Setting the Record Straight: An Open Letter to Wale


I couldn’t decide whether to look like I’m angry with Wale, or melodramatic because this *is* an open letter haha. PS: It’s late and I’ve been wearing my church clothes all day. I look a mess.

Dear Wale…
Just kidding! Am I the only one who has a hard time not laughing at open letters to people they don’t know? ‘To the Woman Who Stared Too Long and Too Hard at My Flashy Shoes, Mismatched Socks and Sour Disposition’. I kid, I kid. Although what these ‘letters’ talk about may be important in its own right, the open letter format and their cringe inducing titles take away from the issues they address. Anyways, I do have quite a bit (too much?) to say about the the whole Wale Instagram thing. It’s not even directed at Wale, but his post got me thinking.
First of all, his post was a nice gesture. He realized something he and other men have done, and called himself and others out on it. I truly commend him for it. He tried to be inspirational, and in many senses he was. He’s trying y’all, cut him some slack! Honestly most of what he said truly was good, ya know? He even addressed the whole ‘I did it for me/I don’t care what you think’ train of thought by stating, “Some girls say they don’t care what anybody thinks… I find it difficult to believe one would alter their body this significantly for themselves.”

*start of mini rant* You have the right to do what you want with your body and don’t have to answer any person (except the law) for it. But with things like women shaving their body hair and other forms of body modification- Yes, you may do it because you personally like it, but you cannot honestly tell me that cultural norms didn’t affect your decision to do so. Even if they don’t affect your decision now, they might have at other times. If  it’s not shaving your legs, then it could be any other cultural norm whether it be eurocentric beauty standards or traditional gender roles. Of course some folks truly don’t care, but many of the changes we make to ourselves come from insecurities. Where does that insecurity come from? I feel like (although I’ve been know to be wrong quite often) you have to have other people to compare yourself to for there to be such deep seeded insecurities. But again, some folks just wanna look or be a certain way, and that’s a-okay. *mini rant over*

In Wale’s ‘uplifting’ post he says, “Dear black women this has to stop. This is not attractive. As black men we apologise for misleading you to believe this is the quintessential black woman.”

HOLD UP! I’m not too mad that he doesn’t find unnatural looking body modifications unattractive. That’s his prerogative (right? am I just being insensitive?). But because he finds it unattractive it has to stop. He doesn’t simply say ‘ew, i don’t like this’ (which would be rude, but again, his prerogative) he says it has to stop. He then goes on to apologize for the stupid standards black men (and everyone else, black women included) push onto black women. So as I lay in the floor trying to get to sleep, I pondered the implications of these statements. Is this an actual apology for the crap we’re subjected to on the daily, or just another plea for us to fit into ‘sexy’ beauty standards? If he found the butt implants attractive, would he care as much about uplifting us? After reading the whole post, I personally believe that he does care about building up black women, but Wale isn’t the only one who posts these long pleas to women.

Something that I’ve noticed is that when people (often men) post ‘inspirational’ messages about women’s bodies, they are frequently tied to what they want from women. These posts don’t usually say ‘Women, you need to love yourselves because you’re awesome and important as an independently functioning human being,’ but rather ‘Love yourself so that I can love you fully’ or ‘Don’t wear lots of makeup because I want to see your beautiful face’ and ‘Don’t starve yourself because nobody wants a skeleton’. Notice how it always ends with their feelings? It’s not always or even usually done out of spite, malice, or aggressive purposeful misogyny.  What these people don’t realize is that those words are the nicer sounding equivalent of what they are trying to ‘save’ us from. They are literally asking us to do something so that they will be satisfied with our appearance and/or disposition. THAT IS THE PROBLEM. The problem isn’t plastic surgery, injections, makeup or short skirts. The problem is that no one will uplift me, unless they somehow gain from the transaction. Am I not worth something on my own merit as a human being? Not as a physical image to behold, or a potential vessel for your unborn offspring, your token black friend, or any other group I may fall into, but simply as me, no strings attached?

That got heavy and ragey and semi-personal towards the end. Sorry. But not really, ’cause ending things on a dreary note is kind of my trade mark (at least in real life haha). Here’s some 2Pac, because that’s kinda  how I’m feeling after this whole spiel. Also, I did not mean to make it so long. Whoops!

*Again (or maybe not again. I don’t remember haha) this was not to call out Wale, because I appreciate most of what he said. It just got me thinking about the masses of quotes that are supposed to inspire people, not just women, but instead end up putting folks right back in the box they started out in.

** And I really appreciate the other nice stuff you’ve said in defense of black women in the past, Wale (and everybody else who says good nice uplifting things haha)