive, health-conscious, and multifunctional to simplify the beauty process."

Her Black Joy:

"The pandemic brought a lot of sorrows, but on the bright side, it brought a lot of great things. It made us sit and realize what's important, made us prioritize, and brought out a lot of creativity. I love to see all of us win."

Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"I'm a big fan of the Doux! I love Maya Smith (the founder), her creativity, and how she involved her family. I'm a fan of the 90's so I really love her brand. Particularly, I love the MOUSSE DEF Texture Foam . I'm also big on skincare. I use AcARRE, [their] Beauty Edit Oils are great!"

Her Why Behind Melanin Haircare:

"With Melanin Haircare , we set out to provide luxurious, beneficial, and non-toxic natural hair products at affordable prices. We were one of the first brands to have this unique goal of offering unisex high-end products, in high quantities, and at prices that respect our customers' wallets. We believe that high-quality, natural beauty products should not be reserved solely for the luxury market and we set out to make sure that every person, man, woman, and child that wants non-toxic , all-natural, and high-quality products can afford to get them.

"All of our products are free from sulfates, silicons, phthalates, formaldehyde, parabens, mineral oil, and petroleums, and we've also taken the additional step to analyze every ingredient we use against the WG database to ensure it's safe for our community."

Her Black Joy:

"Caring for my mental and physical well-being, as well as those around me, is first priority. Not pushing myself past my limits, and honoring myself if I need a break is how I've maintained my sanity. But beyond that, exploring new hobbies like growing house plants, and revisiting old hobbies, like painting and running, have been bringing me so much internal joy this season."

Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"Besides Melanin Haircare products for my own hair, of course, I'm in love with Harlem candles for my home atmosphere. The scents are so chic and classy, lighting one feels like a ritual in itself. Keeping in fragrance, I'm obsessed with, and constantly reaching for my La Botica fragrance oils; they're so intoxicating and sensual.

"I love applying them after my showers and baths, and the scent lingers on through the night. I can't do without Habit Cosmetics cream blushes, which I basically use for every look! They're an all-natural formulation, and sink into my skin making me look like I'm blushing and glowing from within!"

Cheryl Williams, Founder of 86 & Norman

Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon of Portraits to the People

Her Why Behind 86 & Norman:

"Each individual person is unique and so is their personal style. Sometimes people want to gravitate away from what's the latest trend or find something that very few people have. People want to be themselves and express that in many different forms. From my fanny packs and wallets to my colorful plant pots, I wanted to give people the option to wear or to put into their homes something that is as eclectic as they are. Or the option to find that super unique gift for the special person that they know will love it. I hope to one day in the future create a physical retail space where people can shop for not just my brand but other Black-owned brands with the same vision."

Her Black Joy:

"I'm cultivating Black joy this season by being more and more intentional about giving more grace to sisters and brothers who look like me especially during the trying season the world has been in. Sometimes we are hardest on those we relate to the most. I have also been making it more of a habit to share and promote positive Black stories, experiences, businesses, and images whether it be on social media, in person, or in the conversations that I have."

​Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"I love On The Lookout's hoop earrings. They are so colorful and lightweight. I've been using Body By Bella soaps, body butter, and body oils. They smell so good and are very moisturizing on the skin. And The Lip Bar's newest Skin Tint is my new makeup staple. I buy up all their products. And of course, I put my plant babies in my 86 & Norman colorful plant pots all around my home."

Sheree M., Founder of Sophie Rose Candle Co.

Photo Credit: Carol Rose of Colurwrk

Her Why Behind Sophie Rose Candle Co.:

"I'm a candle addict, I'm still that way. I love, love, love candles . I'm just in love with all the dope Black business owners doing their thing. It's been an honor just to be amongst that crowd and to be inspired. I love the people I've met in the process and the people I continue to meet, as well as my loyal customers. I've become friends with a lot of them, just from doing markets prior to the pandemic. They're loyal. Those repeat customers, you get to know them and they provide feedback and that's really inspiring."

