For the past few months, an interesting text post has been floating around Instagram, Twitter.. really all forms of social media (see picture below).
"Don't be eye candy, be soul food." First off, props to whoever came up with this, it's very catchy and a great metaphor. "Eye candy" is often something that looks good to the eye yet lacks substance- it won't fill you up. "Soul food" however is deep, rich in flavor, and very filling. Soul food will give you the itis. Eye candy will leave you wanting more.
Seems harmless right? WRONG. This idea is harmful because it silos women's behavior. It purports that one cannot be both or that one should choose to be one (soul food) over the other (eye candy). I mean, I get it. Today's society is all about images and it can be hard for women of substance to see value in being more than just a pretty face. When people get famous for songs that no one can understand the lyrics to or constantly showing off their bodies in ways some (not I) would deem "slutty," then I get why women with 'more to offer' than their looks would want to push back against the obsession today's society has with appearances.
But, there's nothing wrong with being a pretty face and there is nothing wrong with being intelligent, driven, ambitious, creative, or business-minded. These ideas are not and do not have to be mutually exclusive. Michelle Obama, Oprah, J.Lo, Beyonce, Kerry Washington, Chelsea Clinton, America Ferrera, all of these women and so many more are beautiful on the outside and make important contributions to the world with what's inside of them.
We, as women, have to stop pitting ourselves against each other and placing ourselves in boxes. Our womanhood is not singular, it is multi-faceted and we must own all of the pieces of ourselves. We also can't assume that just because someone is gorgeous, Instagram famous, or only posting pictures "turning up" that they're vapid, shallow, and only a pretty face. Maybe ole girl just wants to keep the real stuff she does with her life to herself! (And if that is all she's about, so what, it's her life, not yours. Do not shame her for her choices.) We also can't think of women who are always about their business as "bossy" or "bitches." We've got to start being and allowing the women around us to be fully themselves, no matter what that looks like. So, the next time you see this posted or someone tries to box you in.. look at em like..
Girl, be soul food and dessert and at the same damn time. Just because you're throwing down on some fulfilling fried chicken, mac & cheese, greens, cornbread, and yams doesn't mean the presentation of the meal isn't important. Both matter. Be satisfaction with substance. Be more. Be both.