The Audacity of Serena

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Believe it or not, in my teenage days, I was gangly; all bones and zero curves.

Though I was not generally bothered (I was an undisputed tomboy), there were those once-in-an-electric-blue-moon moments I found myself complaining to Mom that I was too thin, compared to my peers.

Those girls who easily made the boys swirl their heads Medusa-style, as they casually strolled past.

Which makes it really funny in retrospect, that a decade later, I found myself grappling with image issues again. But this time, on the other extreme:

I was worried that perhaps, I was too big.

(And curvy).

How did I get there?

You see... growing up into adulthood, I realised that females from my part of my birth-country were mostly tall, big framed and curvy, and I eventually fit that profile (thank God!)

Big became my normal, and I would usually have friends who were my height (or even taller), ranging between sizes 12 to 16.

But there was that time in my life, when I had just moved to North America, and for the first time found myself surrounded with size -0 petite classmates and housemates.

The clothing stores did nothing to help. Till date, the most of the clothes for big-framed and/or tall women are usually the ugliest clothes you could pick off a rag-line.

It is as though a silent memo has been passed, that you cannot afford to be big AND stylish simultaneously.

*insert angry face

Sadly, there were not too many female public figures in this part of the world that I could connect with: strong, big, black women, who were not afraid to be stylish, while excelling in their chosen fields.

Serena changed this for me, and helped me to gladly wear the #TeamBigAndCurvy tag. She caught my attention when she won her first gold in the Olympics, for tennis (singles). And she has kept rising, winning various accolades, while breaking stereotypes in same stride, without looking back.

Serena is living proof that being a big-framed female does not automatically = being unsexy. 

Her boldness in style has seen her gracing covers of highly-regarded lifestyle magazines, in stunning photo-shoots, modelling for various brands, and culminating into her floating her very own fashion and beauty brands. And her sultry moves in Beyonce's music video for “Sorry” was all the motivation I needed to take over the dance floor for lady's nights out with my friends.

But Serena has not just been a symbol of pride with respect to fashion and (physical) image portrayal. Her fearlessness in owning her craft as the world’s most intriguing female tennis player is endearing.

You know... there was a time when as a female, you were required to feign a certain sense of "humility" for being excellent. Especially as a person of colour:

To be seen, and not be heard.

But for Serena, she has unapologetically owned her crown as the female world champion on the tennis field, despite the various sexist and racial barriers she has had to overcome. She has boldly used her voice to raise awareness and call for equal pay for black women across various careers.

Serena knows that she is a good an exceptional sportswoman. She is conscious of her successes, constantly being aware of the hard work and determination required from her, to ensure she remains at the top.

While it has attracted some of the juiciest endorsements to her, it has also necessitated that she exert physical (and mental) strain on her person, even in circumstances in which she should be flopped on a sofa, and just breathing.

Despite her successes, Serena has not been afraid to share her struggles with juggling motherhood, and still maintaining her status as the best female tennis player of all time. This is the reality which a lot of us women face; having to balance motherhood with glowing in our chosen fields.

It is because of women like her that others like us can throw off cloaks of fear in conquering uncharted territory, and be bold in owning the sheer awesomeness that we are made of.

The audacity of Serena to surpass excellence is a huge inspiration to a lot of us women, especially women of colour; constantly reminding us that we should not hesitate to be fearless, as we go about blazing trails, and shattering various ceilings.

If Serena can do it... we can do it! 



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Photo-credits (in order of appearance)
2. (Serena William's twitter page)

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  1. Austine EkweribeThursday, July 12, 2018

    Your articulation of words & ideas are always apt.

    I still remain one of ur great fans/followers.

  2. Like Serena Like Barrister Chinelo..Super women