Her Black Joy:

"I'm an avid reader, so whenever I get time to read, that brings me joy. I love learning new things, I love hearing about other people's experiences through their words. I also have two daughters, so that's constant joy. Most importantly, when I make my candles, it doesn't feel like work. It's therapeutic, it relaxes me, it zones me out. So I find a lot of joy in what I do."

​Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"I definitely wear sunscreen, so one of my daily regimens is using Black Girl Sunscreen . My hairstylist makes her own haircare products, my hair is loc'd so I use her products on my hair. I also work out, so I wear J. Dow Fitness . And Mantra Mugs , I use them to drink my teas."

Her Why Behind Koils By Nature:

"Our why is to empower, educate, and serve women and men around the world by increasing their knowledge in haircare, hair solutions, beard and grooming, and the use of plant-based products for healthy growth. And we strive to provide high-quality jobs for people in our community."

Her Black Joy:

"Seeing Black businesses do astronomical numbers, that's something that brings me so much joy. Even in a pandemic, so many Black-owned businesses have seen record sales, placements, it's just been so amazing to see the recognition for people in our industry and in our community.

"How we took over and showed that Black is beautiful, and Black is magical, and Black is amazing. We didn't allow the pandemic to beat us down or what happened with George Floyd or Breonna Taylor. We used that as fuel to do more and be more."

Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"I'm really intentional about buying Black. Right now, I'm really loving a company called Empowered Tees and we're both from the Lowcountry [of South Carolina], we're Geechee/Gullah; they truly empower our community with t-shirts. This jewelry that I wear almost every day, it's called CandidArt, I love her jewelry. I'm really loving Crayon Case Cosmetics by SupaCent. And BaabsBeauty , her makeup is hyper-allogeneic, she has an amazing BB Cream that I use."

Her Why Behind Movita Organics:

"I was inspired to create Movita Organics from my work in women's health, specifically as an advocate for Black women's maternal health. I believe that a woman's health sets the tone for the well-being of her family and ultimately the health of her community. Movita Organics offers vitamin supplements for women that is one tool in her arsenal of achieving optimal wellness."

Her Black Joy:

"Over the last several months, I've been producing a documentary about Black maternal health. And so this season my joy has come from bearing witness to incredible mothers giving birth to healthy Black babies."

Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"I love Golde's Matcha Turmeric blend in the mornings. Fenty's Fussy Lip Gloss is my go-to, and our Movita Beauty supplement for strong hair, skin, and nails is a daily no-brainer."

Her Why Behind Bask & Bloom Essentials:

"As a Black woman, our hair isn't just hair. It is our crown and makes a statement even without intention sometimes. Going through something like postpartum hair loss multiple times and connecting with so many women who were dealing with the issue, I knew I had to offer something that spoke to their needs specifically. While this is a normal issue that happens after childbirth, it is not talked about with care and understanding that our 'crown' is no longer the same.

"It's one thing to cut your hair just to switch up your style from time to time, it's another to watch it fall out in clumps with no control over what was happening. I decided to step outside of my comfort zone little by little and share my story as well as my journey to getting my hair back healthy. By connecting with so many women in similar situations, this gave me the boost to launch a full product line over time to help them bounce back to healthy, flourishing hair."

Her Black Joy:

"By only participating in activities that keeps me mentally and physically happy. Showing up as my authentic self in every space, proudly and unapologetically. Empowering women to pour into themselves first in order to show up better for their families. Using all of my platforms to amplify all of the things that make us beautiful and unique as Black people."

Her Black-Owned Must-Haves

"Bask & Bloom Essentials, of course. I've been enjoying the More Moisture Cream and Hydrating Vitamin Curl Mousse combination lately. For skincare, Demosea Botanicals' Alpha Serum is bae! And Saige & Ivy for underarm care."

