Smile For A Sista?

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(Our columnist LaVerne Curtis)

I have always wondered what brothers were griping about, when they complained of the bad attitudes that the black woman had.

All of my girlfriends are spiritual, mature and quite gregarious, so anything different was beyond my comprehension. It wasn’t until I made my rite of passage from childhood to adolescence, that I began to feel the apparent animosity that some women have towards one another.

I thought it was a mere coincidence that in the grocery store, department store and nightclubs, women were “staring each other down.� Most of the time, not even attempting to hide it, they had a knack for doing quick inventory. Since most women are concerned with the details of a situation, and men want the bottom line. It is still quite amazing to our male counterparts, that in a matter of seconds, a woman can describe another woman right down to the flavor of gum she is chewing. Oh, and don’t think for one second it is a racial issue, because Caucasian women do the exact same thing.

Okay a lot of us are checking out the latest style in shoes, hair or clothing, and it seems to be an art to it all. But when is the last time another sister smiled your way, or even said hello? In my quest to figure this out, I have consciously and purposely done my own sideline research. When I am dressed in my office attire opposed to my sweats and sneakers, there is an obvious and definite difference in the response I get from other women.

Maybe this all has to do with the fact that everybody from the media to our parents, and ultimately, the men in our lives, has put us in the position of silent competition with one another. In our defense, we have constantly been bombarded with various images and examples of the “right way� to look, dress, feel and talk. Rarely have we been encouraged to nurture our spirit, mind and soul, which are the true cornerstones of our being. Think of how different things would be if instead of little girls being sent to charm schools and beauty pageants, they were taught how to meditate and truly stay connected to the Creator.

I guess that wouldn’t sell many magazines, and the content of most of our soap operas and talk shows would be considered boring, with ratings plummeting. Could it be that we are all too afraid to face ourselves, and deal with our own skeletons? To live vicariously through others’ on television, in music videos and motion pictures, is much easier. Just as men need to know that they have permission to express their emotions, without being the brunt of locker room jokes, a woman needs to know that it is alright to close her eyes, honor her breathing, and exhale as many times as she desires, without being criticized.

The external is only but one facet of what the true essence of a woman is. Our mothers and mother’s mothers toiled the land, cooked the meals and still had time to honor family and their God. As you can see Calvin Klein, Versace and Donna Karan didn’t make the list. When it’s all said and done, and the day is over, we, as women need to stop allowing others dominion over our lives, to dictate and define what it means to be a woman.

It is my hope that one day, the world will be filled with happy, spirit-filled women, whose comfort and confidence in themselves is enough. The energy expended on beautifying the outside, could better be used on the inner journey of SELF.

So you -- on the elevator, at the traffic light, and in line at the bank – I ask, “can a sista� spare a smile?’ 

LaVerne N. Curtis ©2006. Columnist LaVerne is currently working as a Senior Editor and Freelance Columnist, with nationally published works to include “Love…According to L,� a monthly AOL Black Voices column; and “L’s Motivational Minute,� a monthly motivational women’s column for Soul Sistas

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