I received this shirt and onesie in exchange for an honest review. These are my honest thoughts (but spoiler alert, it's pretty great, y'all)
I feel like we discussed this on the podcast at some point (the Captain Marvel roundtable of all places) but one of the biggest pet peeves of mine is that there is hardly any Black Panther merchandise around. As much as I love Black Panther, I am sure that I could fund an entire Disney project, should they just give me what I friggin' want.
So imagine my surprise at showing up at Wakandacon and seeing this incredible Wakanda-ish shirt. And I completely lost it when I saw the Baby-ish onesie.
Before I get deep into this review, let me tell you a little bit about Philosofher: The Love and Life of Her. One look at the site and you'll be drawn in by the and eye-catching apparel. Concitta, the genius behind Philosofher, also does event branding, wedding invitations, and more. She is a well rounded creative.
According to the site (because I cannot do this amazing level of writing justice), this is Philosofher's story:
With intent, philosofher is a collection of apparel, stationery, novelties, and such, curated to celebrate the life of, the love of, creatives and women - “…from [their] hair follicles to [their] toenails,” -Jill Scott.
The selection of each item, the quotes penned or borrowed, the custom designs, and everything in between are all made possible with creative energy, passion, and detailed attention.
Embracing the laissez-faire and soul-snatching energy of New Orleans and the brazen, charming spirit of Chicago, philosofher is what happens when the creativity of two cities collide and merge...
First things first, I'm a plus-size gal. So with almost any clothes I wear, I find myself very disappointed to find they have nothing in my size. Pictured below, the Wakanda-ish shirt is in an XL and very roomy, I tucked it in to give it a fitted appearance, but the XL fit is AMAZING. Not too tight, not too big. I usually wear a 2X in shirts due to an abundance of boob-age. So this was an absolute win.
I live in an area where not many people get Black Panther or Black-ish references, but I still got a lot of compliments on it anyway.
The one who got the biggest compliments was my little Bb-y 8. He rocked that onesie like the model he is. The only thing he didn't like? The tag in the back. But it's an easy solution to cut the tag if needed. I've had to do it with A LOT of his clothes. Here he is pictured in an 18-month onesie.
In case you couldn't tell, I love this company. The shirts are comfy. The sizing is dope, and it's cute as heck. 10/10 would recommend.
What do you guys think? Think you'll head over to Philisofher: The Love and Life of Her and buy? Hop in the comments section and let me know what you
Sure, you never lived in the jungle and had a best friend named Boots. You probably never had a song about a backpack or even a cousin named Diego.
But as I kept watching Dora and the Lost City of Gold, I had to shake my head and say "Shoot, Dora is me." And I can bet that if you spend enough time on Geeky Girl Guide, you will feel the same way.
First of all, let me say that, next to Aladdin, this is one of my favorite live-action remakes. Not only did they address the awkwardness of Dora breaking the 4th wall (can you say delicioso? say delicioso!) but that entire high school experience was accurate. When Diego told her that high school was life or death, it wasn't even an exaggerating. High School, in my experience, was being in survival mode all the time. Being in the jungle was probably a lot easier.
Now before I go any further, some of you may ask "why in the heck should I go see a movie about a cartoon for preschoolers?" I promise you, it's not like that at all. It's got a good plot and it's pretty funny if you remember OG Dora. Even if you're an adult, I think you will still enjoy it. Heck, I did!
Back to Dora. While it was hilarious that her dad told her about the dangers of raves, that piece of advice made me think. When we go to high school, none of us are prepared. All we have is tidbits of advice that we got from High School Musical or She's All That. We all go in thinking we are just going to go and be ourselves.
The scene of her dancing (doing the peacock, specifically) was enough to make me cringe with nostalgic embarrassment. I WAS that girl, I was inherently strange and getting laughed at non-stop. At the same time, I wish I had another Dora when I was in high school.
We would be weird best friends. We would sing songs and explore places and randomly yell "Swiper no swiping!" at anyone who tried to stop us.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold hits theaters on August 9th. Be sure to check it out. And be sure to stay for this new version of "We Did It."
Trust me, it will be a good time. Cheers to you Dora, Quirk Queen of the Century!