Her Why Behind BREAD Beauty Supply:

"After working in brand management for the likes of L'Oreal and Procter & Gamble, I felt that there were gaps of representation in the beauty space for women of color, and felt compelled to do something about it. However, it wasn't until I underwent the process of ditching chemical hair relaxer and returning back to my natural texture that the idea for BREAD was born. I was struggling to find brands on the market that I felt I could buy into, and the journey of finding products for my hair type was really confusing and time-consuming. So, BREAD was created to be 'the basics' for not-so-basic hair: all of the essentials you need for easy, simple textured, and curly haircare."

Her Black Joy:

"I'm all about embracing being lazy. That truly brings me joy. As Black women (and people in general), the rhetoric is often centered around being strong, and tough, and constantly on the grind. But what is bringing me joy is being unapologetically carefree, sometimes doing absolutely nothing other than enjoying free time, and I love watching others do the same."

​Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"My skincare favorite has got to be Faded by Topicals , made by Olamide Olowe. I'm so impressed with what she has built with Topicals at just 24 years old, and the product is a godsend for hyperpigmentation . I'm also recently obsessed with the Ami Cole Skin Tint . It's a new makeup brand by Diarrha N'Diaye-Mbaye that is unapologetically all about melanin-rich skin, and the formulas are game-changing!

"And of course, I can't forget BREAD! I shouldn't have favorites for my own brand, but I really can't go past our hair-oil: Everyday Gloss . It's like lipgloss for your hair, and I use it on the daily. It has won multiple beauty awards and is our best-selling product. My favorite time to apply is after I've just washed my hair and it's still a little damp. Nothing makes my hair softer."

Tay Watts, Founder of Posh Candle Co.

Photo Credit: Tiare Rush of Rush Studio LA

Her Why Behind Posh Candle Co.:

"The why behind Posh Candle Co. is freedom. Before becoming a full-time business owner, I would find myself dissatisfied with the level of freedom and flexibility that I could enjoy with a 9-5. I've always been one of the hardest working people I know; I would go to work and give my best work but always craved being in control of how I spent my day."

Her Black Joy:

"I'm cultivating Black Joy by bonding with my inner child and expressing some of the playful energy that may have gotten lost over the years of being in survival mode. Also, I've prioritized self-care like I've never done before and so much that I'm truly in a joyful state of mind just thinking about relishing in my routine or trying out something new. This is just a small example but one of the things that have brought me so much joy is going to sleep listening to the relaxing sound of a fan blowing."

Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"I swear by Bask & Bloom (Essentials) for natural haircare products especially their Brahmi Root Hair Masque. After having my second child, my hair became unmanageable and the products I previously used no longer worked. Candera, the CEO of Bask & Bloom gifted a box of hair products at xoNecole's ElevateHer Crawl back in 2019 and I have been hooked. For my acne-prone skin, Demosea Botanicals products are the perfect fit for my busy morning routine. It was important for me to have a simple routine that did not involve using several products, so I consider their Clarify Face Cleanser, Radiate Toner Mist, and Aloe Water Cream my must-haves.

"No routine is complete without nail care, so People of Color Beauty has a range of non-toxic nail polishes that I enjoy. I love white nails so my go-to color is New Attitude for a weekly refresh. Lastly, whether I'm relaxing or working, I'm burning a candle to set the mood. Do Nothing & Chill , Black Girl Magic , and Boss Lady are a few candles from my line that I'm personally obsessed with."

Tiffany Dalton, Founder of La Nirvana

Photo Credit: Robin V. Photography

Her Why Behind La Nirvana:

"One of the main goals in life should be all about discovering the powerful benefits of establishing a daily self-care routine , cultivating a life you desire, and setting good intentions towards health and wellness. Equally our bodies, emotions, spirituality, and mental health all need equal attention right? That's where La Nirvana comes in at. While traveling abroad to over 10 countries over the course of eight months, I first began with addressing my physical health as a vegan for five years and later stepped into my emotional and spiritual health by working with a spiritual healer in Ubud, Bali.

