Classy Black Women

Please welcome new guest blogger Helen Holt, who discusses the importance of self-love & self-acceptance. She also shares thoughts about the new BET series Being Mary Jane, featuring Gabrielle Union.

Even though we spend all day, every day in our own skin, most of us don’t know ourselves. Many of us hate silence—which is indicative of not liking who we are. It’s as if we’re terrified to be alone with our own thoughts. It’s no wonder, because those thoughts are often, if not always, condemning ones.

If someone were to ask you to name five things that you like about yourself and then ask you to name five things you didn’t like about yourself, the first list you would most likely struggle with. The second list would be much easier, and would be hard to cut off at only five.

See the problem?

Here is the million-dollar question: if we can’t name five things we love about ourselves (or even like) then how can we successfully attract the kind of love into our lives that we desire?

After seeing the new show on BET, Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union, I couldn’t help but think about how this relates to the inner angst of the modern-day black woman.

As Tabby (the Classy Black Lady blog mistress) stated in her review of the show in a previous post, the lead character, Mary Jane, is the successful but lonely archetype that so many black women can relate to. Although I agree with Classy Black Lady’s thoughts and think the writing is great and the acting is pleasing to watch, we also share the same concern. For me, my concern is that we will identify with Mary Jane a little too much and miss the bigger picture. As a result, we will not be empowered to be and have what we truly desire and deserve.

This, I feel, begins with us redefining success and beginning to break away from the programming that if we have a college degree, a good job, a house, and a car then we are complete. I’m hoping that the writers of the show develop the main character in an empowering way. That over time she comes to realize that her loneliness doesn’t stem from not having a relationship with a man but from not having a relationship with herself first and foremost.

Personally, I’d love to see Mary Jane learn to say no to her family and work on her personal issues to become a better person. And I believe that this show has a prime opportunity to provide an image to black girls and women about what being a classy black lady is all about. It isn’t about designer clothes or expensive brand-name handbags, or a job with a big title. It’s about the evolution of a woman into knowing herself, loving herself, and therefore honoring herself.

However, due to feeling attacked on all sides from family, society, men, media and even fellow sisters, I feel many of us as black women are in defense mode, which denies us the introspection and personal responsibility necessary to create change in our lives for the better.

Practical Self-Love

Having a positive relationship with ourselves can seem kind of “up in the air.” It sounds good but doesn’t seem very tangible. Something I did which really helped me was to get a pen and paper and write a list of five things I liked about myself. They had to be character traits only—nothing external like being sexy or having a big round bu-dunk-a-dunk. This very small and seemingly insignificant exercise led me on a path of empowerment and a strong love for myself.

There can be no love without acceptance. And there can be no acceptance without appreciation. Sure, you may get impatient sometimes, but you are a generous person, too. Appreciate the attributes that you like TODAY. You are and will always be human, which by definition means imperfection. Our weaknesses are our vulnerabilities and these vulnerabilities are what connect us to one another and to ourselves. So when you can see your weaknesses or flaws (or whatever you choose to call them) and can appreciate yourself anyway, then you are on the path to self-love.

About the Author
Helen C. Holt is a freelance ghostwriter of memoirs, e-books, blogs and web content. She is passionate about knowledge and love of self. Her work can be found on her blog:, her website and on Twitter @writesideup.

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Lisa Nichols talks about the three different types of relationships that we women find ourselves in.

I am a fan of Lisa Nichols. She is a transformational speaker who seems to live up to her title in more ways than one. She oozes excitement and happiness. You probably know her from "The Secret" video that was publicized on Oprah years ago. She is also the author of a book entitled No Matter What! (review to come).

While browsing her high-powered motivational videos on Youtube I came across the video below, in which she discusses the three different types of relationships. She also discusses why she isn't so eager to rush into marriage with anyone as she enjoys, explores and experiences her life. I think this discussion is a great followup to my recent articles Young Black Women: There's More to Life Than Finding a Man (Yea I Said It) and Black Women Who Found Love Later in Life AFTER Establishing Themselves

Lisa Nichols' Book No Matter What!