Do all good things really have to come to an end? Can't we just keep going and going and *cue music for "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye"
I woke up this morning feeling two opposite emotions. Super excited to spend one last day at Wakandacon and also super sad that I only had one last day at Wakandacon.
I ran into Lusciously_Wicked Cosplay and her fiance again (shout out to that amazing SNOWoncye cosplay) and we hugged and were so glad to run into each other one last time.
Don't worry, it won't be the last you hear of her through this blog *wink*
The amazing thing about this con is it's not just a love for all things Black Panther, it's a love for all black people. Black people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, college degrees ALLL kinds of black people were welcomed here.
That isn't to say (I can't believe I even have to say this) that this con is against white people or ONLY for POC. It's all about the openness of the atmosphere. How comfortable I was to just exist.
I wasn't a black blogger. I wasn't a black fan. At Wakandacon, I was simply Quinzel
Panel: Writing While Black
Now listen, y'all already know that I am a writer. So this panel was exclusively for me and for my needs y'all XD. But let me share with you a couple of really cool quotes I heard from the panelists:
- "You can't revise a blank page"
- "No one can write that story the way that you do"
I can't say enough good things about this panel! Check out Book Euphoria to learn more about the awesome panelist (which are all black authors, btw)
Panel: Closing Ceremonies With The Founders
As much as I want to beg for more time, this was the final panel that marked the end of the con. Remember that Women of Wakandacon article I wrote last year? Well I got to see Lisa and Taylor on this panel. Sadly, Ali wasn't in attendance and had another engagement.
They thanked everyone and gave the floor to anyone who wanted to say anything. What followed was an outpouring of thank you's that was enough to bring the founders and everyone in the room to tears.
Also, a couple got engaged during the closing ceremony. Y'all know I'm a sucker for romance.
Like I mentioned in Day 2, if I have one regret with this con, it's that I can't do everything. Some things that I missed out on that I regret now are:
- Shuri's Room: The Official Wakandacon Code-a-Thon: Seriously bummed because I've always wanted to know how to code. Everyone who stopped in, whether they already knew how to code or not, loved it.
- Gaming Marathons: I had hoped that since it was going down all weekend that I could catch a sneak in the gaming room but I did not. I know there was a Mortal Kombat and a Smash Bros. gaming competition and I would have been down to watch (and maybe play) that.
- Queerkanda: That was a panel I would have especially loved to see for myself. But it definitely got OUTSTANDING reviews. Next year, Quinzel, next year.
This was a hard, hard con to leave. Usually, the Con Depression sets in after I've had some time to reflect. But this...it just sucks because I don't want to go back to real life. I want to code and I want to see people walk around in amazing costumes and I want to be comfortable at the intersection where my blackness and nerdiness meet and...
Con depression can really make you spiral. But it's important to know that Wakandacon isn't just one weekend. It took all of these wonderful people to plan this, to attend this, to vend wonderful merchandise at this, and to network and speak about this.
We out here, Wakandacon just gave us a way to all be in the same space at the same time.
I still don't wanna go, though #crying
Spoiler Alert: I think Wakandacon may just be my favorite con.
Yeah, I've attended lots of cons. I've volunteered with a few too. But man, this one is top-notch.
What can I say? The volunteers were great, seriously ALL of them. The vendors were extremely friendly. Heck, Leia from Just Play Entertainment was nice enough to do a demo of her game "Hip Hop Charades" with us. It was a hilariously good time. I'm definitely buying the online version of this game.
Family-Friendly And They Mean It
One thing I also loved about the con is that it doesn't preach about being a family-friendly convention, Wakandacon just is. They have more than just a play area for kids. Kids can have their own panels and even a STEM booth was set up for them. There were no side-eyes at crying children but overall, the kids seemed extremely happy to be there. I think I'll be bringing my (not so) little Bby-8 next year. I definitely think Leslie should bring her Geeky Baby one year
Panel: Cosplaying While Black
I'm disappointed that I couldn't clone two of me for just that day because there were SO MANY amazing panels and I couldn't go to them all. Some of those panels were "Melanin and Mental Health", "Taking Black Magic to New Heights: Diversifying the Space Industry", and "Queerkanda".