"I practiced yoga daily, meditation, detoxed, became a certified Reiki healer and the list continues. Upon returning to the states, I really yearned to continue my self-discovery journey and that's how La Nirvana was birthed. In times of uncertainty, we all need a way to continue to reconnect with our higher power. The benefits of La Nirvana aromatherapy candles and metaphysical products do just that. My passion is to help empower, educate and inspire others to reunite with their higher self through holistic healing at La Nirvana - a safe space to heal and grow."

Her Black Joy:

"As a Black woman, cultivating my Black joy is through self-expression daily. Showing up for myself, honoring myself, and refilling my cup daily so that I too can pour back into my daughters and the community each and every day."

Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"There are so many. La Nirvana of course for my daily wellness needs. In addition, my top favorite woman-owned products would be Lalah Delia, founder of Vibrate Higher Daily . Angel Brown, founder of MaeRahKee custom waist beads. Goddess HoneySuckle Moon, for smooth and addicting shea butter. Tracey Bryant, founder of Hey Honey Wellness Spa , and Abena Boamah, founder of Hanahana Beauty ."

​Her Why Behind Nolaskinsentials:

"As an African-American woman, I realized how challenging it was to find a brand that created all plant-based products for skin with melanin. Instead of accepting defeat, I tapped into my Black Girl Magic and said, 'Fine! I'll do it myself!' and created a skincare line that not only benefited melanin-based skin tones but all skin tones and skin types, because, with Nolaskinsentials , there's no glow left behind.

"It's our priority to revolutionize the skincare world with affordable, hand-crafted products to enhance natural beauty and help our community feel beautiful, from the inside, out."

Her Black Joy:

"I'm cultivating Black joy by making self-care a daily priority, focusing on better health and wellness, and continuously creating products and helpful content that will allow my community to cultivate their happiness and joy in their own skin."

Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"I swear by Taliah Waajid Shea Coco hair products , Mischo Beauty nail polish , Honeypot feminine products, and of course, Nolaskinsentials skincare ."

Jasmine Lewis, Founder of Vie Beauty

Courtesy of Vie Beauty

Her Why Behind Vie Beauty:

"It links to family, really my grandmothers in particular. Both of my grandmothers have passed away and these were my best friends, you know that grandmother/granddaughter love, nobody can touch that. I have younger sisters, so with the brand, I wanted them to see that it's not one-size-fits-all, there's no one way to do things. You can start a brand at 15-16 or 25 like I did and you can still do great things and make an impact, regardless of what it is.

"It really roots in family and me wanting to change the trajectory of how we think of our skin and how we take care of our skin. I'm a pre-med turned beauty founder, and there are a lot of similarities between medicine and beauty and I wanted to bring those two together and bring a lot of education to my brand."

Her Black Joy:

"Right now, I'm celebrating what it feels like to be a Black woman. I tend to do a lot of creative things, so I DIY projects and feeding things into my soul that spark that ultimate joy. I'm also married, so doing things with my husband, listening to soulful music, and art galleries are really big for me. And just celebrating what it means to be Black right now. It really sucks that it took this long, but that's what it is. Seeing Black girls in luxury too.

"My brand is big on luxury and self-preservation because I think that's how we self-preserve. Having beautiful things, it's not saying we're vain, but these are the things that spark joy in our lives and bring us happiness and I mean, who doesn't like nice things?"

Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"Of course, I love Vie Beauty's 30 Roses , that's my baby. It's a hydrating rose water mist; it's great right now for the summer and keeps your skin fresh, hydrated, and dewy. Another brand would be Gilded Body , she had this beautiful marble brush, so it's been a great way for me to exfoliate.

" Hyper Skin is a Vitamin C serum that's absolutely amazing, you get that glowy finish, and it evens your skin tone. And then The Glamatory had this red lipstick called Cherry Bomb, love that! And then I have a Turmeric Supplement from Golde that I take, incredible."