A few key points she brings up (see the whole video below):

1) Some men come into your life for a short time so that you can feel alive again or so that you can learn healthy boundaries, to show you your worth or to teach you a lesson about yourself.

2) When a relationship ends, say it is complete. It has run its course and you have gotten what you need to get from it. 

3) Every guy you meet and click with isn't meant to be your husband!

The most important of her points was her discussion of the three types of relationships.

To summarize, they are:

1) Life-giving (he comes into your life to let you know "you still got it")
2) Lifetime (the one you'll probably be with forever)
3) Purposeful (you came together for a reason or purpose, such as having children, learning something about yourself, etc. When that purpose is fulfilled the relationship must end eventually, even if you resist for a time, so that you can move onto the next phase in your life.)

She estimates that 80% of people are in a purposeful relationship and many just don't want to let go when it has served its purpose.

See the video below.

The conversation with Lisa Nichols begins at 2:49

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Who said you have to find a man and get married by 30 (or else)? Here is a list of black women over 40 years old who found love later on in life, and guess what? They seem happy!

As women we are constantly pressured to find a man and get married at age 25 (no later than 30!) or else it's all over for us, but guess what? A lot of women 40 and up are finding the "one," getting married and living awesome lives. If you've been beating yourself up about not being able to find someone special, maybe you should just... stop doing that. The pressure is what causes a lot of young women to jump into bad relationships where they are being abused, used for their resources and taken for granted.

There is some evidence that people who get married later on in life tend to have longer, more fulfilling marriages. That's because the couple has had time to explore, find out what they want, establish themselves and learn who they are.

Many black women have an added benefit because melanin in the skin keeps you looking young. So a black lady can be 50 years old and still look 30. That is a major asset.

The main point is, your chances of finding love don't disappear when you turn 30 years old. And you can have love even if you've chosen to prioritize your career and pursue your dreams.
Without further ado, I present to you a list of black women who found love and marriage later on in life after establishing their careers.

CC Image courtesy of Joi Ito

Mellody Hobson

Mellody Hobson is 43 years old as of this posting. She is a very successful woman in the financial field who made her own money at a young age. She is now the President of Ariel Investments, a billion-dollar financial firm. She was named one of Ebony magazine's "20 Leaders of the Future" and one of The Wall Street Journal's 50 "Women to Watch."

43-year old Ms. Hobson
has been dating film producer George Lucas for over seven years and is now engaged to be married.

CC Image courtesy of Harrison Funk

Janet Jackson 

Janet Jackson (Ms. Jackson if you're nasty!) is 46 years old as of this posting. She has been through a number of failed public relationships, including one with Jermaine Dupri, who let her slip right through his fingers and two marriages that ended in divorce (James DeBarge and Rene Elizondo).

After a very successful career in music, television and film, Ms. Jackson is now married to Wissam Al Mana, a wealthy billionaire.

CC Image courtesy of Jgro888

Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell is 42 years old. Not everyone is happy about the fact that she is in a relationship with Russian businessman Vladislav Doronin because she met him while he was still married, but reports state that he and his wife were separated for 10 years before the relationship began. Nonetheless, Naomi seems to have now found love at 42

Naomi strutted that catwalk like she owned it for years and made her money. Now she can enjoy her own personal wealth while living the good life in Moscow with her long-time boyfriend.

CC Image courtesy of Tom Sorensen

Halle Berry

When you think of failed celebrity relationships, Halle Berry is somewhere up there at the top of the list. Halle was one of those women who seemed so desperate for love that she jumped into a new one like it was an inviting pool of water. 

But at the age of 46 (as of this posting), Halle is now engaged to be married to Olivier Martinez, a French actor who is willing to fight for her (literally).

CC Image courtesy of The Heart Truth

Angela Bassett
She was about 38 when she got married, but actress Angela Bassett is still a great example of how you can still find love when you get older after establishing your career. Angela is a queen among black women, having nailed a number of important acting roles, including her portrayals of Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do With It and Betty Shabazz in Malcolm X.

Sister did her thing, made her money, still looks great, and at 54 she is still with her husband actor Courtney B. Vance.