The discussion was revolved around things we already know and experience as black and brown cosplayers. The two biggest takeaways were:
- Black cosplayers get so much more hate than a white person doing the same cosplay
- because of that, it can be extremely emotionally taxing to cosplay while black.
We as POC know this, but it was so validating to hear. I hate when I bring up an issue with racism in cosplay and people dismiss me by saying "Nooooo, we are all the one race: the human race"
That's great, but it still doesn't solve the issue of people threatening us and calling us "apes".
These cosplayers shared their pain, but they also shared their strengths. This panel was full of inspirational people who give back to their communities and are overall strong and positive people. They inspire anyone who wants to cosplay to go out and DO IT. There was even a short slide showing the panelist and their cosplay evolutions. It really proved that your craft gets better over time.
I LOVED all of their cosplays, but my absolute favorite cosplay was Ashhuhlee who was cosplaying as Max dressed as Powerline from A Goofy Movie
For those of ya'll who don't know, it's this scene from the movie:
All of these cosplayers worked super hard to put on this panel and it turned out amazing. If you want to get to know them, here are their Instagrams:
Icy Ace Cosplay IG: @d.etheridge.alpha
Outta Line Cosplay IG: @outtalinecosplay
Lusciously_Wicked Cosplay (with Javon Jackson. They are engaged and cosplay together awwww) IG: @Lusciously_Wicked Cosplay
SuperDan6488 Cosplay IG: @danlemon88
Ashhuhlee IG: @ashhuhlee
Suga Bear Co IG: @sugabearco
Cosplay Contest and Parade
Showing again how good this con is to their kiddos, they had the kiddos come out first and I about drowned in cuteness. The "awwwww"s never stopped.
The adults still came and showed out. Congrats to the winner Dr. Esquivel Ph.D. It lights up!!!
After the contest. There was a cosplay parade. As the line of cosplayers circled around the convention center, they began Jabari Tribe chants that echoed throughout the halls of the convention center.
I L I V E D!
I'll admit, whether I'm working or doing press at a con, I am not the greatest at remembering to eat. I know I know I need to take care of myself, but it is what it is. my mind just isn't on food.
So imagine my surprise as I came across this lovely booth with cupcakes and chocolate turtles. Sweet Tooth Confections by Ariel "Cocoa" Scott was a lifesaver at that moment. But when I tell you how DELICIOUS this cupcake was...woo chile... I am so sad I don't live in Chicago. But she did say she would try to see about shipping cupcakes in the future. So that's good. You will hear my shout from the rooftops if that happens.
Overall, it was an amazing day at an amazing con. I am a die-hard fan now. Wakandacon forever. I don't want to leave.
I'm not sure if this counts as an official day one, because I didn't get to see the con until about one hour before they closed. You can thank the Greyhound Bus for that one.
This story is one for the podcast, but if you follow my twitter, I gave you a snippet of what happened. From the driver telling us to act like "real" men and women, to driving off the road and telling us to "shut the hell up" when we alerted him of such, to being well over 8 hours late to Chicago, this is a story for the ages.
I wish I could say sorry for this. But being as that Greyhound hasn't done anything but send a copy+paste tweet at this point, I have to, for lack of a better pun, throw them under the bus.
You would think that god-awful bus ride would be enough to set the tone for my vacation but no. You could imagine my relief of seeing that purple Wakandacon sign and walking up to the table for my press pass. Everyone had a big smile and was super helpful. If they were at all overwhelmed, I couldn't tell. I got a quick peek in the vendor hall and, let me tell you, you are going to LOVE what they have to offer.
Sorry about not getting this one out last night folks. I needed a minute to recharge and relax after that whole debacle.
I'm super excited to show y'all everything that Wakandacon has to offer. Stay tuned!
1994 was a good year. It was the year one of my favorite Disney movies came to theaters. I saw The Lion King for the first time on a humid night in June. I don't remember what I was wearing, but I am sure it was something along the lines of overalls and hair scrunchies.