Ashley Sims, Founder of Humans Before Handles

Courtesy of Ashley Sims

Her Why Behind Humans Before Handles:

"For years, women whose skin color, body type, age, or appearance don't match the American beauty standard have been excluded from the fashion industry. Humans Before Handles aims to celebrate every person's unique and beautiful characteristics by giving them the chance to express themselves through fashion. We want to create a space for all women to feel confident without forcing them to adhere to social media's beauty standards.

"The pressure of influencers and Instagram often makes people feel as though they have to put up a front in order to be liked. Our business prioritizes the unique, beautiful individual in every person and gives them the chance to be their authentic selves all day, every day."

Her Black Joy:

" This season, and every season, we aim to curate a product collection that represents diverse interests, fashions, and people. We want our accessories to inspire joy and confidence in the people who wear them, whether they're going on a first date or a job interview.

"This month in particular, we are working on making all of our site model features black faces with photos from our stockist BYAS + LEON. We want to highlight black joy and celebrate their beauty in a fashion culture that often denies black women the space to do so for themselves."

Her Black-Owned Must-Haves:

"My tribe of business besties all have incredible products that I highly recommend checking out. For self-care products, I love Alexandra Winbrush's luxury candles and teas, Base Butter's skincare, and Range Beauty's clean makeup line. Each of these businesses curates unique and empowering experiences specific to your own needs through their products.

"For fashion, I could not recommend Alex Lord's brand Shop Hacz any more than I already have! She has the cutest one-of-a-kind vintage pieces that are guaranteed to steal anyone's heart."

Featured image design by Kyra James

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Jeezy has been pulling out all the stops for the promo of his new album I Might Forgive…But I Don’t Forget . The iconic rapper tapped legendary actress Nia Long for an intimate conversation about love, trauma, and the Black family. The discussion provided insight into the “All There” rapper’s childhood, strained relationship with his mother, who has since passed, and his career mishaps. He also briefly spoke on his decision to file for divorce from Jeannie Mai , saying that he feels “saddened,” “disappointed,” and “uneasy” about it. However, he believes that God is leading him on a different path.

Throughout the conversation, Nia also opened up about her life experiences, including her relationship with her father, her sons, and her ex-fiancé Houston Rockets coach Ime Udoka .

“You know I had a really public breakup recently. It was a wake-up call for me in the sense that, like ok, you’re gonna do this on your own, and you’re gonna be fine, and you’re not gonna worry about what anyone thinks and has to say ‘cause the relationship was rocky for a very long time,” she said. “I don’t believe that another person can break anyone up like, I just don’t buy that.

When Ime was the Boston Celtics head coach, he was caught having an affair with a staffer and was suspended for the 2022-2023 season. This suspension ultimately led to his firing. However, the cheating scandal led to the public rallying behind The Best Man actress, which the mother of two revealed she was “shocked” by.

“I had to realize for myself that anything that happened in the…last year and a half of my life, that shit didn’t have nothing to do with me,” she expressed. “It didn’t have nothing to do with me. I was not embarrassed. The way that Black people stood up for me and the way that Black women were like, ‘Oh no, you don’t do that to her,’ I was shocked because I didn’t realize that what I had done or what I’ve done in my career had so much impact.”

While she did admit that things between her and Ime had been “rocky” for a long time, she was trying her best to make things work. But she soon learned that choosing herself was the best option. “I think my older son saw me trying to keep the family together, but I had to come to a place where loving myself was bigger and more important than saving anybody.”

While time has passed and both parties have seemed to move on with their lives, we all have our down days. Jeezy checked in with Nia to see how she’s truly feeling since the breakup and the scandal that followed. “I think I’m exactly where I need to be, which is some days I’m like totally good, and other days I’m like, oh God, this feels like so much work. And other days, it feels like women shouldn’t have to be this strong ,” she said, tearing up. “I don’t want to be this strong sometimes.”

