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Married Couples For Jesus | Seriously Single

 

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It’s funny how the things you rebel against in your adolescence bite you in the butt when you grow up. For better or for worse, I have always been a person who felt sure of herself. I was always sure I wanted to get married.  It just felt like what you do. There is a song by Wale where he says he’s in his mid-twenties and still never been to a wedding. I grew up in the church I’ve been a flower girl at least 4 times and I’ve lost count of the number of weddings I’ve attended. I was born to a married couple and their circle of friends was married. I have three Uncles, one is single by choice and he’s not exactly bachelor of the year. I have two aunts and one is single. Singles are in the minority in my family.  Getting married is expected.

I grew up in a girl gets married environment. What I didn’t want was to marry a preacher or marry a guy from church. Nope, I was too cool and free spirited for that. I felt like a guy from church would have high religious expectations of me and I needed to be free. Why sign up for a race I know I couldn’t win. All I knew was that I cuss when I get angry, I wanted to move to New York City and dance in nightclubs.  Basically, I wanted to be Parker Posey in Party Girl.  A church guy would be against me and not for me.

Now that I’m a 31-year-old single mother to my 15-year-old daughter, I can describe myself as a former serial monogamist. I think Erykah Badu may have described me best as a “recovering undercover over-lover”. I have had my share of worldly men and I can honestly say there are times when I say, “I could have been in Married Couples for Jesus!”. Married Couples for Jesus was a group at my church.  I feel like the name is self-explanatory. It was an auxiliary for married couples. They would go out on group dates and even renew their vows as a group at times. It was basically activities for married couples because going to secular music concerts, the movies or night clubs was well frowned upon.

As a teenager, I was concerned about having a husband who would prohibit me from going to a Prince concert. I didn’t realize that my upbringing was shaping my expectations of my future partner. I grew up seeing men date women.  Single men took women on dates.  Married men took women on dates. It’s just what you did. They treated women well. Anything less would just be downright foolish. I witnessed men court women because they wanted to get married (ok this is a group of people abstaining from sex until marriage, or who at least want to give off the appearance of waiting).

I grew up in an environment where your partner was a reflection of you. If a man wasn’t taking good care of his wife it was a bad reflection on him. A man and his wife were one in the same so if his wife showed up to church looking bad he looked bad. It was a different sense of responsibility for men and women within their relationship.  It was more than just keeping up with appearances,  your spouse was a part of you.

With that being said, I haven’t been on many dates lately. To date a man with no concept of this environment is hard. I have a completely different view on how men should treat women. Some of the men who I have been in relationships with felt I had high, unattainable standards. Outside of church, there is the concept of a couple being two independent entities. You bring what you bring and I bring what I bring and we pick and chose what we share.

In today’s world, a woman must prove herself worthy of being married. It’s almost as if you have to be a man’s wife for a long time before he even considers marrying you.  Where in church it went without saying that the woman was good. Church men proved themselves worthy and stable enough to afford a wife. Lots of couples are happy to be together for long periods of time without being married, which is fine. I just know a lot of women who feel like they have to prove themselves worthy and get disappointed when the relationship doesn’t end in marriage. Which leads to this idea that every relationship that doesn’t lead to marriage is a failure. I don’t think that’s true.  I think failure is when a woman fails to acknowledge that she is single and refuses to audition for the part of the wife because it’s not a requirement.

In no way do I think “church couples” are perfect. No, I identified the cons of being a church couple before I saw the pros, not to mention you could be courted and well kept only to realize that you got married just to have socially acceptable sex and be divorced before your twenty-fifth birthday.

There is no safety zone for women who wish to be married. No magic formula or perfect audience to present yourself to. Married Couples for Jesus is just a moment of clarity that made me realize why I have different expectations than some of the men who I have dated. Being a badass at church camp made me feel like such a rebel but maybe I just had more questions than all of the other teenagers. My set of values isn’t as far from those in Married Couples for Jesus as I initially thought. (My 15-year-old self just screamed at that sentence!)

My fascination with the world was only met by the reality that there are pros and cons to every dating scenario. I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, so no regrets. Maybe there is some guy out there who felt like a badass rebel at church camp too and has realized worldly women aren’t all they’re cracked up to be either. Maybe he’ll court me at the exact moment that he should in exactly the way he should. I won’t have high expectations at that point it will be shared values and not totally unrealistic. Although he won’t be able to take me to a Prince concert maybe we can go to The Roots Picnic and then go to church on Sunday. Clearly, I like churchmen more than I thought.

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Maybe I Do Care About Alicia Keys and #NoMakeup

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It was just a regular lunch hour for me endlessly caught up in what I like to call “the scroll” it’s when I just mindlessly scroll through Facebook like a zombie. I came across an article, Alicia Keys Has Started A #NoMakeup Movement, And It’s Amazing. I see a picture of Alicia she’s not wearing any makeup, and this is my immediate reaction:

“Alicia Keys with no makeup.”