I remember being amazed by "Circle of Life" and "I Just Can't Wait To Be King". My childhood was at its height when I saw Simba and Nala running through those zebras. And then...and T H E N
I don't know exactly why I wasn't moved to tears by Mufasa's cartoon death. I was seven years old, so I had some concept of emotional intelligence, right? Well, I must not have. The older woman sitting next to me was crying- no -SOBBING! Full on shaking and sobbing out loud in this theater. 7-year-old Quinzel was confused. Mufasa's not really dead. He's in the sky, see! He wasn't going anywhere!
Well, I definitely grew up and wasn't able to ignore the implications of death any longer. This time, not only would I see this movie as an adult, but as an adult who also has a child.
Because of this, I didn't stand a chance, I full on boo hoo-ed through this scene yall.
The thing about this being live action, you see everything. You see and can feel every little detail,
Imagine watching a tiny Simba trying to avoid the stampede of animals.
When he falls from the limb, Mufasa grabs him by the nape of his neck and lovingly places him on the rock. He breathes for one second. One small second of relief before being carried away by the gazelles again.
Simba searches for him. But this time, you don't see the panic in his eyes like in the animated version. It seems like his fur sticks straight up in a panic. His body stiffens.
Mufasa emerges, using all of his strength to climb up the rock wall. He is not visibly bloody or injured, but you can tell that he climbs in pain. That it takes strength to scale this wall that he doesn't have. And then...
Betrayal, pain, and a fatal fall to the bottom. You don't need to hear him hit the ground. You don't need to find him in a pool of blood. The eery silence aside from a single gazelle leaping, you just know.
Simba nudging Mufasa's lifeless body to wake up is enough to start the first steam of tears. But after he cries for help and nothing happens, he decides to cuddle under his dad's lifeless paw.
Say what you want about live-action, I might be inclined to agree with you. But seeing this scene for R E A L about killed me.
Dooooonnnn't even get me started on "Remember who you are".
It is now a tradition that my spouse, kiddo, and I attend our local Pride festival each year. It's one of my favorite things to do because Pride is like this little force field of awesome where the daily effects of homophobia and willful ignorance about sexuality cannot penetrate it. However you identify, there is something beautiful about people coming together in one place to be exactly who they are with no judgment and interference from anyone else.
Also, Pride is just a heckin' good time. There's a ferris wheel. It's the bomb diggity.
Only in the last few years of my life have I been able to enjoy Pride. I have an aunt (who I'm no longer in contact with for soon-to-be obvious reasons) who would laugh about Pride. She would say horrible things about going to Pride just to "sight-see" (I'm using a better word here) and I was traumatized by this. I was so afraid there were hundreds of straight people like her at Pride who just saw everyone there as "entertainment" (using a different word again as not to trigger).
My first year at Pride made me see that someone with my aunt's mindset would never last a day at Pride.
As accepting, loving, and fun as Pride is, you would think that would be enough to make me cry behind my sunglasses. But no. The first year I attended, I was awestruck. I completely took in the energy around me and felt the positivity, the freedom to just be, running through my veins.
I was happy. I was free. But I didn't cry. Not yet...
Back to the relevancy of bringing up my aunt earlier, I am not in contact with anyone in my family. They don't know where I live or have my number. And I pray to all of the gods, every last one of them, that I don't run into them.
Why? Well, that's a loaded question and maybe this isn't the post for that. But the dynamics were pretty bad. I got to a point when I realized that I could leave, I could sever ties and choose myself first. Once I realized that, I ran in the middle of the night and didn't look back. Abuse will do that too you, either leave you frozen in fear or getting the hell out of dodge Forrest Gump style.
So I'm living life without my birth family. It's painful but I have amazing friends. But, as amazing as my friends are, even as amazing as YOU ARE because you're reading this right now and supporting me, I crave the love of a parent, the unconditional love of a family. I love my friends, my spouse, my beautiful baby. I'm more than prepared to catch them when they fall, but who is there to catch me?
Back to Pride: it was a sunny Sunday morning. So sunny, in fact, I came armed with a new pair of sunglasses, so I wouldn't, you know, go blind.
As I walked down the vendor hall, I notice a group of women wearing shirts that say Free Mom Hugs embracing a group of people. A man also wears a Free Dad Hugs shirt and my throat catches.
