The announcement that Netflix acquired the 90's sitcom Moesha has given us all nostalgia. Still, minutes into season one, everyone, including Jasmyn Lawson, editorial manager of Netflix's Strong Black Lead had to admit that Kim was treated like trash.
Yeah, Moesha was big trash, especially towards Kim. Oooo. I am not ready for the think piece tweets— Jasmyn (@JasmynBeKnowing) August 1, 2020
Minutes into season one of Moesha it was clear: she was there to be the butt of every joke. Her friends weren't kind to her, and when Moesha wasn't picking her apart, she was chasing Hakeem, who visibly wasn't interested. It was hard to watch, and I wondered how actress Countess Vaughn felt playing a character like Kim. Ultimately, the show's takeaways are a mirror of the times, and the thoughts and feelings of those in the writer's room.
Still, that doesn't change the lasting impression that many plus-sized women felt with them after all of Black Twitter re-watched Moesha together. Seeing Kim made me question how I saw myself growing up.
My weight has fluctuated since childhood, but when I think back to the years that I hated how I looked, I realized that I wasn't even overweight. I developed a lot faster than my friends, and by thirteen, I had the body of a grown woman. But I stood out, and everyone saw and I was picked on a lot. By girls who didn't like me, adults in my family, and guys I went to school and church with. So at almost 30, it's clear why I gravitated towards The Parkers, Vaughn's spin-off and not Moesha. I didn't like Moesha because I didn't feel seen. And chances are if you're reading this and you're plus size, you didn't feel seen either. But how could you?
On cable television, 90% of women featured are not plus size. 67% of American women wear a size 14. This is why when we have the opportunity to have plus size women on screen, we need more from their characters. And why characters such as Kelli from Insecure are a clear indication of the necessary work we still have left to do.
I wish I could say that scenes where Kelli is overly flirtatious and often the butt of the joke (when she peed on herself at Coachella, or got fingered underneath a table while she proclaimed that it was her 'cheat day', another stereotype of plus size women fad dieting) weren't just in poor taste. Still, they can have a lasting effect as studies show "overweight girls who internalize fat stereotypes report low psychosocial well-being" and feelings of inadequacy.
To dismiss the reality of these stereotypes that fat women have higher sex drives, no self-control, or tell jokes so that they don't become the joke, is cringeworthy on screen.
And while I love that Kelli is seen working and showing up for her friends, why is she the only character on Insecure that we've never seen in a relationship? We've been through hell and back with Issa and Lawrence, been to Tiffany's baby shower and seen her battle postpartum depression, met Andrew's brother and weird wife on vacation - and we've never even seen the inside of Kelli's bedroom.
Ask yourself why that is.
Watching #Moesha in my 30s hits different now. The fat shaming of Kim aka Countess Vaughn from the pilot onwards has me shook. I know it was the 90s, but DAMN! Every episode a Fat Joke?! I really wonder what that does to a young actor’s self esteem week after week on set?— Danielle Pinnock (@bodycourage) August 1, 2020
Vaughn's character Kim shined in her hit spin-off The Parkers, but Oscar-winning actress Monique dealt with so much fatphobia. The plot was her chasing Professor Oglevee for the show's entire run, while his thin love interest Veronica often commented on what she deemed to be her "grotesque" body; all for Nikki to finally end up with Stanley at the end, after she fell in love with a man who loved her for her. And shows like The Game that displayed Malik Wright hiding his "fetish" for big girls when he told his secret love interest Renee that she couldn't go to the door in his sneakers because he didn't want to blow their cover, as if being seen with her would've been career suicide. The media has made it clear with its slander of Lizzo that the world doesn't see it for fat women, but when our own people create stereotypical characters, it makes us question how they see us and to be frank -- it's triggering.
The stereotypes that are placed on plus size women weren't something I experienced until I was grown, and by that point I'd already known that every man didn't treat us that way. But what about the women who've never seen anything but what is portrayed in the media?
Where are the plus size women that are just women, who live full lives, have sex scenes like Brely Evans' character on OWN's Ambitions, Rondell Lancaster? We need more of them; we deserve more of them, it's been time. What I loved about 90's TV characters like Living Single's Khadijah and Synclair, who's weight was never even mentioned and they lived their lives, and had sex scenes, often. Queen Latifah's character owned her own business, had a long-lasting relationship, and Synclair was happily married on-screen, as a plus-size woman. They were women with goals, ambitions, families, and partners that we saw visibly on a weekly basis.
Which is why Vaughn's spin-off meant so much to me. She dated and was showered with love by the men who courted her, had her own business, had great friends, and she was the fashion icon we never knew we needed. It gave me the confidence to experiment with my clothes, know that I was worthy of men dating me with intention, and it solidified my relationship with my mother.
Kim's character revamp was what we needed, and as much as we love Brandy, Moesha will forever be a reminder of the times we lived in when we weren't seen as equal. Where even on our own shows Black women weren't protected. As a community, plus-size women share an experience of pain and lack of acceptance, but we are so much more than that.
So, for anyone who watched Moesha and didn't feel like you were enough, know that I see you, I love you, I am you, and we are more than enough.
Here's to all the shows that will be written that our daughters will have to look to for encouragement, not images that will retraumatize them years later.
