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How Viral Memes Could Be Stunting Your Glow Up

Inspiration

I love a good inspirational meme or video, especially in my plight to successfully manage the aftermath of taking a risky, super-challenging, sometimes-can't-even-afford-a-dollar-burger leap into self-employment.


But let's get real here: Some of these social media self-help sadists---with their warped, tired versions of advice on how to glow up, must be stopped.

In the past few years, I've noticed a consistent undertone of struggle and insecurity in some of the so-called motivational content that often goes viral:

im-01.gifer.com

  • Let your haters be your motivators.
  • You can't start a business with a 9-to-5 mentality.
  • If you're not afraid, your dreams aren't big enough.
  • The best revenge is success.
  • Don't invest in those who have nothing to offer in return.

Oh, and let's not forget all the skewed descriptions of what it means to "boss up" or "be a boss"---those memes and videos that detail "what millionaires/bosses do" that we mere mortals "don't or won't." The worst of them always include strict, robotic, unrealistic "formulas" for success.

I liken the bombardment of such messaging to the rants of preachers claiming to save souls but only focusing on hell, "the enemy," and damnation with no mention of grace, love, truth, and forgiveness.

I'd read (and sometimes share) these messages, and then find myself thinking, "Hey, maybe I'm not working hard enough," or "Yeah, these haters. I gotta prove them wrong." I would totally revamp my week, push myself into habits and routines that were not a good fit, and conduct manic self-checks that caused me to feel inadequate and exhausted.

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Then, one day I had a major Girl, Bye moment. Just because I'm not a crack-of-dawn morning person ready to slay a never-ending to-do list every day, doesn't mean I'm not going to reach my goals.

The greatest leaders I admire are givers and look at life in a way that does not define every relationship by what someone can do for them. (I'm sure Oprah meets people who could never offer her anything nearly as tangibly "valuable" as the billions of dollars in her bank account, yet she pours into people all the time.)

And let's get into these invisible haters.

Why am I seeking "revenge" on anybody? I'm not a platinum-selling rapper or superhero out in these streets. I'm a regular girl with ambition and a loyal circle of friends and family. I have an 8-year-old niece who looks up to me, mimics almost everything I do, and calls me "famous." I don't even get trolled in my comment section.

Some of the "gurus," "influencers," and speakers who constantly feed us these warped narratives are oftentimes profiting and prospering not from our advancement and enlightenment, but from a constant, unhealthy craving for affirmation, envy, and acceptance.

Those same cravings fuel low self-esteem, procrastination, wickedness, and delusion.

Well, I finally said, "No more." I couldn't drink the pseudo-positivity Kool Aid anymore. I took three important steps toward weaning myself off the motivational-meme crack:

I gave my follow list a cleanse.

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If the person or org I was following constantly posted memes or videos about haters, struggle, "enemies," or sterile do's and don'ts (ie common-sense adages that black grannies been drilling in our heads since the devil was a baby), I unfollowed them.

I began to research the influencers, gurus, and motivational entrepreneurs I wanted to follow before committing to receive their messaging every day.

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I'd ask myself several key questions: Does this person or organization have tangible receipts that show consistent progress and happiness similar to how I define those concepts for myself? Does their life reflect anything I want to replicate in my life? Do they have solid training or experience in the area of which they focus on? Is the content they share relevant, balanced, timely, and useful to my life?

Hey, someone's social feed can seem so attractive and lit, but so does a $19.99 flash sale on a 30-inch blonde wig. Cute on the next girl but not quite right for me. Decline and unfollow, please.

I began to stay away from folks' timelines whose messaging constantly led with words or related concepts of "can't," "don't," or "won't."

People who constantly focus on what can't be done or who are always trying to be the Negative Ned masquerading as a "voice of reason" really annoy me. I'm into solutions. Call me overly optimistic or too full of faith, but I'm that girl who will say, "Ok, you don't have the money to do that. So what do you have? How can you get the money? What are our options?" If the messaging consistently focused on the don'ts, I'd hit the unfollow button with the quickness.

It's cool to gain inspiration in the form of a kick-in-the-butt every now and then, and it's definitely okay to share a girl-you-know-that's-right moment with a friend who needs encouragement. I just believe balance and discernment are key.

Let's enhance the motivation narrative with adages that celebrate who we are and where we're going, show love to those who ride for us and give credence to progress and sisterhood. The only motivation you need is you. Bump the haters.

Featured image by Getty Images

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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