CC Image courtesy of Helge Overas

Tina Turner

As of this posting, Tina Turner is 73 years old ya'll, and still looks about 40. She got married at a fairly young age, and we all know how that story goes. No need to elaborate.

But she persevered. She built a successful music career, made her millions, achieved legend status and then moved to Switzerland to enjoy the good life. At 73 Ms. Turner is getting married to her long-time beau, Erwin Bach, who is almost 20 years younger.

There are plenty more older black women who aren't as famous who are finding love later on in life. So when you are feeling down and out about not finding the right one for you, just remember these women; our older sisters and elders. They found love, marriage and happiness with their mates at 40+.  Of course, no one can predict the future and whether these unions are forever, but the point is that their opportunities for meeting someone special didn't cease at age 30. 

Keep in mind that a lot of women who force marriage at age 25 become miserable because they were way too eager and focused on finding a man. Don't be like them.

Relax. Enjoy your life as a single woman. Hang with friends. Listen to motivational videos. Watch positive or educational media (movies, TV shows, Netflix etc). Work on your business idea.

When you have a "no pressure" mentality, you are less likely to settle for scraps. 

You deserve "simply the best" baby.

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Opinion: young black women and girls should spend less time obsessing over finding a man and more time pursuing their dreams. Yea, I said it.

I've been concerned even more than usual about how obsessed some black girls and young black women are with love and relationships, to the point where they think that finding a man will make their lives worth living. They prioritize pursuing a romantic relationship over pursuing their dreams and it doesn't help that the young guys they're interested in seem to get more and more disrespectful and apathetic each day. 

It also doesn't help that women who are "growner" than them also seem way too focused on finding a man to marry over all the other beautiful things there are to enjoy in life.

I know I might be stepping on some toes with these comments but I don't think I care anymore? I am tired of seeing young black girls playing themselves for boys who couldn't care less about them and aren't giving them back the same energy. I'm tired of the rehashed articles posted every week on black media about how black women should go about finding and keeping a man (yet none of them seem to be helping). And if you've read this blog before, you know I'm all the way over faux relationship "experts" (some who are not even in a solid relationship themselves) wagging their fingers at single black women.

I think that what prompted me to write about this issue was hearing about what happened to the beautiful Porsha Williams (Stewart) of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I haven't watched the show this season, but from what I read she bent over backwards to please her oppressive husband and play the submissive role, yet he still publicly dumped her like some trash put out to the street. She doesn't deserve that.  

And no one ever wants to talk about what the guy may be doing wrong to cause the break down in a relationship.

There are a lot more Porshas out there, hanging on by a string and willing to do or take just about anything just to have the title "Mrs." So I decided that I want to present black girls and women with a different perspective on love and relationships at this blog going forward. If you don't agree that's fine -- there are plenty of other sites that will beat the subject of how to find or attract a man to death, revive it, and then beat it down some more!

Clarification: This is not a "we don't need no man" blog, this is a "yes we need love, but we refuse to let the pursuit of love consume our lives" blog. I welcome guest bloggers who understand this.

This particular relationship blog is about having a healthy perspective when it comes to relationships, and not just with men but also concerning friendships, co-worker, strangers you meet on the street and family members.

My overall message to young black women: love is great love is divine, but if you focus too much energy on finding it, it just might kick you in your behind!

In other words, RELAX. Live your life. Find happiness from within. If an awesome guy comes along in the midst of all of that, cool! Snap him up and live happily ever after together. 

Finding a man and getting married shouldn't feel like a 50-yard dash to the finish line. Slow and steady wins the race.

One last note to young women: men shouldn't complete you, they should supplement your already amazing life.

In the next post I will present to you a list of successful black women who found love later on in life after establishing a platform for themselves.

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Love and relationship "experts" are popping up like dandelions online. But is their current strategy really helping anyone?

From time to time I'll receive a retweet on my Twitter timeline from a relationship "expert." All too often these online "experts" are men and all too often their advice is directed only to women. The advice is usually very blunt and accusatory in nature.