The former couple were together for 13 years and share a 12-year-old son together. Nia also has a 22-year-old son from a previous relationship.

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Back when I read TIME ’s article, “ You Asked: Why Do I Always Wake Up at 3 A.M.? ”, I found it to be fascinating that sleep apnea, acid reflux, and even aging can play a direct role in why some of us are able to fall asleep easily — only to wake up, almost right on the dot, at 3 a.m. As far as aging, specifically, goes, even though things like exercise and even keeping your thermostat down to a cooler setting can help to make getting some uninterrupted rest easier, so can consuming certain beverages.

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Gender wars. We’ve all seen them, and I’m willing to bet my next writer’s paycheck that if there’s one topic you notice, basically every time you scroll on social media, it’s body counts . Lawd, I don’t care what platform I tiptoe on to see what folks are talking about; one way or another, body counts are going to enter into the chat — and, more times than not, at least half of the people in the discussion (which is usually more like a debate) are triggered. Triggered AF .

Do I find myself ending up in that emotional kind of space? Nah. I’m the kind of person who is in the lane of, “If you did it, why should you be uncomfortable talking about it?” In fact, I actually wrote an article for the site that reveals my personal “count”; it’s entitled “ 14 Lessons I've Learned From 14 Sex Partners .” Personally, I’m not ashamed of or uncomfortable with my past. I’m also not the most private person in the world either (clearly) — what’s done is done. But hey, that’s just me.

As far as what I think about the debate as a whole? Well, because I know that there are (eh hem, pun intended) different strokes for different folks, I thought it would be a good idea to broach this topic from a few different angles — just so we can hopefully get out of the cul-de-sac of the whole body count drama.

So, please bear with me as I attempt to tackle this topic in a way that is aimed to reduce the triggers and, perhaps, bring about a bit more internal clarity (if you don’t already have it).

1. Perhaps If We Stop Referring to It As “Body Count”…


Another motto that I live by is “If you want to understand the ‘tree,’ you need to get a look at its ‘roots.’” That said, when it comes to body counts, I think just hearing the term subconsciously gets on people’s nerves, whether they realize it or not, because it sounds so…well, violent (kind of like how it feels whenever someone talks about “beating it up” in reference to sexual intercourse). And they would be right to think that way because…do you know where “body count” actually came from?

From the bit of research that I did , it was coined by the military in reference to the number of enemies who were killed during the Vietnam War. Eww. Now, if that’s the origin story and you “build on it” by referring to sex partners in the here and now, of course , it’s going to make you feel some type of way — right off of the rip. For me, what immediately comes to mind after taking this in is a quote by a late Black best-selling author by the name of Eric Jerome Dickey . I used to read his books, and in one of them, one of his characters said something that has always stayed with me: “Sex without love is violence.” Although I get that not everyone feels that way, it does kind of illuminate the entire body count thing if you string all of this together…doesn’t it?

So, for starters, maybe that’s why the body count discussion gets so many people heated — whether you care to share yours or not, referring to sex partners with the same words that were once used to describe enemies who were killed in a war is pretty horrifying. I mean, who wants to brag about committing an act of violence? Who wants to see all of their sex partners as enemies? Can’t we come up with something better than that? We probably — no, definitely — should.

Next point.

2. According to Science, Numbers Actually DO Matter


Take it how you want to, but I personally think it is WILD that we’re living in a time when folks make fun of virgins and then will turn around and quote celebs who have cosmetic lines that reference STDs (I’ll just leave that right there). Are we in The Twilight Zone or what? And because we’re kind of contradictorily reckless right through here, it’s as if science and spirituality have taken a back seat (hell, are they even in the car anymore?) when it comes to sex.

Take body counts (again, I really do think that it should be called something else, yet for the sake of this article, let’s go with it), for example. In a world where so many people say that sex is no big deal and yet they implode at the thought of cheating (some of y’all will catch that later), it’s like most people ONLY see sex from a recreational view — and there is so much more to it than that.

