Why Beyonce and her ‘Lemonade’ are Unbelievably Unreal

[Feature Image via Facebook.com/beyonce]

by Neerali Patel

“She isn’t real,” one of my friends said to me after watching “Lemonade.”

The words and the idea have been a defining, consistent and consensual reaction to Beyoncé’s existence for as long as I can remember. Whether it’s her die-hard fans who put her on a pedestal that seems outside of this Earth’s gravitational field or her harshest critics who think that she and her success are a product of our capitalist, materialistic, celebrity-worshipping culture. There is an air of incredulousness, ranging from ethereal to not real at all, that surrounds Beyoncé. And it makes us all look.

With “Lemonade,” the visual album that released on HBO on April 23, 2016, Beyoncé continues her tradition of inspiring disbelief among the millions who watch and wonder. And yet, this time, it is for very different reasons.

“Lemonade” shows sides of Beyoncé that we rarely get to see and in ways that we’ve never seen—broken, heartbroken, suicidal, doubtful, apathetic, vengeful, angry, aggressive, vulgar and at times, crazy and jealous. Some of these descriptions are more fitting for the likes of Azealia Banks, who, in my opinion, has served as the pop cultural foil to Beyoncé. Banks is known for her harsh, polarizing tirades on topics such as cultural appropriation while Beyoncé is known to stay far away from divisive, heavy subjects. Hell, Beyoncé is known for not saying anything at all.She goes through stretches of years of giving no public interviews. Her edges usually only come out in her music, and in the form of her alter ego Sasha Fierce.

But her silence has come at a cost.

In recent years, the Carters have been slammed by the African American community for their eerie silence and indifference on racial injustice in our country. And I agreed with this criticism. I had accepted that their almost unprecedented wealth and fame had put them out of touch with the experiences of most black people.

One of the groups of people on the front lines of racial injustice that are rarely at the forefront of our collective national concern are black women. The women who are losing their sons to police brutality, who are at effect to police brutality themselves. Who are objectified and overly sexualized in pop culture and media. Who are, as Beyoncé quotes Malcolm X in “Lemonade:”

“The most disrespected [people] in America…The most unprotected [people] in America…The most neglected [people] in America…”

When we look to the pioneering black women in our country who have center stage: There’s Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Beyoncé, to name a few. Each of these public figures reminds us, either directly or indirectly, that you can have immense success, respect and fame in America despite being born into your adverse or average circumstances—in this case, being born a black woman in America.

You can have a voiceif you earn the right platform.

But what does it take to get that platform? At least, what did it take during Beyoncé’s formative years? Could she really have stayed completely true and exclusive to her Southern roots and black heritage and gained the  mass-appeal that she has today? Could she have been as raw and unfiltered as Azealia Banks to achieve the status she has today?

I’d argue no.

She had to distance herself from certain narratives. Malcolm Gladwell said in a speech at the 2013 New Yorker Festival on the topic of “Tokens, Pariahs and Pioneers”:

“If you’re an outsider and you’re accepted, in part, by the majority, your identity has to change and that’s a complex process. That certain parts of your identity may have been tied up in being excluded. What’s interesting, for example, is if you talk to older African Americans who remember segregation…even though they are 100% happy that the days of segregation are over, they will also tell you that there were aspects of being excluded that were positive. There was a sense of community, a sense of coherence…When we’re gaining something large, we’re sometimes losing something specific.”

So, what exactly has Beyoncé been known to embrace at the expense of other black women? What has distanced her? What is the something specific that has been lost in her being a black woman as an extension of a larger group?

I think that on a subconscious level her fame and success have reinforced the “despite it all” narrative. When Oprah, for example, reminds us that she was able to achieve such success despite being born “a [poor] colored girl in the backwoods of Mississippi,” one of the implicit messages communicated to us is that if she was able to succeed despite such overwhelming adversity—and by such a large margin at that—what is the excuse for everyone else? Do they lack work ethic? Values? Are they just bitter and angry?

Beyoncé’s role has had a similar effect. If Beyoncé can have it all—an iconic career, half a billion dollars, a beautiful marriage, an even more beautiful child and a perfect post-baby body, what is stopping you? Why are other black women and women of color so far from this ideal?

