June 24, 2021

Lessons in What it Means to Take Up Space: Hilary, Simone & Sha’Carri

Black Women Take up space Sha'carri Richardson simone biles confidence

I’m one for the classics. What it means to take up space

At this time, my husband and I are rewatching one a cannon of Black television and, really, sitcom tv as a whole: The Fresh Prince of Bel – Air. What it means to take up space

When I watched as a kid, I always thought the hero of the show was clearly the character whose moniker graced the title – one Will Smith. Upon further investigation, I’d like to submit to you the real hero of the show, the one who has gone overlooked – Hilary Banks. She was a whole vibe.

Hear me out.
This woman was supremely confident and was wholly unapologetic about it. 
Her curls were always poppin.
She held very high standards.
She could put together a mean outfit & always looked her best.
She was who she was & she said what she said. What you saw was what you got.

Now I’m not saying she was perfect by any means, ok. My hope for you is that you’re at least a little deeper than that & that you are not quite as oblivious to, well, life. However, I think we can afford to adopt at least a little Hilary Banksishness into our own dealings (and if we’re continuing in the 90’s trend, let’s throw in a Whitley Gilbert, Lisa Turtle and the whole cast of Living Single while we’re at it.)

I have been in the presence of so many women who miss this concept. It’s conditioned out of us pretty early so I can’t blame them, I’m guilty myself. What it means to take up space

Have you ever deflected a compliment or, in order to give one, put yourself down first in order to qualify one? Do you run from photographic opportunities insisting that you somehow don’t look good enough to be recorded in any way for posterity? You have, haven’t you? Me too.

Something else to know about me, as long as we’re getting into it: I am not a sportsball aficionado. 

In any competition involving teams, I cannot quote you stats or players names or anything. My go-to strategy for predicting who will win any faceoff is one simple question: what is the mascot? Because clearly the Bears will win over the Fighting Leprechauns or whatever. They are small and, although they can fight, I think a bear’s reach will be too long for them to get away in sufficient time in the event they try to run. I stand by this system. 

The sports I have followed, however, are making waves for all the right reasons these days: Track & Field & Gymnastics. 

With the continued domination of Simone Biles & the soul fulfilling-to-watch rise of Sha’Carri Richardson – it’s all I can do to contain myself. What makes these women so amazing to see is their unabashed confidence that is completely earned and not a touch out of place. I love to see it because I’m tryin to get a piece of it for myself. The way they take up space is mesmerising and inspiring.

And if any of these women’s bravado & confidence make you uncomfortable, that’s ok. But I invite you to understand what exactly it is in you that’s making you squirm in your seat. I used to be super uncomfortable with the Hillarys, Simones & Sha’Carris of the world. They would make me bristle just by them walking in the room & when they spoke my lips would tighten and proverbial drawls would get in a bunch. Learning the whys of this has set me on such a better course – one where I can celebrate these humans and use their confidence as a stepping stool to boost my own just a touch. I’m not telling you to be prideful – as we know, that never ends well, but I am suggesting that owning your talents and letting others know that you do is not a horrible atrocity.

So here’s to the hero Hilary who, in all her 90s glory, was one of the women who contributed to the blueprint of what it means to take up space. Go get you a coordinating Donna Karen suit and dare someone to say you’re not killin it, girl. 

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