The spiritual component of sex, we’ll have to get into it at another time. What I will say for now is that even Scripture says sex makes two people one (I Corinthians 6:16-20 — Message) — whether you “feel that way” or not. Okay, but since spirituality means different things to different people, let’s factor in science.

There are studies that reveal virgins have the lowest divorce rates , and the fewer sex partners you have before marriage , the more you increase your chances of having a more satisfying sex life during it. At the same time, another study revealed something that’s “interestingly odd”: women with two OR 10-plus partners had a greater chance of divorcing than anyone else (still pondering what that’s about). Then, if we look from a strictly health-related stance, reportedly, those with 10 or more partners increase their risk of being diagnosed with cancer , while another report shares that multiple sex partners increase the chance of having substance abuse issues later on in life ( especially in women ).

Also, multiple partners can cause greater feelings of low self-esteem (that’s according to the American Psychological Association). Not only that , but casual sex can also make pair bonding difficult; that’s because the various “oxytocin highs” can literally decrease how your brain connects with another person. Interestingly enough , another study said that having no or lots of sexual partners in “any given year” can also increase your chances of divorce too. Not to mention the fact that some studies reveal that men nor women are thrilled about their long-term partners having more than 2-3 sex partners prior to them.

Honestly, I could go on and on, yet I think you get the gist. While folks are on “former Twitter” talking about sex doesn’t have any real consequences, so you shouldn’t give your sexual choices much thought. But, those who actually study it for a living? They say otherwise. So, whenever you’re having a body count discussion, debate, or argument, as everyone is sharing their opinions, it’s probably a good idea to bring some bona fide facts into play, too.

Next point.

3.   Consider Your Why

Okay, so what about when it comes to your own personal body count? Is it anyone’s business? The short answer is “no” — no, it’s not. The reason why I say that is because anything that is related to private information is a privilege and not a right. So no, no one should pressure or shame you into providing it. That said, though, I do think you should do some reflecting on why you don’t want to talk about it — I don’t mean on a social media thread (necessarily) but with anyone. Because again, no you don’t have to; however, if you pondered why you feel that way, it could reveal a few things — not to them but to yourself.

Is it simply that you are private, over and out? Or do you have some sort of shame or guilt surrounding some of your past (or current) sexual choices? Is there some part of you who is afraid of how you’ll be perceived if folks know how many people you’ve been with? Are there some things about your sexual past that, if you were to talk about your body count, would reveal some things that go way beyond the surface?

It's one thing to keep things from other people; however, it’s another thing entirely to suppress thoughts and feelings to yourself, and trust me, I have coached enough people to know that some people don’t want to talk about their body counts because they don’t want to deal with all that comes with it. Bottom line, if you’re not forthcoming with anyone else, make sure that YOU are with YOU.

4. Consider Their Why Too


Some folks are nosy. Some people like to use information against others. Some people are just messy as hell. We all know it. And so, if you’re keeping your body count to yourself because you want to shield yourself from what you discern will be nothing but toxic rhetoric, I totally get it. At the same time, I do think that there are some individuals who may want to know for other reasons.

Take a woman I know who was pretty sexually active in high school. When she met her now ex-husband in college, she lied and said that she was a virgin — well, a (so-called) born-again virgin (major eye roll). Listen, something that I’m big on is personal accountability , and when it comes to virginity , YOU ARE A VIRGIN ONE TIME. You can be a (as the church folks say it) “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) all you want, but that doesn’t change hardcore facts, and to tell someone that you’ve never had sex before when you have is dishonest — and I don’t see anything that is “God-fearing” about that.

