With Style + Grace: Standing Up for Yourself As a Woman

As a woman, I can truly say that I’ve been disrespected and belittled. People often discredit my abilities and speak to me as if I am a child. As a black woman, I can testify that people have treated me like I am less than human. They talk down to me and expect me to bend over, take the insults and the ridicule and let it roll off my back as if nothing happened. My first instinct is to curse those people out. I want to say “I am neither your property nor your chattel” followed by a number of words that would give my grandmother a heart attack.

I’ve learned to turn setbacks into triumphs. The other week someone who had no business in my business tried to “put me in my place”. Here’s how this played out. I sent an assertive and direct email to a client who has neglected to compensate me for an overdue payment. That client responded to me and used an expletive in his incredibly unprofessional and demeaning email. He then decided to air his frustrations to another white male friend of his. That friend proceeded to come for me through one of my social media accounts. On one of my photos he left a comment that said “I want you out of_____’s life.” His tone was very angry, so the comment was reported as abuse.

Growing up in the South, I had become all to familiar to white male aggression. They use certain terminology and tones to try to make you as a black woman especially feel very small. I don’t always have the patience to deal with that nonsense with a level head. After talking with a girlfriend, instead of cursing both men out, I set them straight by speaking in a language they would understand. Here’s word for what what was said:

I’ve been nothing but diplomatic and courteous. This isn’t personal, it’s business. I’ve been a professional model for over ten years and I did a favor by grossly undercharging his company. If you’d done jobs with Express Men, Audi and Tiffany & Co without payment for over a year, neither you nor your agents would stand for that. Frankly, the fact that you felt the need to come to MY Instagram and insert yourself into something that has absolutely nothing to do with you is both angry and aggressive. Saying that you want me “out of his life” is completely out of line. If you’d like me to forward you invoices, emails, and court documents from the past year, I’d be happy to do so. Please allow your friend to fight his own battles.

Can I just say, I haven’t heard any back talk since. Do you see the strength we possess when focus our energy?

Because of the cards I’ve been dealt, I’ve had to become my own Superwoman. No one is shielding me from the harsh realities of truth. No man has put me on a pedestal to protect my honor. I fight my own battles. I am amazing, intelligent, and resilient. You can say what you want about me that I’m bossy or a bitch, but I know my truth. The next time someone is attempting to undermine me, I’ll be just as direct and assertive. I will stand up for myself with style and grace.

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