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Last summer I was at a family reunion weekend with a side of my family I don’t know very well. One night they threw a dance party for all the youth and a few of my older female cousins decided they wanted to battle us. What started out as a light-hearted dance off, turned into a booty-pooping, tongue flicking, chest-jingling mess—on their part. At one point, one of the women was determined to show me how to drop into a split properly. After she managed to slide down into a perfect split, she then gave me the “Yeah B—th, get like me!” look. It was so sad.

All I could think was, “I hope I don’t act like that when I get older.” Not only was it silly for it to become a battle of the generations, but it was sad to see grown women acting so childish. I realize that acting one’s age can be subjective, however, to see women 30 and older dancing so raunchy in a room full of children was crazy to me. I once thought with age came wisdom, grace, maturity and class. Nowadays age really ain’t nothing but a number. I say this because more and more it seems our ‘grown ass women’ are acting like ‘little ass girls’ (excuse the expression). For example, remember when Vivica Fox was dating 50 Cent and she came on stage during one of his performances in booty shorts and a tank desperately looking the part of a video vixen? Here was this beautiful and accomplished actress, who seemed as though she was still trying to prove she had “it.” (i.e. The looks. The moves. The younger man.)

In a way, this type of scenario plays out daily. While generational issues between our women is nothing new–whether it’s the mature snubbing the younger or the spring chickens writing off the older–it is no secret that we as women often feel like we have to be in competition with one another.

And, unfortunately for some, being grown and sexy now means proving how well you can keep up with the generation under you. These are the women who see younger women as a threat and/or constantly feel the need to compete with them rather than take the younger generation under their wing. Whether it’s knowing how to cook, please a man or their level of physical beauty, they want you to know they got you beat. Yet and still, the same women can be found clubbing every weekend, cursing or showing out in public and/or shopping for clothes in Forever 21. Despite how grown they are, they take part in the same things usually associated with ‘silly young girls.’

Today in a society that tends to value women on how sexy they are and how young they can look, there is a mentality where women must also prove how young they can act. Now you see more and more of our mothers, aunts, older cousins and others trying to prove how well they can keep up with or do it better than the latest batch of PYTs, instead of being an example of maturity and growth.

The question is why?

Aside from the women in my family, women like Angela Basset, Jada Pinkett or Mary J. Blige are all (grown) women who continue to inspire me. Yes, they are still sexy and could probably look just as good or better in a two-piece than a lot of girls half their age. Yet, above all of that, they are dynamic mothers, wives and career women. When I look at them I see what I want to be like years from now. Their “grown-ness” is obvious in the way they carry themselves and not the way they flaunt themselves. They have an aura that says: Been there. Done that. Past that.

So, for example, I doubt I would ever see Angela Basset posted up in a bikini letting it all hang out for the cover of a magazine or music video, trying to prove she still has “it.” And to be honest I wouldn’t want to. Of course she is gorgeous, but why would a truly grown and accomplished women feel the need to prove herself in such a way? Just by being the graceful woman she is, speaks volumes. Or, as MJB put it in her song, appropriately titled “Grown Woman”:

“I wear these seven jeans/ But baby they don’t where me
I keep it covered up/ ‘Cause I’m a lady
I know how to show a little somethin’ somethin’
Can’t see what’s under there ‘cause I’m a grown woman”

So, while there is nothing wrong with being grown and sexy, it would be nice to see more women embrace the grown part. Partaking in the same shenanigans, competing with or dressing like younger women does not prove anything. And yes, while we as young women should always have respect for the women ahead of us, we should also be able to learn from them. But we can only learn from an example. And by the looks of things, the current generation of young women may be screaming “50 is the new 20” years from now–cue “Forever Young.”

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  • Christina

    Being young doesn’t constitute wearing trashing and reavealing clothing. I am 22 years old and you wouldn’t catch me in a two piece at a club dropping a split. Yes young women are more likely to flaunt themselves a bit more, but how one carries themselves and how they dress is something learned from a young age. Dressing like a stripper at any age ain’t the business.

    I do appreciate this article though. The older generations are role models to us younger ones whether they like it or recognize it. Anytime I see an older black woman who has got it going on physically, mentally, spiritually, it motivates me to strive to be even flyer in older age:)

  • Ally

    Gee, I guess the writer wants us to just stop living at 30? I’ll live until I die and I’ll dress the way I please.

    Now for the booty popping…ummm, not my style, but if it makes you happy and your having fun, I say LIVE LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • It’s like you’re in my mind……so insightful and true. Sadly to say this makes me think of both my own mother and grandmother (in a sense)…Sigh. It’s taking me all restraint and my own “grown woman” characteristics not to post this on FB….LOL.