Steve Harvey and crew have given these guys a clear runway to take off into oblivion and reinvent themselves as relationship "experts," even when they don't have a successful, loving relationship with a woman themselves!

I figured since these "experts" have their minds set on giving unsolicited advice to women day in and out, I'll dole out a bit of my own today:

Please stay in your own lane.

No this is not meant as a finger snap in your face. It's a serious suggestion. 

If you are a black man who feels you have had some level of success in life and knowledge of how to have a successful relationship, talk to your fellow black men about it. How can a man like you make his relationship work?  

And vice versa for black women.

But as a side note, when have you ever seen a black woman giving unsolicited relationship advice to black men? Let alone an unmarried black woman who is not in a healthy and loving relationship herself? That's unheard of, right?

Are You Really Helping?
I do believe that certain types of men simply get a twisted pleasure and satisfaction from criticizing and shaming women, particularly black women. I think it's a veiled way for men to bash women while pretending to want to help.

But I also get that the real reason why these male relationship "experts" focus their attention on women is that unfortunately women are the only ones who are willing to pay them any attention. A man doesn't really want any of what they're selling. So if one of these "experts" wanted to sell a book or tape series on how to have a relationship, they know that their target audience is going to be "desperate and lonely women of all ages."

But if you're a black man who is sincerely interested in HELPING people build better relationships, then your efforts are best focused on giving helpful advice to other black men who may be struggling with how to talk to and deal with women.

The Messenger is Just as Important as the Message

You can't shame and blame anyone into submission -- especially not a grown person. Ask any real relationship expert and they will tell you that.

It is also extremely difficult to get through to someone if you can't really relate to what they're going through or what they've been through. Even if the message that you're offering has merit, you may not be the right messenger.

Think about this for a moment: someone may have a very true message about saving the black community, but if it comes from the lips of a condescending white person who has never even set foot in a black neighborhood, we don't want to even hear it.

A black woman better understands the stresses, concerns, troubles, fears, challenges and dreams of other black women. For that reason I believe that a black woman who is in a healthy and happy relationship is best equipped to successfully give relationship advice to another black woman.

Black men also need a strong male influence if they want to build a successful relationship with someone. So I believe that a black man who is in a healthy relationship is best equipped to give relationship advice to another black man.

Lastly, let's quickly explore this label of "expert." Just because you have something to say on a matter doesn't make you an expert yet. It takes years of training, reading, studying, meditating, and loads of life experience to earn that title. 

How many lives have you changed? How many strong relationships have you helped build? How many successful marriages have you helped create?

Isn't that what defines an expert: results?

However, even if you can't truly call yourself an expert yet you still might have good insights to offer others. If you truly want to help, offer it to those who you can best relate to and who can relate to you

Yes, it's unsolicited advice but hey, you're no stranger to that ;)

Post by: The Classy Black Lady

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You still can't understand why nice girls finish last and why men love bitches ... read this article to determine if maybe you're being a kind fool.

Submitted by Guest Blogger Jayelle Hughes

In the past I wondered to myself, why does it seem like people are so mean, even though I treat them kindly? For example, I would call a customer service rep and talk to her as sweetly as possible; even change my voice to be more appeasing. In return I seemed to always receive a nasty attitude.

These are questions that nice folks ask all the time -- why don't people value kindness and thoughtfulness from a person? Why do people walk all over nice guys and girls?

This discussion comes up most often when talking about relationships. Men wonder why women don't like "nice guys." Nice women wonder why men seem to prefer "bitches."

It took years, and plenty of experiences, to finally realize the answer. It is simply because certain types of people look at nice folks as targets -- they perceive you as a kind fool and fully intend to take advantage of that. 

You have to be firm and serious with people if you want to be taken seriously.

Good versus Nice
There is a difference between being a GOOD person and a NICE person.

People show the utmost respect to GOOD people who stand their ground and stick to their guns. GOOD people are not afraid to speak their minds. Nice people say YES all the time and strive to be pleasing because they want to be liked. Good people say NO often. Good people will "tell you off in love."