Linked to this is the second point I want to make, which centers around the phenomenon of more direct and deliberate social distancing. In his speech, “Token, Pariahs, and Pioneers,” Malcolm Gladwell  explains, “Sometimes when the door opens, it opens for everybody else. Sometimes when the door opens, it gets shut.”

Let me explain.

Beyoncé has been an exception to detrimental narratives and stereotypes of black women in our country. And I’m not sure it has been wholly coincidental.

Gladwell says:

“One of the things that you see with tokens is that their status is so precarious that in order to maintain it, they feel compelled to adapt to the values of the majority group. So you get the phenomenon of “acting white” if you’re one of the first black people through the door. Or women who feel compelled to masculinize their behavior when they enter all male professions…that actually plays into the dynamics that I’m talking about because it’s another way not only for you not to be seen for who you are, you can’t be who you are. You’re forced to kind of take on another role. And of course the person playing…the majority then, after forcing you to act like them, will judge you even more harshly because you’re not gonna be as good as being them.”

Specifically, Beyoncé has been the antithesis of the detrimental “angry black woman” narrative. Beyoncé is always smiling. She has climbed up by being pleasant, kind, working harder than anyone we know. In “Lemonade,” she even says in reference to her husband being distant that she:

“…tried to change. Close [her] mouth more. Tried to be softer. Prettier. Less awake.”

I believe this is also a metaphor in the context of a politically charged album—being less ‘woke’ to the racial distress that plagues our country. The extent to which she has done this because it’s inherent to her nature versus how much she had to force these qualities to be accepted by the larger group is something worth considering.

Why? Because with “Lemonade,” as she reaches yet another peak in her career, Beyoncé shows us that much of who she is and how she feels is, in fact, angry and frustrated. Maybe the qualities that constitute what it means to be a respectable black woman—one that is cooperative, agreeable, all too kind all too often are criterion set by the majority—the non-black majority. It may be easier for white folks to do these things and to seek out the self-help section of Barnes and Noble during difficult times because they just don’t have the same fire burning in them—and burning them.

More than simply expressing her anger, Beyoncé actually embraces the detrimental Angry Black Woman narrative. Beyoncé is no longer saying that your relationship with your man will be okay if you just put on your Freakum Dress and heels. That even civility in leaving someone who has mistreated you isn’t required.

In her song “Don’t Hurt Yourself” she says:

“Who the fuck do you think I am? You ain’t married to no average bitch boy, you can watch my fat ass twist boy, as I bounce to the next dick boy. And keep your money, I got my own…Motivate your ass…Call me Malcolm X…Fuck you hater.”

In “Hold Up”, Beyoncé is the same fierce high-heel and dress wearing diva we know and love, but she’s also busting through car windows with a bat…that says “hot sauce” on it. Other parts of the film show her in cornrows and Yoruba paint and defiantly sitting on porch steps with her sisterhood.

Up until now, we thought Beyoncé had everything. And she might. But in “Lemonade,” she so intensely shows us the anger and darkness that define her; that maybe she doesn’t exist in some immortal stratosphere of existence. Maybe she is just one of us, at least in her pain, in her feelings of brokenness. Despite having attained all the measures of success, she still feels her man and her country aren’t treating her right and that she deserves more, but not more in the way of material things as her song “6 Inch” reveals:

“She works for the money from the start to the finish..Stacking money money everywhere she goes…She grinds day and night…[but]…She’s too smart to crave material things.”

She’s not working for material success, but something else—something more. When will she get it? Why hasn’t she gotten it yet?

In her particularly politically charged song “Formation” (in which she sits atop a drowning cop car), she says:

“Earned all this money but they never take the country off me.”

This line, in the context of the song, reinforces my belief about Beyoncé’s previously more aggressive business-like, mass-appeal approach to her craft than a free-spirited, wholly artistic one in the way we might recognize in her little sister Solange. She’s worked incredibly hard to arrive at where she is. She and Jay-Z have a combined net worth of one billion dollars and yet, she can’t seem to escape being scrutinized through a racial lens. She can earn a billion more dollars, but she will always be defined in the context in which she lives and exists—which is not as much of a post-racial America as it is the “New Jim Crow.” She will always be understood in the context of her black female body.