“She’s still beautiful.”

“She’s pretty.”

“A pretty girl with no makeup.”

“If Alicia Key’s has come into self-acceptance, that’s awesome!”

“This is a lot of praise for a pretty girl who is a celebrity that has been photographed without wearing any makeup.”

“A celebrity who can afford to go to the dermatologist and get regular facials.”

“#NoMakeup????”

Basically, my first thought was that she looked beautiful. I hadn’t fully formed my opinion, but the disadvantage of a trending topic on social media is that people get cynical (myself included). I wasn’t going to bash Alicia Keys for her Aha moment, I just wasn’t about to give her a cookie for doing something I do all the time, show up to work with no makeup on.

Then I read the comments….

Women were not happy about #nomakeup because they said they didn’t want to stop wearing makeup. In the article. Alicia never stated that other women shouldn’t wear makeup.  She only said SHE didn’t want to cover up anymore. Her statements were about her personal journey. How did this picture of a bare faced Alicia Keys turn into a brawl?

Then I had a lightbulb moment, DUH, because women are a minority and when a minority makes it into the public eye they now represent all of us. Alicia is no longer allowed the same privilege that I take for granted of showing up to work not wearing any makeup.  Her job depends on how she looks. A perceived image can make people sensitive. I understand. I sometimes feel betrayed when an actress I thought looked perfectly fine loses weight. I feel like she’s falling into the ideals of society and leaving us regular women behind to join the stick thin Hollywood Illuminati. (If that’s even a thing)

Maybe the sea of makeup devotees felt left behind on a train they didn’t want to board because unlike Alicia; they can’t afford a dermatologist or get weekly facials. Alicia is a pretty celebrity who on the outside looking in doesn’t have much to hide. Hell, even without makeup Alicia is sitting under good lighting being photographed by a professional photographer. I thought to myself,  “Alicia just doesn’t understand our struggle our everyday woman struggle.  Kudos to you Alicia on the self-acceptance, but I won’t be throwing away any of my $60 eye shadow pallets anytime soon.”

Then I checked myself

I had just had a conversation with my best friend about how people try to pressure you into being the “old you”. When you truly experience growth you can’t go back to the “old you” and you don’t owe anyone an explanation on why you can’t live up to a past version of yourself. When things don’t change you get stale. Ready, ripe, rotten that is the process of fruit and people. Unlike fruit, we can’t force people into fermentation. (Alicia is a person, not wine! You can’t freeze her in time to make yourself more comfortable)

One woman’s journey does not represent us all and that concept needs to die. (period point blank). We can’t demand to be seen as multi-dimensional and then condemn women for evolving. In the great words of Queen Bey, Ok ladies now let’s get in formation. Form into a line where we support and applaud the change, growth, and evolution. As long as the next woman’s metamorphosis is healthy, I see no reason to take it as a personal attack on how you chose to be a woman. There is no one right of being a woman.

#NoMakeup For Real

The thought of not wearing no makeup doesn’t faze me. Ok, it does bother me I’m a confident person, but I prefer to control how people see me. I’d be a liar if I said the way I look doesn’t play into how I feel. As a matter of fact, my 7th-grade guidance counselor could expose me as the world’s biggest hypocrite.She could tell you a story of a student sent into her office crying hysterically. I mean full on tears, loud sobs from losing your breath while crying, snot, the works. You would have thought someone had died. When the student’s crying finally calmed just enough for the guidance consoler to ask what is wrong. The student shrieks, “MY HAIR IS NOT DONE!”

That crying student was me. I thought I could stay home sick (sick because my hair wasn’t done) from school. My mom didn’t care about my hair.  She made me go to school the with the world’s stingiest, harden gel filled, deconstructed french roll turned into a ponytail. My mom just dropped me off at school like she didn’t care about my feelings. (I was thirteen. I wasn’t picking up on the whole school is more important than your hair concept.) Like she couldn’t understand that a thirteen-year-old can not show up to school looking anything less than perfect. That day I learned a valuable lesson, always wash and blow dry your hair the night before or things can get ugly in the morning.

As women, some of our identity is attached to being visually appealing to the eye, as though we have nothing else to offer the world other than the way we look. Like our unpolished, bare faced selves aren’t worthy of being considered beautiful. The societal beauty standard is continually being raised and what we find visually appealing is starting to look less and less like #nomakeup. Real is becoming the new ugly.

Maybe I will send Alicia Keys a cookie because women deserve a prize for accepting their authentic selves. Maybe #NoMakeup isn’t about never wearing makeup again but about embracing our truth. Maybe it’s about finding the beauty in celebrating “I woke up like this, no for real.” Maybe it’s the strength some thirteen-year-old girl needs, so she doesn’t deep breath sob cry in her guidance counselor’s office. Maybe if we all just got into formation and stood in line with Alicia, then we could create a norm where showing up to work with no makeup on is an option for every job, even if your job is being a world renown entertainer like Alicia Keys.

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