I never talk about my dad and it's because I've never met him. My parents were married but they divorced when I was one. He's been gone ever since. The only picture I've seen is of him looking down. I've never even seen his eyes. None of the adults in my life would willingly give me any information about him.
So I've never in my life been hugged by my own dad. And all of the men that I'm blood-related to, my uncles specifically... let's just say any physical contact they are accustomed to is a bit stronger than a hug.
The man wearing the Free Dad Hugs shirt made eye contact with me and waved. He asked if I would like a hug. I knew I could say no, and I knew my eyes were covered with the sunglasses, thus any visible emotion coming to the surface. But I nodded.
I didn't think this hug would spark tears. That a simple pat on the back would start a chain reaction of tears hitting my sunglasses like hot water from a hose. I pulled away to subtly wipe the tears from under my sunglasses. I cleared my throat and say an audible and quick "thank you."
I will blame it on my upbringing, but I hate hugging men that I don't know. I'm always afraid that a hug is signing a contract with a hidden clause that I don't realize until it's too late. But in that moment, I felt safe and I felt appreciated. Hell, I felt loved.
After I said "thank you", the group noticed my spouse and baby and I introduced them. The entire Free Hugs group clamored around little Bby-8 in the stroller, exchanging more heartfelt hugs with me. They hugged my spouse. They told me my baby was beautiful. They told me they were proud of me as a mother and that I was doing a good job. And then I teared up again. Not hard enough for them to (blatantly) notice, but enough to where the sunglasses fogged up quicker. Thing is, I wasn't sad, I was relieved.
Something in that interaction allowed me to unpack something that was heavy, something that was weighing me down. In that short moment, I felt that all of my hard work to better myself was worth it. I had been so used to being torn down, so used to hearing negative talk from my bloodline that receiving a hug and being told that someone is proud of me was enough to bring me to tears.
Free Mom Hugs didn't just change my life, they helped me heal. They gave me something that I've needed for a long time. If anyone from Free Mom Hugs is reading this right now, I want to tell you this: by being a temporary mom and dad to me, you all helped me be a better mom to my son. And I thank you for that with my whole heart.
Fair warning: While this post does not reveal any significant plot twists or surprises in the movie, there are slight spoilers in this post. Proceed with caution.
Oh, and read it in a sassy voice, trust me on this.
One thing you need to know about Princess Jasmine in the 2019 version of Aladdin, is that she IS that chick. She's not with the ish. She is not the one, or the two.
And She Is The Princess You Needed All Along
See, Princess Jasmine ain't the one to mess with. First of all, she's not about to sit around waiting to get married off to some man. She is not a prize to be won!
When I was a child, Aladdin was my favorite movie. I must have re-winded that VHS tape a thousand times. I don't even think that's an exaggeration, I can quote it forward and backward.
Princess Jasmine was a HUGE deal back in the 90's because FINALLY, SOMEONE IS BROWN! See, this was back in the day before Tiana in The Princess and The Frog. I took my poofy hair, tied it back in three blue hair ties, and I. Was. It!!!
Back then though, Princess Jasmine made me yearn for a flat stomach. But this Jasmine now? This Princess Jasmine right HERE?? She will make you yearn to fight for any cause that she backs.
Is she beautiful? Of-freaking-course she's beautiful, her skincare routine is ON POINT. But real talk, this is a woman who is running things. This is the woman you overlook for promotions, meanwhile, she could be running your entire company without breaking a sweat. Give. Her. All. The. Things.
On top of all that, she is watching these men in power and she is tired. Real tired. Because she knows that she could get it done herself and still sneak off to Agrabah later.
Jafar better watch out, because this Princess Jasmine might even throw a hand or two. But the amazing thing about her is that she wouldn't have to. She wouldn't even have to raise her voice. Just stepping into a room commands everyone present to shut up and listen. Now THAT'S power, Jafar.
Realest talk, Princess Jasmine is the kind of woman I aspire most to be.
There are NO SPOILERS to Avengers Endgame in this. NONE. I promise you.
