The idea of the "Carefree Black Girl" was first introduced to me on my Instagram feed sometime in 2013 as an aesthetic. It was a a flood of images that portrayed light complected, long locked bohemians with an array of large bangles on thin wrists, perhaps a hoop nose ring and a colorful dashiki. The photographs were beautiful but in no way reflected me.
2013 was not my year. I was struggling with so many insecurities and a crippling sense of self-doubt. I graduated college and despite the fact that I had two impressive internships my last semester, I had no career prospects. I felt like a failure and a fraud as I went on countless interviews wearing uncomfortable pant suits in crippling summer heat, pretending to be interested in positions I felt either over or under-qualified for. My frustration turned to anger as the months wore on and I still didn't have that coveted salaried position at a cool magazine, television station or marketing company.
That's when I decided to begin MAYISM. It became an outlet… a way for me to express myself and (corny as it sounds) find out who I was, who I am. Through my writing, I began to develop a voice and understand what I stood for and what my purpose was. Writing put me at ease and through it, I got my first paid writing gig.
By 2014, the Carefree Black Girl had become more than a hashtag that portrayed some Lisa Bonet archetype. It embodied an image of Black women as creative, brilliant, beautiful, empowered and most of all happy. My transformation was just beginning.
While I always embraced my dark skin tone, my hair in its natural state was not welcomed. I took pride in having long, silky straight tresses and whenever my roots would begin to betray me with puffy, unruly hair, I'd rush to the salon for a fresh relaxer. I'd see "natural girls" and say, "It looks good on you, but I could never pull that off."
Between the ages of twelve and twenty-two, I refused to wear shorts. I would silently compare my thighs that touched to those of my smaller girlfriends, envious. I'd internalize nasty comments about my body made flippantly by other girls and grown women, who should have known better. I still remember one of my first boyfriends joking about my potbelly during an intimate moment, when I was especially vulnerable. For these reasons, I'd rather swelter in jeans in July than show off my thick calves.
Social media was the turning point for me. I had begun to curate the images and messages I consumed on my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr feeds. All at once, I was bombarded with positivity created for and by Black women. I scrolled through natural hair posts, plus sized fashion and stories of women living up to their full potential. I discovered the greatness of Janelle Monae (The Electric Lady is the soundtrack to my life) and I live for Solange's vibrant Instagram posts. But the Carefree Black Girl is also Crissle, with her serious reads of the white patriarchy… Or Gabi Gregg rocking a size 20 bikini … Or Beyoncé sharing family vacation photos … Or the countless Black women I see on Instagram straight flexin' … Or me… writing this post.
You don't have to burn incense, listen to Erykah Badu or practice yoga to be a Carefree Black Girl (although that's AWESOME if you do.) The Carefree Black Girl can twerk to Freak Hoes and wear a lace front if she wants! Being a a Carefree Black Girl simply means that you have consciously decided to be yourself in a world that tries to tell Black Women who we should be.
Over the years, the color black had become a fashion staple for me. In June 2014, I bought my first pair of white shorts and fuck, it felt good! By July 2014, I was due for another relaxer but decided to hold off. By May of 2015, I was mentally ready to cut off my last few strands of limp, lifeless processed hair.
The Summer of 2015, I consciously decided to free myself of everyone's expectations of me, including my own. How many opportunities had I let pass me by due to fear? I decided to let go of the pain and anger that had stifled my growth thus far.
I am NOT an angry Black woman. Sure, I'm pissed about the injustices we face and the negative ways in which we are perceived by everyone else. But I will never again let feelings of inadequacy dictate how I move in this world. The Carefree Black Girl is NOT a trend, it's a movement and it's here to stay.