People -- particularly inconsiderate and selfish people -- use and abuse kind fools.

Let's briefly go back to relationships and those timeless questions: why don't men like nice girls and why don't women like nice guys? Well, both men and women prefer a little bit of a challenge -- don't you?

A good woman tells her significant other NO or might disagree with him at times. She is not afraid to challenge him when necessary -- that keeps things lively and REAL.

Now flip the script: if a man is constantly giving you everything you want all of the time it eventually becomes unattractive. You know that you can have everything you want from that person and it even becomes a bit unnerving because you know that he is probably taking mental note of all of those good deeds. One day that person is probably going to throw it back in your face and someone is going to get hurt. People don't like to feel an overwhelming obligation to others.

So What Exactly is a Kind Fool?
Now that you have a little more of an idea of why people don't show respect to nice guys and girl, maybe you're wondering if you're a kind fool.

A kind fool is someone who is nice to a fault. Anything done in excess is not good for you. A kind fool will say yes to every request, even if it is clearly a bad idea. Even if it hurts. You see a lot of kind fools in the plaintiff's box on Judge Mathis and Judge Judy.

Good people tell people NO not because they are mean, but because they know it is best for them and also for the person who is asking in most cases.

Kind fools say yes to everyone because they want to be liked and think that granting everyone's wish will help them be more popular.

That is why nice guys and girls frequently get hurt and feel stepped on. They allow people to use and abuse them daily, thinking that it somehow is a testament to how good a person they are.

But it's not -- instead, it's a testament to how silly, weak and foolish you are.

Surely you have heard the story of the turtle and the scorpion. The turtle was a perfect example of a kind fool, allowing a poisonous scorpion to ride his back into a pond. Because the turtle was too nice, they both drowned. 

If the turtle was smart he would have let the poisonous scorpion walk ALL THE WAY around the pond, knowing his nature. That would have been for the scorpion's own good. Then they both would have survived and the scorpion would have also learned a valuable lesson about hard work.

People Will Still Like You
One other thing I've learned over the years is that even when you tell people NO, they will still care about you. They will still like you. They will still talk to you. If anything they may like you more because you stood your ground and they now know that you are not a pushover.

So if you're in a place where you're wondering why no one seems to value or appreciate your nice deeds and demeanor, recognize that you may be playing the role of a kind fool. Shut it down starting today.

Put your own needs first -- that doesn't make you a bad person, that makes you a wise person. Trust your intuition. Help people who you believe deserve it while remembering that old adage, "If you teach a man to fish he eats for life."

Jayelle Hughes is a novelist and woman empowerment advocate. Check out her womens novels 5eX and Men Don't Matter? on Amazon.

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Sally Sunshine, give it a rest.

Nope ladies, the reason why many good women can't seem to find and keep a decent man is not because they "don't know how to let a man be a man." It has nothing to do with your looks or race. It has nothing to do with you as far as an individual deficiency. Maybe a misunderstanding, but not an inherent flaw within you as a woman, so please get that out of your mind. 

For some of us ladies, we're too limited in our options when it comes to what is a viable, dateable man. But that is still not the main reason why many good women have trouble staying in a strong relationship.

Sally Sunshine Syndrome

The real reason why many good black women and women in general have a hard time getting and keeping a decent guy is that we’re simply too eager to please.

We’re constantly walking on eggshells and tiptoeing around men to seem perfect, nice, calm and sweet. We think that’s what they want from us. For us black ladies, we sometimes try to go out of our way to put nasty stereotypes to rest.

Meanwhile the guys are getting turned off a little more each day by this behavior.

A man might say out of his mouth that he wants all of that sweetness and thoughtfulness in a woman but he doesn’t. It’s a lie that some men tell to get what they want as quickly as possible.

I’ve had two ex-boyfriends admit this fact to me after we broke up. One told me that he had wanted me to fight with him more, throw things in the apartment or something. Yes he actually said that. He actually wanted me to break his things! Another told me that he wished I didn't let him get away with so much during our relationship and that it turns him on when I get an attitude with him, even if I throw insults at him.