Some have even gone to say that Beyoncé breaking from her previous demeanor so suddenly is so shock inducing that it might just be a master marketing ploy. That there was never any trouble in her marriage. Again, her emotions are pinned as inauthentic. But for the fans who believe her hurt and brokenness (regardless of whether or not Jay-Z actually cheated) and for those who, at the least, appreciate “Lemonade” as a standalone piece of work, the disbelief comes from Beyoncé’s willingness to embrace “all too real” emotions and narratives—ones that have been tossed under the rug. Beyoncé seems to embrace the Angry Black Woman narrative not only because she is angry, but because she thinks she and other black women have real reasons to be angry.

What I took from “Lemonade,” is that Beyoncé is a hell of a lot stronger than I thought and it’s because she embraces her vulnerabilities. We are stronger and more whole when we acknowledge the darker parts of our existences than in simply wishing them away.

headshot_browngirlmagNeerali Patel is an Indian-American, DC-based writer and poet who writes about subjects ranging from social justice in the form of consumerism to what it means to be an immigrant in this country. You can follow her on Twitter @neeconomics.

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

‘Date Night’ — A Short Story

For BGM Literary’s third short story of the year, editor Nimarta Narang is excited to share Ankita Saxena’s short story titled “Date Night.” Chronicling Anapurna’s dates with Oscar, the story delves deeper into Anapurna’s relationship, well, relationships, as we learn more about her family and her parents. Saxena, a British Indian poet and performer, has also recently launched her debut called Mother / Line


It is Saturday night. The drizzle has left Anapurna’s hair a little wet. She walks in and scans the room. The waiter at the entrance pauses before speaking, as if also unsure what she is doing here. At that moment, she remembers she has left her umbrella on the tube. Fuck. 

The booking is under Annie, she says — and the waiter pauses again, as if unsure how such a light name could belong to such a dark girl. She remembers then, that whatever happens, the clocks will change overnight. Tomorrow, daylight will squeeze into a smaller dress size, diet all the way through winter.

Follow me, he says, suddenly in a rush, grabbing two laminated menus from his podium. He reminds Annie of the black cat that crossed her path earlier — its back slightly arched. She did not know then, or now, whether to feel scared or lucky.

He places the menus on a round table for two in the back of the restaurant. 

Oscar arrives like a train, leaving only a breath of silence before opening with the customary: Hi, sorry I’m late. It is nice to finally meet you. By the time he arrives, Annie has already read through the menu in Italian and English. She is deciding between the prawn and the spaghetti, but of course — it is never down to the best option.

In the next moment, she is standing, smiling, extending her right hand, and then her left arm, for a sideways embrace. He smells like cologne, of course, and as their cheeks bristle, he feels like rain. 

So, how has your week been? She starts, adding Did the curry turn out well last night? A mark of familiarity, a gesture that this is something more than small talk. Yeah, it was suitably spicy. My flatmates were very impressed. He pauses, and takes a sip of the tap water that has by now appeared on his left-hand side. I like your look, a polite way of expressing surprise at her low-cut body, blazer and culottes.

Annie orders the prawn in the end. Better conversation starter. 

They talk of holidays to Spanish seaside resorts, getting piss drunk and spilling onto the streets from one bar to the next, with the same light thrum of English pop songs playing in each. They talk of his work trips to Belgium and Buenos Aires, the time he was nearly mugged in Lagos after taking one too many unknown pills from strangers. These are extravagances Annie has never known.  

Would you take a random pill from a stranger? he asks, and she thinks of her mother, which she hoped would not happen this early in the conversation. Her mother, who gets ‘drunk’ from half a glass of wine, her austere façade crumbling to a giggling mess. Her mother, asks time and time again what people mean by kissing strangers on the lips in nightclubs: how do they trust them like that?

No, she says, I like being in control. 

Oscar shifts his weight forward on his chair and lays down his cutlery like a declaration. They have had a glass of wine each by this point, and something about her caution makes him bold.