One of the most highly anticipated movies of the year is, hands down, Avengers: Endgame. Everyone will be bending over backwards to see this movie opening weekend. Geeks will be seeing it and Non-Geeks will roll their chair over to your cubicle, asking you what their children/grandchildren are so excited about. It's truly a time to let your geek side shine.
If Thor Went to Movie Theaters, He Would Smash This One And Ask for More Just Like It
First off, I have always thought AMC Theaters was my only choice for a movie theater because, well, thats what we got. But WOOO CHIL-AY!!! B&B Theaters were pretty on point. This pic is a little grainy but look at how wide this isle is! You mean I don't have to put my whole butt in someone's face as I walk by? Yes!
The seats were leather recliners and they were way comfy. Comfy is what you need for a 3 hour+ movie. Can you imagine your butt and thighs fall asleep halfway through Avengers: Endgame? My bit of advice is that if you can splurge a little extra for nicer seating, this is the movie to do it for.
Also know that Marvel Studios spared no expense when it came to this movie, so the graphics are amazing. Splurge again on theaters that give you an even better, more immersive picture. Ours took place in the Grand Theater which had a huge screen and DTS:X sound. The sound was amazing, not like a big inaudible boom to ruin your ears for the rest of the movie. The sound was very crisp and clear.
To Pee Or Not To Pee
I'm going to level with you, I knew better. I knew well ahead of time that the movie was over three hours long. I knew that I needed to pee before I left the house, which I did! But see my husband was drinking this cherry Mountain Dew and my mouth was feeling dry and then it just all went downhill from there. After the movie started, my eyes widened in a panic. "Shoot, I have to pee! When do I go?"
I got deeper into the movie and I thought to myself it's now or never. Much like the track star I was never destined to be, as soon as that movie screen was out of sight, I full on SPRINTED to the restroom, which was not close to this theater. After a quick squat and washing of hands, I sprinted back, Avengers dress flapping in the wind and the concessions workers laughing behind me.
I managed to not miss much so let me give you a piece of spoiler free advice. PEE. Become your mom and threaten yourself to go before you leave the house. Make yourself go again when you are in the theater. And no drinks. NONE. B&B Theaters is planning to sell Avengers themed drinks for the movie and if I were you, grab your drink AFTER THE MOVIE.
Take it from someone who effed up, give your bladder a pep talk. But if you have to pee and want to avoid missing an important moment, I would say you are good until Ant-Man is looking out of a window and smiling. Once that happens, stay in your gosh darn seat. You, and that traitor of a bladder, are in this for the long haul.
Be Kind To Your Concessions Folks
I had two of the concessions folks call me over "Excuse me," one of them said "but we haven't seen the movie yet. Could you please tell everyone not to spoil the movie for us when they come out?"
So I took my happy ass to the theater and asked everyone to be kind to the concessions people and don't talk about what we see in front of them. And they obliged.
Just be real respectful of who you talk around guys. Yes, you're excited and yes, you wanna shout or from the rooftops, but be mindful of the people working round the clock who even make going to the movies a thing. Got it? Good!
So, Did You...Did You Like It?
In conclusion, with no spoilers attached, to answer any of your burning questions...
The answer is yes. Go see this movie.
I'm working with a new concept here. A series of blog posts and interviews that I will call Cosplayer Convos.
I enjoy cosplay. I admire cosplayers. But I think we forget that the person behind the cosplay is...a person. We see them at conventions and follow them on social media and sometimes forget that these glorified humans are just...human. I believe that by sitting down and talking to them, we can all learn something new.
Thus, I present to you: Cosplayer Convos
So, What Is a Strong Friend?
You know who they are. They are that go to person on social media. They always know what to say. Or they're someone you consider to be an IRL (in real life) friend. They don't give a crap how your homophobic uncle feels about "that lifestyle" (this is not going to be the first time I go in on your uncle, #sorrynotsorry) they're going to fight the good fight anyway
Our strong friends save the day, without breaking a sweat or shedding a tear
But, where do our strong friends go when they need a strong friend? Who do they have when they need advice? Where is a shoulder when they need to cry?
I'm holding myself accountable, as I am the friend who is often in need. I have benefited from having strong friends swoop in and rebuild me, time and time again. As someone who was still building their support system, I was extremely thankful.
