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Dear Queen: To The Woman Who Struggles To Celebrate Herself

Dear Queen

Dear Queen is a series dedicated to letters from women written for themselves and other women. Have a "Dear Queen" letter? We want to read it! E-mail your letters to submissions@xonecole.com with the subject: Dear Queen.

To the woman who struggles to celebrate herself:

I see you.


Although you may feel as though the crown you wear is chipped, oversized, and at times too heavy to carry, you and your accomplishments still matter. Your successes and accomplishments are still valid no matter the size, journey or criticized judgment from others around you.

At times, you allow your anxiety to trump your creativity and your own happiness. I am writing to you because I want to share a message: what you accomplish, create and work toward is larger than that defeat. It may be tough, letting the vibes of anxiety and weariness pass a frequency to you that presses you down, making you believe that your self-celebrations do not matter.

Last week, my fellow Queen had to pass a gentle reminder to myself, celebrating yourself is the first step to self-care. If you do not celebrate you first, how can you allow others to celebrate and support you?

Playing Superwoman is in your nature. It is ingrained in you to help, heal and listen to others but who is your Superwoman?

It can be you, if you allow it to be. You can give yourself the surprise dinners, positive affirmations and pats on the back for accomplishing a milestone, no matter the weight.

No matter how small the accomplishment or how large the failure, the first step is recognizing that you put in the effort to go toward something you wanted.

It can be easy to swim into a sea of regret or trip on our words but what matters most is that you tried.

Struggling with perfectionism is something that has caused blockage in my own journey to celebrating myself; so I am writing this letter to share that there is beauty in imperfection. Although it may be hard to see, there is someone else who finds your courage, strength and compassion motivating, so don't dim your own light.

You cannot always expect others to be excited about what God is doing in your life, but what you can work toward is more self-celebration. Your accomplishments are not measured by how many applauds you receive, how many "likes" or comments are posted and your accomplishments are truly not defined by how much someone else accepts them.

You eagerly wait for the "we regret to inform you..." rejection or you expect the worst when submitting your best work. You consistently put your best foot forward but forget to allow yourself grace in the process. At times, your charisma and laughter can light up a room but behind closed doors, you secretly hide the fact that you are battling between being proud of your current accomplishments and being too hard on yourself, your own worst enemy saying "you need to go a little harder."

As stated above, allow yourself grace.

You often silence yourself and your accomplishments due to fear of outshining someone else or being criticized for having the motivation and courage to go toward something they may actually want but are too afraid themselves; GO FOR IT.

Do not allow yourself to be a victim of self-sabotage, celebrate your joy and the need to want to see your accomplishments come to fruition.

There is value in reflecting on how far you have come. To see yourself and the growth you have made over the years is something within itself to celebrate. The habits you have broken, the relationships you have ended, the toxicity that you have wiped clean out of your life has helped you elevate to new heights, and it deserves a celebration.

So when you pick up your pen to create art, when you book a solo trip, when you apply for that job or institution, most importantly when you overall do something that you want to do that allows all your courage, strength and self-belief, celebrate yourself and the accomplishment.

Celebrate yourself more in 2019 and beyond! Acknowledge even the small accomplishments.

To the woman who struggles to celebrate herself,

I see you.

Signed,

A black woman working toward celebrating herself, her crown and all the failures that make the successes worth it!

*Originally published on Heather Jhene

Heather J. Macon is a writer, published author, blogger residing in Georgia. As a self-care advocate, Heather enjoys blogging and writing poetry on the topics of self-care, self-love and journeying as a young adult. She is a self-published author of "Watering her Roots," a collection of poetry, prose and letters.

Featured image by Getty Images

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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