So, what’s your story?

My story? – the last prawn hung on a fork like a question mark.

[Read Related: ‘The Eid Party’ – A Short Story]

Annie does not know which version to tell. Oscar is both familiar and from a different world. In one breath, he talks about his immigrant grandmother; in another, of Yacht Week with his university friends and the time he trashed his parents’ house when they were ‘away’ for the weekend. 

Annie cannot imagine trashing her parents’ house. At the age of 11, when she got into her first-choice secondary school, she realised how easy it was to please them. She got good grades, did not cause any chaos, and in return, they left her alone. All her friends would envy her for her harmonious relationship with her family. But it was not difficult with a little pragmatism. She was never too deliberate about being ‘good’ — she just had no desire to be ‘bad’. In return, she had her own set of keys from the age of 14 and returned home often well after they went to bed. 

More than this, Annie cannot imagine her parents being ‘away,’ that too, with just each other for company. Their marriage, and everything that came with it — discussion over discounted items in the supermarket, loud Saturday morning calls to old relatives, their hands joined in monthly prayer — always seemed more ritualistic than love. On family drives, Annie would sit in the back seat with headphones plugged in, watching for signs of love. Maybe a casual hand on a thigh? A sideways look in the mirror. A laugh over an in-joke. But every time the music quietened, all she could hear was her mother cursing at her father’s driving, her father demanding directions, or, more often than not, the silence of people who have nothing more to say to each other.

One Valentine’s Day, she sent them on a dinner date to the new Chinese restaurant on their local high street. She and her brother put on a movie at home, and they returned well after the credits, faces giddy like new lovers. But the next morning, they were back to their usual selves — her father complaining about the bill, her mother complaining about the way he treated her family.

Annie and Oscar talk of hobbies then. She mentions dancing at university. He mentions winter sports and cooking. She cannot imagine anything worse than falling on ice.

She notices the restaurant has thinned behind them, all the old-fashioned wall hangings suddenly visible, like shells in low tide. Everything alright Sir? Ma’am? the waiter asks, and they request the bill, going Dutch as she has been trained to do by now.

Outside, the rain has stilled, leaving large puddles reflecting the streetlights. Annie slips inside her coat, imagining slipping into his — the baggy weight of it, the cliché. He places his hand instinctively on her lower back, laughing as the splash of a puddle makes a small smudge on his suede shoes.

As they near the station, he extends the hand to an arm again, and this time she lets her body bend in the fold of his, noticing suddenly how thin her jacket is, how little fabric and skin separate their bones. 

She does not say, I do not know how to be more intimate than this. Instead, she rubs her palms against his spine, and then draws back quickly taking her and her shadow into the darkness. 


What’s your story? The question plays back in her head. They have come to see an exhibition. It is precisely six days and 15 hours after their first meeting. They walk side by side, Oscar slightly behind, Annie’s shoulder occasionally and intentionally pressing into his chest. 

They glide through the gallery like a pair of ducks. She has never observed still objects so close to someone else. She is fascinated by how long he looks at the sculpture, and how he takes her around them like a waltz. She notices how well-dressed he is for the gallery in his light blue chinos and black coat. She notices, once again, his cologne.

She had come to this gallery last with Zeina and Chrissie — Zeina in a rush to get out the door and get some food, Chrissie taking pictures of every painting to send to her boyfriend. Annie always felt peaceful around her friends — each of their habits etched into her like a chant from childhood. Zeina started adding flat peaches to their shopping list in the second year. By the time they graduated, the kitchen cupboard was stocked with Molasses, Sumac, heaps of chickpeas. Annie imagined growing up with Zeina and her sisters, and when Zeina facetimed her mother in the middle of their flat dinners, Annie almost felt she had.

And Chrissie — who stuck to Annie from the first day of uni, later introducing her to all her theatre friends, saying: this girl is an angel. Once, before a black-tie ball, she had shown Annie how to read her eyes: your eyes are long, not wide, so you should draw your liner thick on the lid rather than with wings. That night, she felt like Beyoncé. When Annie was shaking uncontrollably the morning she was expecting her university results, they both gathered around her. She nearly asked them to open the email — don’t be dramatic, Zeina said, Chrissie on the other side smoothing out Annie’s hair out like a bed.