BUT...was I asking them how their day was going? Was I even calling them just to have fun or was I just expecting them to appear when my life was falling apart? Was I only prepared to tag them on Facebook when arguing social justice issues, like I was summoning a Pokemon with a higher CP than my own?
When I think of a strong friend, or just a strong person in general, my mind goes to one person. One of the strongest people I know is our fearless leader, owner, and admin of Geeky Girl Guide, Leslie. Remember that time she announced on the podcast that if you are being harassed and need someone, she's your girl? Yeah, she's the bomb. She has told people she will feast on their cracklings before. And dammit, she means it. Don't mess with her.
She's got an amazing heart and will defend you to the end. As I often am scared, short, and not the least bit intimidating, I admire her strength and her ability to always push back and to speak up for what is right. Leslie does not give a red cent f#$k what you think about her.
And wrapped in all of that strength is a human being, who is just as deserving of someone willing to tear someone apart for her as she is for others. Leslie deals with life just as much as my emotional ass does. And she deserves the support that she gives to all of us
This post is about Briana of Brichibi Cosplays, but I'm dedicating this post to Leslie. Leslie: You are strong, you are seen, and you are appreciated. Never stop being you <3
Briana: The Strongest Woman You Will Ever Meet
Briana is a cosplayer that I've admired for years. Not just the ability to rock amazing cosplays (I think my favorite is a toss-up between Tiana and Wonder Woman) but to take up space in a way I hadn't seen before. Here she stood. Black. Fat. Queer. And magical.
Alongside the love of her life and longtime partner, Jessica (who is an amazing seamstress by the way) Briana seemed to have it all. But in spite of her successes, hateful people saw her and did what they did best. For every positive thought we had for Briana, there were 20 more people who were angrily typing on their keyboards letting us know in all caps how they couldn't stand her.
Briana was always overcoming. For every hateful comment, she had an equally positive one. It was always in a perfect way to shut them down. "She's got to be the strongest woman I will ever meet." I often thought to myself
There was something I didn't realize that was going on behind these posts. While I was reading them in real time, I was putting myself down thinking of how I would be "too sensitive" to deal with this if it was directed at me. I remember thinking Briana was so strong.
"I responded to every comment," Briana says about her social media posts at the beginning of her cosplay journey. I remembered this about her. I read them and admired for her being so strong despite the ongoing homophobic, fatphobic, and downright racist comments she received. Sooooo strong, and yet...
When her partner, Jessica, came home earlier that day, she noticed that Briana had been responding to each and every comment on Tumblr and told her to turn anonymous comments off. "I was like, 'I can't do that, I have to show people that if you get bullied, there's a person who can stand up and deal with it'," Briana describes of that day.
Jessica persisted, pointing out that she had been on Tumblr all day responding to comments. She again told Briana she should turn anonymous comments off. Almost instantly, Briana felt a sense of relief. "It was this moment of 'oh my God, I'm allowed to walk away'."
Waiting To Exhale: Are Your Strong Friends Holding Their Breath?
"I don't think people realize that the strong friend doesn't usually start out as being strong." Briana says
"I'm very vocal about different issues and I write about them and it's really great. But people don't understand how much that weighs down on you because most of us are pulling from personal experiences."
One thing we talked about is this iconic scene from Waiting to Exhale. Yes, that one. Where Angela Basset's character Bernie burns the car of her cheating husband. It's a pretty memorable scene that left many people saying the 90's equivalent catchphrase of YASSSSS QUEEN.
Briana brings up a great point about this scene. "Everyone talks about how she burnt the car and its badass but before that, she sat in her room and cried and even after [that scene] she cried some more. That comes with the territory of being the strong friend..."
Forgetting that our strong friends have feelings and pain behind that strength is doing them a disservice. We believe tears and strength cannot coexist. That's the trap we fall into, believing our strong friends are exempt from the pain they're always saving us from.
Too Strong and Too Soft: A Confusing and Frustrating Paradox
"It's so frustrating because they don't want us to be vulnerable, but they don't want us to be too strong either," Briana says
I can definitely see what she means by this. It's almost like we expect our strong friends to be strong within our parameters. It's like we tell them, you need to be strong, but in a way that is beneficial to me and this has to change.
