Last week, fatherhood started trending on Twitter, provoking women everywhere to tear up a little - myself included. It all started when Iman Shumpert posted a picture of himself and daughter Junie, smiling and laughing for the camera. Immediately, fathers of Twitter followed suit, posting photos of themselves with their own daughters (and sons). I thought about my father, who was a part of my life as a child but has been mostly absent from my life. I thought about my son's father, who kisses his forehead and tells him he's "amazing" every chance he gets.
As black women, we have high hopes for fathers. Whether they are our own, or the men we choose to be fathers to our own children. Fathers impact us greatly, and as black women they can absolutely shape how we value ourselves - whether they are present our entire life or absent. Our parents determine how we will interact in intimate relationships for the rest of our lives. My mother taught me how to be a fiercely supportive friend. My father taught me how to be really hard on myself -
At some point, a man is going to affirm your physical beauty. He may even tell you what it's worth to him or attempt to speak for all men. You may not be asking for this affirmation, or perhaps you will be longing for it deep inside. That affirmation might come from a guy you meet at a party or a magazine ad created by male-dominated corporations or a JayZ song. Whether or not we like it, we are all impacted by what we feel when we look in the mirror. When you’re a black girl, and you are constantly told that you are insignificant - pretty can matter a lot.
The Other Kind of "Daddy Issues"
Last week, xoNecole posted this to Twitter:
Gabrielle Union, during an exclusive interview with xoNecole, described what she realized while standing in line to audition for a TuPac video in 1994:
“My self-esteem was so low that all I wanted was to be chosen [for a Tupac video]. For so many of us, we chase that and it isn’t necessarily just girls that weren’t raised with a father–my dad was there every day.”“He told me positive affirmations but my dad never said I was pretty. ‘That’s a great crossover’, ‘Nice jump shot’, ‘You’re so smart,’ but I was never validated for my looks. My parents thought that was the best route because you don’t validate young black girls for their looks; you validate them for their achievements.”
The reactions we received in response on Twitter and on Facebook ran the gamut. Some commenters through Gabrielle should just be happy she’s rich and famous. Others didn’t see the point of complaining about a fiercely present father just because he neglected to say, “you’re pretty”. Quite a few people felt confirmed that physical affirmation from their fathers was something they either needed but did not receive, or received with great appreciation.
Either way, two things were made extremely clear. Emotional needs are exclusive the individual and how they perceive support and even women raised with active fathers can have “daddy issues”.
Why Pretty Matters to Black Girls
Beauty is about empowerment and self-expression as well as defining yourself unapologetically. But, the reason this movement is so detrimental to our existence is because at some point, the wrong person told us we were pretty. And they probably told us we were pretty for the wrong reason.
So what happens when you are always affirmed for what you do but never for what you look like? There is a fine line between self-affirmation and needing your worth affirmed by others. Treading that line takes some very honest self-exploration.
So why is this element of parental support so important to - if not all black women - some black women? There are a few other statistics that come into play when it comes to how black women walk through this life. According to the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, 40% of black women report coercive sexual conduct by the age of 18. Black women are also three times more likely to experience intimate partner violence. We are the least likely to make as much as our male counterparts in the corporate world. Black women face incredible challenges every day and confidence plays a part in how we deal with every single adversity. Confidence in our abilities and confidence in our attributes.
The Hard Truth About Black Women and Our Fathers
For Gabrielle Union, sexual abuse has played a major role in her life. She has been endearingly transparent about her own experiences shortly before the debut of Nate Parker's Birth of a Nation and more recently in her new book We're Going to Need More Wine which dropped this week.Regarding the damage that comes with surviving rape, perhaps knowing that she was more than an object that could be picked up and thrown back down by at will, just might have been circumvented by fatherly reassurance.
To say that Black women are not deeply affected by our interactions with the men in our life would be doing a disservice to our very evolution. We have come a long way, but it's also perfectly ok to want and need to feel pretty. It's ok to need to hear that from a man you trust and adore. It's also ok to decide you don't need that kind of outside confirmation at all. Ultimately we have to take ownership of what we want, need, never received or carry on without. Because believing your own worth is vital in the business of moving mountains.
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.
Watching Angela “Blac Chyna” White’s transformation in real-time has truly been a sight to see. It wasn’t that long ago that she announced that she was reversing her cosmetic surgeries in an effort to go back to who she was before the world came to know her as Blac Chyna. In previous interviews, she stated that she was dissolving her facial and lip fillers, removing her breast implants, and getting a butt reduction, as well as removing the dimple piercings that enhanced her fame and controversial tattoos.
In a recent Tamron Hall interview, the mother of two said that she has “fully recovered” from the procedures. She is also celebrating one year of sobriety and opened up about being worried about how her new journey would be received by others.
“I’ve been in the entertainment industry for so long, right, and of course, like, you know, coming out, I’m like young, I’m gonna do wild things as we all have,” she said.
“...I feel like by me being vocal and showing everybody you can change your life and things can get better, like through myself, that right there is an accomplishment, and that’s a part of freedom, too.”
But as she started on her journey, many people have shown her grace, which is something she’s grateful for. “And then the fact that people have been showing me grace, it’s like amazing,” she said. “And I feel like when I did it, I just did it. It was more so like spiritual thing and I feel like people see that, and I’ve always been like my authentic self, so what you see is kinda what you get with me, and that’s just kinda what it is.”
Chyna, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Sacramento Theology Seminary and Bible College, has also repaired her relationship with her mom, Tokyo Toni. The social media celebrity surprised her daughter on the Tamron Hall Show. Prior to the sentimental surprise, Chyna dished on the reconciliation and having a better understanding of her mom.
“I must say, some of the things I have to take accountability for because, like my actions. As a mother, you don’t want to see your daughter doing certain things ‘cause it’s like it doesn’t matter what my past was or what we’re going through, I didn’t raise you that way,” she admitted. “So, it’s like, okay, maybe I was a little bit wrong. Maybe I was acting out a little bit. But I feel like as we grow older, I kinda see more, and I understand more.”
Chyna will be starring in season two of Fox's reality competition show Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.
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Feature image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images