What do you think of this one? Oscar asks, looking at an abstract piece. She cocks her head, It looks like a city. 

Really? To me, it looks like the peaks of mountains. 

Annie remembers stories of the college ski trip — the hot tub with the whole milky way in view, the excessive drinking, reckless life-changing accidents. What would she do with a world like Oscar’s? What new perspective could he offer? 

Oscar takes that moment to put his hand around her shoulder — her skin tingles unexpectedly under the layers. 

Or a face, maybe. See, that jagged streak of red could be a smile.

She relaxes. He starts pointing out the chin and the eyebrows. They laugh. It is a chaotic old woman, they decide. It is always easy to find faces in abstracts. 

Later, they go for a walk by the river. He asks her about her job. She says all the buzzwords. Product manager. Start-up. Incubator. He asks her what she loves about her job. 

She remembers getting the offer in April of her third year. She was at home, in her bedroom. She had been juggling applications and interviews with finals preparations for three months. The phone call comes as a shock. She is expecting an email. She starts screaming at the top of her voice. Guys! Guys, I got the offer!

What? What? Her mother, always the first to listen, appearing from nowhere in a sudden gust of elation, jumping with her until their feet are sore. Her brother bolting up the stairs: What? How much are they paying you? Her father pausing the football downstairs, What? What? 

Later that evening, the family meal — spicy chicken, a rare bottle of wine. Her heart is full. Her parents laughing across the table. This is better than any grade she has received.

I like the stimulation. She says. How each day is a new challenge. 

[Read Related: ‘About the Author’ – A Short Story]


Do you want to grab a drink?

Annie has learnt the art of sculling through bar queues — how you must pick a corner edge and gradually navigate inwards diagonally, shoulders guiding you through like oars. 

I’ll get this round. 

You sure? 

You paid for the gallery tickets. Only fair.

Once a group of bulky, beer-breathed men appeared behind her, laughing loudly over her head. Excuse me, two G+Ts please, she yelled over their grunts. You alright, love? one of them slurred into her hair, his T-shirt exposing muscles like hedges lining his arms. We’ll get her those, he said, one bulbous hand on her waist, another extending his card to the slobbery bar top. She let him pay. Grabbed both G+Ts shiny on the counters, drained half of one by the time reached Chrissie, pristine at the back of the queue. Some old creeps in this bar. Let’s go find your boyfriend.

When he drove her to university the first time, her father switched off the radio halfway through the journey. You know, Beta — you must be careful in the nightclubs. Men can be mad. Don’t drink, shink there. They can put things in them. 

I know Papa. Relax.

Just be careful.

Months after, she found Zeina at the corner of a club, pulled her up by the elbows, hair matted with sweat, eyes dilated. Annie — what is happening to me? Nee, am I drunk? Anapurna — don’t tell my mother about this. Zeina, who had never had a sip of alcohol. Never intentionally. 


She orders two Espresso Martinis — Oscar had posed with some in his dating profile, and it’s time she made an effort. 

When she returns, he is on his phone, smiling.

Sorry, those were my friends. They’re getting wasted tonight.
A party?
Yeah. Rob’s flatmate’s 25th.
You should go!
No, no. I’m here now.
We could go together.
Really? You’d be up for that?


The Uber drops them off by a semi-detached house on a dark street lined with lamplights. Just before they enter, Oscar touches Annie on the waist turning her around. She is conscious of the thick layer of faux fur between them.

You sure about this? His breath leaving a cigarette trail in the November air. My friends can be intimidating. She lets her chin fall on his chest, Come on, I’m cold. 

Inside, there are fewer people than she anticipated. It is less a party, more a circle of friends passing around pringles and tin cans — lights on, the vague attempt at bunting, the bass of speakers filtering from another room.  

In the presence of friends, Oscar is louder; more sarcastic. He introduces Annie by her job description — Annie works in tech, by Southwark — the first time she realises he cares. They meet Johnny, who is doing a Ph.D. in Literature, and Elisa, who has just come back from six months abroad. Annie scans the circle, realises she is at least three foundation shades darker than the rest of them. In her fur jacket, heeled boots and red lip, she is also the best dressed.