Featured image via Tenor
Dubbed one of the "21 Black Women Wellness Influencers You Should Follow" by Black + Well, Yasmine Jameelah continues to leave her digital footprint across platforms ranging from Forever 21 Plus, Vaseline, and R29 Unbothered discussing all things healing and body positivity. As a journalist, her writing can be found on sites such as Blavity, Blacklove.com, and xoNecole. Jameelah is also known for her work shattering unconventional stigmas surrounding wellness through her various mediums, including her company Transparent Black Girl. Find Yasmine @YasmineJameelah across all platforms.
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.
2023 has become the year of celebrity breakups with headlines breaking left and right about celebs filing for divorce or ending high-profile relationships. The latest couple to announce their dissolution? British actress Jodie Turner-Smith. TMZ reported that Jodie has filed for a divorce from her husband, Dawson Creek alum Joshua Jackson.
As far as her reason for calling it quits, Jodie cited "irreconcilable differences," according to TMZ, and has requested joint custody of the couple's daughter, Juno Rose Diana Jackson. Late last year there were rumblings of there being "trouble in paradise" for the couple after the media realized they were no longer following each other on Instagram.
Those rumors were more than laid to rest when Jodie and Joshua went to the 2023 Oscars together earlier this year, and even more recently, when they celebrated her birthday together last month during the September unveiling of the Lotus Emeya.
Jodie Turner-Smith celebrates her birthday with husband Joshua Jackson at the unveiling of the new fully-electric Lotus Emeya on September 07, 2023 in New York City.
Brian Ach/Getty Images for Lotus
Despite seeming particularly happy and in love, perhaps the writing was already written on the wall even then. In the past, Jodie has been very celebratory publicly about her love for her estranged husband, even boldly recounting their love story for the books in a 2021 interview with Seth Meyers.
When Jodie and Joshua met, it was while at his birthday party in 2018. Their relationship was hot and heavy from the start, with Jodie openly noting that they began as a "one-night stand." During her 2021 interview with Seth Meyers, she jokingly referred to their love story as a "three-year one-night stand." She shared:
"First of all, I saw him before he saw me and when I saw him, I was like, 'I want that.' And then when he saw me, I just pretended like I didn't see him. He had to yell across the room to me, and I was wearing this T-shirt from a movie called Sorry to Bother You and [actress] Tessa Thompson plays a character called Detroit, and she has this T-shirt that says, 'The Future Is Female Ejaculation.'
"And so, he shouts across the room, 'Detroit!' He comes over and… does this really cute, charming thing that he does and just all night -- he just basically followed me around the party."
The couple were together from that moment forth, and even made things "Instagram official" less than two weeks later while on a dinner date. Joshua would later clarify to Insider that the night they met in 2018 was not a 'one-night stand' or a 'three-year one-night stand' like his then-wife joked but instead, it was "technically a three-night stand."
"It was sealed with a kiss that night and then we didn't leave each other's sides for, well, three years now," Joshua continued at the time.
In a July 2021 interview with Jimmy Fallon, Joshua dropped more details about the why behind getting married. He revealed that he didn't know he wanted to get married to Jodie until "the moment she asked me."
"She asked me on New Year's Eve. We were in Nicaragua. It was very beautiful, incredibly romantic, we were walking down the beach and she asked me to marry her."
He added, "I did not know [she would propose], but she was quite adamant and she was right. This is the best choice I ever made."
Joshua Jackson Reveals Jodie Turner-Smith Proposed To Him
Jodie received quite a bit of flack for proposing to Joshua because it goes against tradition and what society sees as acceptable for a woman to do to a man, and proposing isn't one of them. No matter how much time has passed, the viewpoints around who should do the proposing and who should be proposed to are still very traditional.
After being on the receiving end of such backlash, Joshua would later clarify to the media in a separate interview that it wasn't just Jodie's proposal to him that sealed the deal of them getting married, he proposed to her too. She might have initiated it, but Joshua followed through.
"I accidentally threw my wife under the bus because that story was told quickly and it didn't give the full context and holy Jesus, the internet is racist and misogynist," he explained to Refinery29 that same year. "We were in Nicaragua on a beautiful moonlit night, it could not possibly have been more romantic."
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images
He continued, "And yes, my wife did propose to me and yes, I did say yes, but what I didn't say in that interview was there was a caveat, which is that I'm still old school enough that I said, 'This is a yes, but you have to give me the opportunity [to do it too].'"
"She has a biological father and a stepdad, who's the man who raised her. [I said], 'You have to give me the opportunity to ask both of those men for your hand in marriage.' And then, 'I would like the opportunity to re-propose to you and do it the old-fashioned way down on bended knee.' So, that's actually how the story ended up."
Joshua and Jodie would eventually marry in December 2019. Shortly thereafter, Jodie gave birth to the couple's first child, Janie, in 2020.
In a recent interview with Elle UK, Jodie shared the ways becoming a mother to Juno helped to heal her of her wounds from colorism she experienced in the past. "It's interesting because I had a lot of resistance to becoming a mother and, throughout my life, I always said if I were to have children, I wanted to have Black, Black babies so that I could affirm them as children with the love that I felt I needed to have been affirmed with by the outside world," Jodie shared with the outlet.
She continued, "Then I fell in love with my husband and we talked about having kids. I did have this mini pause, where I was like, 'She's going to be walking through the world not only having an experience that I did not have, but looking like people that, in a way, I'd always felt a little bit tormented by.' Now that I've got this little, tiny, light-skinned boss, I feel like it’s the universe teaching me lessons. I've been given a daughter who looks this way to heal my own conversations around colorism."
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Featured image by Amy Sussman/Getty Images