"With the strong friend title they forget about the friend part," Briana says "And just focus on the strength part."
While this paradox can present itself in times of support, it can also present itself when your strong friend is being outspoken. Once they hit a nerve with someone, they're expected to pull back.
"I thought our friendship could withstand [inset topic]" is something that Briana often hears. Because she's often outspoken on these issues that often affect her personally, there seems to be this unspoken soft spot she hits with people. "I thought our friendship could withstand this" often translates to "I love it when you speak out, just not about me"
They're telling their strong friend on the surface that they hope their friendship could withstand differing politics, subtle racist tweets, and separating their friend from their sexuality. But what they're really saying is "I thought our friendship could stay beneficial to me and not disrupt my beliefs."
Whatever the case, this is exhausting. Whether the lack of support comes from not having the space to be vulnerable or only being heard under certain terms, we have to do better for our strong friends.
How to Support Your Strong Friends
It was difficult for Briana to be vulnerable, even just on social media. When expressing her feelings on Facebook, she got responses from people who said: "I don't know how to talk to you because you're so strong" (<----see, there's that saying again).
Briana describes how one of her friends showed how to be supportive in the right way "She was like 'I know you're busy and I'm busy but whenever you're free we can get together and watch anime'...that's all I wanted!"
It's not always about having the right advice or cuddling them when they cry. Sometimes your strong friend doesn't need advice or cuddles. Sometimes they just need a distraction, a neutral zone that they can build themselves up again. And that's ok.
"Don't just check on us when we're suffering...also be there when we're having a good day." Briana brings up a really good point about not just being there in trials or triumph, but in those boring in-between moments as well. Invite them to lunch when nothing particularly exciting is going on. Ask them how they're holding up just because it's Wednesday. Draw them a picture because you know it will cheer them up.
"I Shouldn't Have to Defend Myself From YOUR Friends": A Quiz
Small rant before we get to the quiz. One of my biggest peeves about Facebook is going through hoops to keep all of my content limited to only the people I want to see it. While I've made attempts at putting stricter privacy setting such as "Friends Only", by some small loophole, a status you make could still be seen by your friends Racist Uncle Twice Removed.
Briana said something that was really impactful, especially in regards to Facebook.
"I shouldn't have to defend myself from your friends"
Grab your pencils guys, this is your Quinzel Quiz of the day
Your strong friend posts something that your Racist Uncle sees (cause the way Facebook sets up mutuals, it happens). Racist Uncle does what he does best, which means sending a profoundly hateful and misspelled lashing to your strong friend.
In this situation, do you:
A) Assume your strong friend will handle it because she's great at this kind of thing
B) Let your uncle know that he shouldn't talk to your friend that way and why, thus putting a protective barrier between your strong friend and your racist uncle who still needs help setting up his iPad
The answer is B. But often times what plays out is A. It goes back to the assumption that this strong friend has GOT IT because they are vocal from these issues, so why should this be any different?
That line of thinking isn't supportive to your strong friends. It's one thing to defend yourself from strangers, but having people that you consider friends who just leave you hanging puts strong friends in a position of not only having to fight their own battles but yours too. Next time this happens, tell your Racist Uncle to take a hike and buy him a dictionary for Christmas. Auto correct will thank you.
All I really want us to do is ask ourselves are we supporting our strong friends in a way that's equal into the way they support us? Are we giving them space to be vulnerable? Or are we contributing to a burnout?
I can't tell you the number of times that I faced something in my life that was really hard but didn't think of myself as a strong person because I faced it with tears streaming down my face. I get down on myself because I think both can't co-exist. But Briana reinforced for me that I can cry my eyes out for hours and still be strong.
Briana has lived a life of pain, loss, and frustration. But she has also chased her dreams, fell in love, and continues to influence and affect everyone she meets in a positive way.
Your strong friend is this beautiful, vulnerable individual who is a force to be reckoned with. They take their tears and often turn them into a shield, protecting others from the pain they've been through. Their voice is loud because they're often speaking for the timid and unheard.
To Briana, Leslie, and all of my strong friends.
You are wonderful
You are appreciated
You are heard