She posts a dancing girl emoji in her WhatsApp chat with Zeina and Chrissie. Guess where I am? 

Oscar takes off his coat. I’ll be back soon, he says, slipping through an arch underneath the stairs. Annie makes small talk with Elisa — So where did you travel? They talk of backpacking in Cambodia and Vietnam, You know how it is on a budget? I need to go back there sometime, spend a few months in each place. Annie pretends to understand. Other friends float over — Michael who has beautiful long hair, and Lucy, who is a newly-qualified lawyer.

She walks over to the window — if she squints, she can make out train tracks buried beneath the room’s bright reflections. She watches the quick passage of tubes rubbing bodies for a few loud seconds, before going their separate ways. 

Behind her, Oscar comes over with two plastic cups. Punch he says, gesturing to a large bowl on the TV stand. Annie remembers the housewarming party she and Zeina threw after university, both their mothers calling them to ask about the food arrangements. Ma, it’s fine – you don’t need to feed people here, she said, still impulse-buying a few boxes of Tesco-branded samosas and tortilla chips for nachos. What kind of people will they think you are if you don’t even give them food? 

Annie’s mother would begin a cooking operation each time her friends came over for the weekend: chili chicken and noodles, pasta with an onion-fried tomato sauce, vegetables baked in cheese sauce. Get the nice stuff, not discounted, she would say, pushing her daughter to make a last-minute trip to the supermarket, returning to a dry-cleaned house, each unnecessary item hidden like lightbulbs inside drawers.

Zeina was the only friend who was not considered a guest. In the absence of any relatives outside the Middle East other than an uncle in Canada, she adopted Annie’s as her own. She would arrive on Friday evenings and eat what the family ate, not leaving until Sunday morning, when she needed to get back to study for her Monday morning seminar.

They would stay up until two or three in the morning, lying on Annie’s beige carpet, drawing pictures and coded messages with colouring pencils in the cork underside of her desk. These are for our eyes only — Annie would say — write whatever you want, no one will see them. 

Once, Annie’s parents were fighting downstairs, the odd word occasionally slipping into focus like letters in the last row of an opticians’ screen.

You have no bloody right to –
Why do you always have to bring my mother into –
I don’t care if the kids are –
Oh, so I’m – am I? 

Zeina got up early the next morning as if nothing has happened. You know me, Annie, I can sleep through anything, between toothpaste gargles. 


What you looking at? Oscar asks, following Annie’s eye-line. She is reminded of the art gallery — how they learnt to observe minutiae side by side, read the other person’s gaze. She wonders at what point her parents forgot to do this.

Annie tells him about Zeina and Chrissie, about her family — how her mother was the one who pushed her to start dating at the age of 24. You have to live your life Anapurna. You cannot use me as an excuse for everything. 

She talks and talks until the drinks evaporate, and she reaches for him with the abandon of prayer, nerves racing to her toes, chest aching, neck pulsing. 


What’s your story? Oscar had asked barely half an hour into their first conversation. And what could she say? 

Liberal Londoner in trendy tech job OR
Second-generation immigrant with traditional family values

As they walk in the bright sunlight, three weeks after their first date, Oscar squeezes Annie’s right earlobe in his index and thumb.  

Are you always this cautious? 

The park’s molten brown foliage shimmers in a large, grey lake, where a dog has plunged into the cold water, creating ripples that land within metres of their feet. 

Only when I am worried I might slip.

The hours after she hears of her parents’ separation, Annie does not tell anyone. Annie, come look at this. The girls are watching Zeina’s cousin’s wedding videos. How unfair is this? She curls up with them, comforted by the lack of questioning. They remind her of her father — always there to pick her up, never bothered about the details.

Chrissie is trying to explain the situation to the co-director of her play. He gaslighted me. Are you even listening? 

That evening, her mother calls her, cool and blabbering. It’s only been a couple of months. We didn’t want to tell anyone until it was official. We didn’t want to distract you. The words months and official repeating in her head for weeks to come. She remembers the night she got her job offer — how could her mother have laughed like that on the verge of separation? How could she have lied for so long?

