• e.l.f. cosmetics

    Shaming and Community: We’re all in this together? Right?

    I’ve often felt that because I am a person that generally has it together, I’m not allowed to fall apart, make mistakes, or not have my stuff together. I often feel that I have to be “on.” I’m Gabby. She doesn’t cry, mess up, or not project togetherness. Do you know how exhausting it is to feel like people expect you to ALWAYS HAVE IT TOGETHER? (And please don’t tell me that I’m being dramatic or making this up- I’m not. It has been told to me on many different occasions by many different people.) Sometimes, I feel like I’m not allowed to be human.

    I’m a big believer in the importance of community. I personally feel like I belong to many different ones and I go hard for them. My communities are composed of people of different sizes, races, genders, “status” levels, etc. They often support me, uplift me, and help me make it through. But, sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes they fail me. 

    I always thought that communities were places of refuge full of people who would have your back. Of course this clearly isn’t true. But why? Why do we judge and shame each other for things that we don’t have the full context on? Why do people assume that they know things about a person just because of what they see or hear? Why don’t we bother to check-in- to see how our sisters are doing? Why do we not allow certain people to feel like they can be human? Why do we not give each other some GRACE? 

    I’m not saying I’m perfect. I can admit to sometimes being apart of the problem. But I want to challenge myself and all who read this to do better. Instead of judging the woman next to you because you heard she did xyz with X person and you just can’t believe it, ask yourself, ask her why. AND furthermore, ask yourself why you care? If it’s not directly affecting you or someone that you deeply care about, why are you interested? Gossiping gets no one anywhere and only hurts all of the parties involved. 

    If we want to build community, real, true, lasting community, we have to do better than this. We have to treat each other better than this. Get some context. Seek to uplift the woman sitting next to you. Do not assume things about her character without bothering to dig a bit deeper. Do not spend your time talking about situations that don’t pertain to you. Be so busy watering your own grass, that you don’t have time to notice if someone else’s is greener. And if you really feel like you sister is going down a destructive path, care enough to say something to her, instead of about her. 

    You can shame people or you can build community- but the two are mutually exclusive. We cannot have one and the other. We have to choose. I pray, we choose wisely. 

    Gabrielle Hickmon
    Gabrielle Hickmon

    Find me on: Web | Twitter



    1. Melinda Lu
      November 12, 2014 / 12:14 am

      I do not identify as a Black woman, but I really appreciated your piece, because I think — scratch that– know this is something all communities of women struggle with. And especially, when you’re a minority (woman), in a minority (ethnic minority), at a top-tier university like Cornell, your community becomes so much smaller and so much more vital for your support system and success.

      You write beautifully, and ended the passage with a very strong point that many, if not all women, have taken the time to ask themselves at least once before. "You can shame people or you can build community- but the two are mutually exclusive." I really liked that, because just in this semester alone, I feel that I have said the same thing a dozen times to friends and sisters I care deeply about.

      Whether they made the right decision from there is another story, but I think it’s safe to say that people who think (positively) like this are increasing and if we continue to encourage each other to uplift and not tear down, then our communities grow stronger.

      • The Reign
        November 12, 2014 / 1:00 am

        Thank you so much for reading and sharing your reaction to the piece Melinda! I hope you’ll join my in the challenge of creating better communities for the women in our lives. 🙂

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    ASOS.com USA