A few days ago my very voluptuous younger cousin posted a picture on Facebook that I thought was inappropriate— it showcased her behind and was complemented by a caption with a witty sexual innuendo. Immediately, I sprang into action reaching out to her, her father and our uncle. Guess what? No one cared.

My cousin and her dad didn’t even bother to respond to my call out, and our uncle told me I was being a prude. Really? When did it become acceptable to sit back and simply watch our girls objectify themselves? The response from my familial village both saddened me and left me in a state of disbelief. There was a time when you didn’t do things— at least publicly— because of how it reflected on you, and your family. Second, it really caused me to look at the blatant disconnect many of us have between our actions and our options.

Call me a snob, but to me when a girl showcases her behind in such a way—that tells me she thinks that’s her best asset. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand why. We are immersed in a culture that now embraces public vulgarity and the objectification of Black women whole-heartedly. Big Sean has a whole song dedicated to “A*s”. And just think about Vh1’s hit show Single Ladies. Lisa Raye’s character, Keisha, is commonly referred to as being famous for having an “unforgettable ass”. She is proud of it and will even smile, and toot it out on demand. Isn’t that cute. Now, for full disclosure, I watch the show. I even kind of like it. But I will never accept the media’s portrayal of what is “hot” as my personal cultural norm; and neither should our community.

When I saw my cousin’s “a*s shot” my heart sank because I understood in the big picture that decision was about more that just fun. It’s indicative of a new community standard that increasingly justifies a cavalier attitude about sexuality, sexual activity and respect. And the results of those seemingly small choices are reflected in things such as our community’s high rate of unwed mothers. 

I’m all for “bodied up” girls embracing their curves, but lets encourage our gems to keep it classy.  Image is everything and what you show the world will determine how you are treated. Furthermore, it also tells the world what you think of yourself. Historically, only a certain kind of woman let everyone have access to her most precious assets.

I love my cousin, and most important, I see her as more than a girl with a big ass. I hope she does too.

As a community to talk have more conversations about what greatness looks like among your family and friends. Here’s how you can Do Better, Be Better.

  1. See Something, say something. Too often we remain quiet about things that are traditionally taboo.  Find a safe space to speak up.
  2. Ask questions. “Why” is the most powerful question you can pose to someone doing something that you think is arguable.
  3. Express concerns. Don’t be judgmental, but share why a certain behavior is worrisome.