Anyway, he was a licensed therapist who had done a lot of research on how sexual history affects one’s ability to bond with their partner. He was also a virgin, and so, for him, he felt that her past would have a direct influence on their future. I mean, I’ve already provided intel to show that he’s not totally off-base there, yet the main point is, although she could’ve taken the route of, “You can trust who I am now and accept me, or we can break up”, she lied. He found out later (years later, an ex came back into her life; LONG STORY) and divorced her — not because of her past but because she wasn’t real about it. And I totally get why he felt that way. As a wise person once said, “One lie can dispel a thousand truths.”

Listen, some of y’all aren’t gonna agree with the “checkmate” here, but if you want to know all about your man’s relational history and yet you draw the line at your sexual past — why? What’s the difference? If his details reveal a potential pattern, that same logic could apply to you. At the same time, if his past made him who he is and you love that, also, the same logic on your end. Yeah, one of the main things that goes overlooked on this entire body count thing is it isn’t so much about the sex; it’s about the mindset and choices and how they influence who we all are in the present.

And there are some people, based on the kind of relationship they have with you, who are curious about that. That doesn’t make them the devil; you’ve just got to decide if their way of thinking works for you — or not.

5. Be Honest: Does HIS Body Count Matter to You?


Speaking of gender wars, Imma tell y’all what — very few things are more irritating than blatant hypocrisy. For instance, someone once posted their own unofficial case study where he first tweeted out that women deserve more than a man with kids; it received over 12,000 likes. When he then turned around and said that men deserved more than a single mom , it only got around 2,000 likes. Please don’t tell me that you don’t see the blatant hypocrisy there. *le sigh*

Same thing goes for the whole body count thing. If you really are standing ten toes down that your sexual history is your business, it really needs to go on record that so is his. Yeah, I know that some of y’all are like, “Cool. No problem” yet let me reiterate what I just touched on a second ago: while (some) guys may want to know your literal and actual number, many women tend to be more cryptic than that. Wanting to know details about his past relationships when it comes to intimacy that’s no better.

If your perspective is your body count should hold no relevance, so should his — again, it goes both ways. So, either be willing to “care and share” or both of you come to the conclusion that so long as your past stays in the past and your STI/STD test comes out negative (because you do take annual STI/STD tests, right?), that’s all that matters.

One final point.

6. In Conclusion, Numbers Are (Somewhat) Subjective. Make Your Own Peace.


Years ago, back when my own body count was sitting at 10, I spoke at a local college here (one that isn’t getting the funding that it deserves ; just needed to throw that in because it’s ridiculous). The topic was sex and relationships , so I was prepared for just about anything. When one of the students asked about my body count, and I shared, the class was almost at a 50/50 split. Meaning, half was like, “ That’s it? ” while the other was like, “Wow!” — one even verbally expressed how much they thought it was a lot. It didn’t phase me in the least, either side, because that’s how humans are, chile: things can be a lot or a little based on how people see the world.

And when it comes to a topic like body counts — upbringing, religious views, influence…they all play a part in whether more than one body is doing the most or having over 100 is. That’s why, in many ways, you have to come to your own conclusions about how you feel — about your count, about the subject matter in general, and about how your partner (or future partner) rolls.

What I will say as I draw this to a close, though, is if you’re proud of the things that you’ve done or at least have learned from them, that should knock out a lot of the triggering right there because whether you choose to share or only you and your Creator know what’s up, if you’ve truly made peace with your own life, body count debates shouldn’t get to you.

Just read ‘n scroll…read ‘n scroll as you watch others who need to figure out their “whys”.

You know yours — and it’s all good. And you mean that.

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Omar Epps might have had his claim to fame in the 90s, starring in Black film classics like Juice , The Wood , Higher Learning , and who could forget Love & Basketball ? But these days, the 50-year-old actor has also added writing to his repertoire. Omar recently published his second book, a dystopian novel, Nubia: The Reckoning . When he is not writing or starring in Power Book III: Raising Kanan , something else Omar has a lot of passion and purpose in is his love for his rock, his wife, Keisha Epps.

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