by Paige Smith
Have you met the Black Superwoman?
She frequently makes an appearance during the holiday season. She is the woman who has it all together even in the midst of holiday stress—or so it seems to everyone around her. Her appearance is flawless, hair, nails, outfit are all near perfect. Her house is perfectly decorated for the holiday season. Lights are up, her tree is ornately decorated with meticulously wrapped presents below, and a beautiful holiday reef welcomes you when you come to her door for Christmas. Her superpowers only begin with this perfect holiday veneer.
The Black Superwoman is the woman who does it all and asks for no help to do it. Chances are she is hosting the family this Christmas and has volunteered to do all the cooking. She is the one who picks up the slack when others fail to do what they originally committed to do.
She is the one who stays up the night before major holidays to cook for the entire family. She is the one who responds affirmatively to every request asked of her, even at the expense of her own priorities. She keeps a constant super smile on her face, but oftentimes inside she is feeling completely overwhelmed.
She is loved by many, but few actually see or appreciate the weight she carries for everyone else. She is overworked and under-appreciated. She feels guilty about resting or even having time solely for fun and relaxation.
The Black Superwoman saves the day every time, but often is in dire need of being saved herself.
By now you have probably identified a Black superwoman in your life or have realized that you yourself are or have attempted to be the Black superwomen. There is no more tempting time than the holidays for Black women to put on their superwoman capes and do it all. The only problem is none of us are superhuman and as you can see from the description above, the Black Superwoman is just as imperfect and helpless as the rest of us.
Why then do we see the Superwoman arise so often? Why do we as Black women bend towards this stereotypical figure? The root causes may range from unbalanced power dynamics in the Black family due to the lack of a paternal figure to a deep unmet insecurity in the Black female psyche.
Could it be that the modern Black woman feels the pressure to be “super” because she is afraid to show her true weakness? It seems easier to put on a superhero guise at times than to face our own humanity.
As a young mom and wife I know I have tried–unsuccessfully—to be this mythical Black Superwoman (I say mythic because a true superwoman does not exist). I would be falling apart on the inside, but pretended everything was going great even to my own frustration. I wanted so bad to be authentic, vulnerable, and open but my fears of seeming as if I didn’t have it all together or being rejected in my place of weakness trumped my desire to be helped.
Thank God I had women in my life that could see past my phony superpowers and reached out to help me in my inadequacies.
That is the real tragedy of the Black superwoman. She seems to be doing wonderfully but behind closed doors she can be struggling to the point of a near breakdown. Yet she masks all of her weaknesses behind an “I can do it all” façade.
Events such as the holiday season can be even harder for “Black superwomen” who have even more tasks and responsibilities to complete than usual and an even greater audience expecting them not to miss a beat.
Today are you a black superwoman? In the demands of the holiday season do you feel like you have to do it all or nothing will get done?
I encourage you to take off your superwoman cape, remove the S off your chest, and realize you are only human. And that is perfectly okay.
Being superwoman seems like a great idea initially, but in the end it only leads to a hard and fast burn out. Going a mile a minute from activity to activity and chore to chore without rest or fun can seem like a sure way to be efficient, but it is not only counterproductive, but destructive as well.
There is power in rest and an even greater power in our weakness.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
There is a power that comes when we admit our need for a strength greater than our own. God loves brokenness. He is near to the brokenhearted, He gives grace to the humble, and He gives power to the weak.
Yet in the same light, God will resist those who pretend to not need help until they discover they can’t do it alone. Because the truth is when we deny others the ability to help us we are denying God the opportunity to use people to bless and help us.
God created us for relationship, to walk life alongside each other, bearing each other up in our weaknesses. We were not created to keep everyone at an arm’s distance in fear they may see our flaws.
All of us have more weaknesses than just kryptonite. We are all human and all have a need for one another. Today I encourage you to embrace your weaknesses and to take a step of faith and reach out for help this holiday season.
What is the area you have been feigning perfection in? Is it fellowship you need? Do you need help with your children? Do you need a date night with your husband? Are your finances out of control? Has your self-image been taking a negative turn? Do you need advice on a relationship? Are you overwhelmed with keeping up with your house? Are finals stressing you out? Have you been considering quitting something? Whatever that area is that has been silently stealing your joy and peace, acknowledge it.
You don’t need to be superwoman, please open up. Share with someone you trust and experience the healing that comes when you are truly transparent with another person.
I know firsthand how difficult it can be to be superwoman, and yet how scary it can also be to put away those superwoman props and be your authentic, flawed, beautiful self. But it is so worth it! You will be amazed as you see your relationships flourish and a freedom and true confidence come that you may have never experienced.
I encourage you to pray this prayer with me:
“Jesus I thank you that you were bruised for my iniquities. Even though you were the real superhero, you became weak for me when you died on a rugged cross. Thank you for demonstrating the power of being weak and vulnerable. I know I can’t do it all. Thank you that your strength is made perfect in my weakness. Help me to be weak and receive your grace and love for me today. In Your Name I pray, Amen.”
I pray this post has encouraged you to break out of the Holiday Superwoman stereotype and just BE YOU! If this article has blessed you, feel free to comment and share with those who may be battling this pressure to be a superwoman as well. For deeper reading, I highly recommend Free To Be You by Mrs. Lee!