Basically, these guys wanted me to bring drama into their lives. Despite their seemingly backwards thinking, they were two decent eligible bachelors with many positive attributes.

I have realized that many men are emotionally damaged or drama seekers. They want a thrill. That is why a boring good girl will never really tickle their fancy.

Ironically both of these men wanted me back after we broke up, but it was well after I lost my attraction to them. Does any of this stuff sound familiar to you?

Men Want a Challenge

My friends and I were having a light-hearted discussion along these lines with a young male bartender and he let this gem slip: "Men like a challenge. Once the challenge is over and he knows he’s got you, he’s onto the next challenge."

So the bartender basically affirmed my theory. 

And let's admit it ladies, sometimes we do the same thing. If a guy is too "nice" or "sweet" we start to wonder about him and start looking for an exit strategy, right?

When you play that role of Sally Sunshine (as the naturally good woman that you are) and go out of your way to please a man you are no longer a challenge to that man. He'll likely move on at some point, become disinterested or start acting like a jackass to get you to leave him alone.

The Bad Boys

Now let’s add to this math that many good women tend to gravitate to bad boys, a-holes and narcissists.

One guy that I dated stands out for me. He generally had bad attitude but he treated me well when we started dating. I decided to go out of my way to show how how much I appreciated how he was treating me.

Wrong move.

I offered to pay for some dates to relieve him of some money pressures. I told him he didn’t have to spend too much money on me when we went out. When he said something I didn’t like, I kept my mouth shut so as to not be argumentative. I would cook him meals early on in the relationship. If he broke a date at the last possible minute, I let it slide and said “hey, no big deal.”

Soon after he started to pull away and I just didn’t get why. The truth was that I was playing that Sally Sunshine role too much and was no longer a challenge to him. The relationship was too easy for him. Then suddenly he started to let his true bad boy nature out in an attempt to get me to leave him alone. He turned into a real a-hole and I was left confused.

Not any longer though. I know exactly what happened. Firstly, I wasn't being authentically ME. I usually speak my mind, but I decided in this particular case that I would play the “role” of a nice sweet girlfriend who was supportive and completely understanding. I was also showing some insecurities and I was too eager to please. Again, wrong move.

Instead of catering to him even when it was an inconvenience for me I should have spoken up and taken control over the situation. That is what most men want but they will never admit it out of their mouths. 

Why do you think you see so many hen-pecked men with harpie girlfriends or wives and wonder “why does he put up with it?” 

I’m not saying that you should be a harpie, but take notes from the harpie girl if you want to stop getting stepped on in relationships. They are more in touch with what men want than nice women are.

Again, this same guy I mentioned wanted to get back together after we broke up. I guess they see after a while that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, you know with the bitchy problematic chick who brings drama, and they miss being catered to. But as for me, once the attraction is gone it’s gone — and Sally Sunshine has left the building.

Making it Right

So I have a very simple solution for good women who are experiencing these issues finding and keeping a decent man who you like.

Number one, cool it on the really bad boys. Don’t waste your time running after thugs, drug dealers, a-holes or men who just generally like to do bad things all the time. It’s a dead end relationship and to be perfectly honest, they don’t deserve a good woman like you. We ladies like a guy with a little bit of an “edge” or “spice” but there has to be limitations.

Secondly and most importantly, stop going out of your way to please men. Stop feeling as if you have to show a guy how “good” you are. That's a recipe for disaster. They don’t care how good you are, and in fact many of them want a girl who’s a little (or a lot) bad instead. Be yourself, speak your mind, disagree when it’s warranted, don’t always be available (too easy) and tell him the truth about how you feel when he does something that you don’t like.

Do this, good woman, with the next guy you date. Then come back and tell me how it worked out. Having seen it with my own two eyes and gotten affirmation from the horse’s mouth (men), I now back this theory 100% and it has been working for me

I'll repeat this one more time: most men don't really like nice girls. Yes, they'll probably date you for a while and get what they want but in most cases they'll leave you once they've had their fill. Do not blindly or desperately cater to men, ever.

- submitted by Guest Blogger Tracee Simpson

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