Archuleta A. Chisolm
The Bathroom Mirror Never Hurt Nobody
The other day, I was scrolling on HBO Max, trying to find a new binge-worthy show to get into. I scrolled past Insecure. Created by and starring our favorite awkward Black girl Issa Rae, this comedy series looked at friendships between Black women in a way we hadn’t seen before. Not to mention uncomfortable experiences and relationship tribulations. I felt a sense of connectedness to the show, since I live in Los Angeles, and have been to some of the very places as Issa and Molly.
But it was the times when Issa would talk to herself in the bathroom mirror, and vent through her challenges that still do it for me.
At some point, every woman has done some variation of that in the bathroom, or even in the car. It’s a form of therapy, if you will, talking to yourself for the purpose of acceptance, validation, or the kick in the butt you desperately need. It’s how we hype ourselves all the way up, or calm the crazy all the way down.
In a world that judges the very breath that Black women breathe, self-talk has been a means of survival. It’s the remedy for those of us who are more introverted, and find the familiarity of our own voice to be exactly what’s needed.
But even with this, we still have the ability to diminish our own fool selves – if for no other reason than to stay in a comfortable place. We can talk ourselves out of a dozen things before the sun goes down and end up causing more harm than good. And if we get too beside ourselves, that self-loathing transfers to social media. Now you’re giving everyone permission to reinforce this war you’ve waged within yourself.
In 2018, Cosmopolitan shared a brief, but powerful, interview with Issa Rae about inner confidence. She said, "Confidence comes from knowing your sh*t is good." Yes, ma’am. Fair enough. She also touched on how confidence can vary in different aspects of your life, adding, "I’m for sure confident when it comes to work and trying to fulfill my dreams. Socially, the confidence has teetered, but that’s growing as I’m coming into who I am."
When Issa Dee would rap in the mirror, it was her singular way to express herself. Every time she was in the bathroom mirror, it was her safe space. It was how you knew what she was thinking and feeling. It was her opportunity to practice life and being a person.
The funny thing was that her raps were whack! But at the end of the day, they made her feel comfortable and empowered.
“Hey, mirror b***h / You’re lookin’ real clean / You’re lookin’ real bad / You’re lookin’ like a queen.”
One of my personal favorites, by the way.
I just believe that Black women have the right to be vulnerable. The constant narrative that we have to be the strong Black woman – don’t let them see you sweat – is an unfair burden of expectation that, frankly, I’m tired of carrying.
This is why the self-talk in the bathroom mirror exists. The morning affirmations, the whack raps, and the conversations that no one can have with me but me.
Instead of re-watching Insecure, I decided to take it back a little further to The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl on YouTube. That’s where the real magic started, and so it shall be.