When Zeina finally finds out, she moves into Annie’s bed. Don’t worry. I won’t let you down. Later, Annie slips away to the sofa and lies there all night, ghost-like in the green of her WhatsApp screen, trying to memorise the timelines, her thighs rubbing against each other, sweaty in the August heat.

She does not answer her mother’s calls for another two months, until the day before she starts her job, and her mother, as usual, makes up for it: I have so much faith in you, Anapurna. You have nothing to worry about. Call me in your lunch break. Or whenever. I love you.


What’s your story? Oscar will ask again. And what will she say now, three weeks into knowing him? And what will she say to all those who ask after him?

Afraid of ending up like her parents OR
Afraid of not ending up like them.

Experienced in heartbreak, in friendship OR
Hugely inexperienced in intimacy, in love.

In the winter sun, the birds are creating raucous in the trees. The dog is shaking off lake water, more alive for having taken the dive. 

Where should I begin?   

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By Ankita Saxena

Ankita Saxena is a British-Indian writer and performer. Her debut poetry collection Mother | Line, releases in April 2023 with … Read more ›

Keeping our Friendships Strong as we Get Older

I organize play dates for my children. They’re friendships remind me of when I was younger when Fridays were consistently set aside for my friends. Now, it seems play is indeed meant for childhood and work is for aging adults. We often can’t find time for ourselves, let alone our friends, who are busy working mothers like ourselves. Or we moved into unreachable corners of this globe, far away from any means of physical communication. It’s fair to say, it’s hard to stay close to friends like when we were in college. Nowadays, it’s easier to travel, but more difficult to bond with others. “My Friend” asserts that we should not end let our friendships fall by the wayside. Even with physical distance and conflicting schedules, we keep our friendships close with kind words on phone calls, regular FaceTime calls, or even encouraging social media comments. Friendship doesn’t end once we become adults.

[Read Related: Connecting my Stories With Those of my mom and Grandma]

My Friend

The turbulent sea of a ticking clock,
A constant chime of chores
Unfolded laundry, unpaid bills.
For unplanned surprises, Life’s infinite stores

An achy neck, a heavy head,
A forever strong of burdens
Fleeting as they may be
Yet as real as my scribbling pens

In this world of lonely battles
Filled with competing souls
It’s you, my friend
Your comforting words, long strolls

Your phone calls, your laughter,
You listening when I’m remiss,
Your steady support,
The source of all my bliss.

[Read Related: 4 Brown Girls Who Write-U.K. Asian Sisterhood Changing the Dynamics of Poetry]

The opinions expressed by the guest writer/blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brown Girl Magazine, Inc., or any employee thereof. Brown Girl Magazine is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the guest writer/bloggers. This work is the opinion of the blogger. It is not the intention of Brown Girl Magazine to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please follow the guidelines we’ve set forth here.
By Mars D. Gill

Mars D. Gill is the author of "House of Milk and Cheese" and "Letters from the Queen". She writes mainstream … Read more ›

The Futility of Trying to be ‘That Girl’

Social media has stretched a number of news headlines:

“Social media rots kids’ brains.”

“Social media is polarizing.”

Yet those most affected by social media ideals are the teenage users. Apps like Instagram and TikTok perpetuate an image of perfection that is captured in pictures and 30-second videos. As a result, many young women chase this expectation endlessly. “Her” personifies this perfection in an unattainable figure the narrator has always wished to be. These ideals deteriorate mental health, create body dysmorphia, promote a lack of self-esteem, and much more. Even so, social media is plagued by filters and editing—much of what we hope to achieve isn’t even real. Therefore, young women, much like the narrator of “Her,” strive for a reality that doesn’t even exist.

[Read Related: The Emotional Roller Coaster of Getting Your Legs Waxed for the First Time]


When she walked into my life
Her smile took up two pages of description
In a YA novel.
My arms could wrap around her waist twice
If she ever let anyone get that close
Her hair whipped winds with effortless beach waves
And a hint of natural coconut
Clothing brands were created around her
“One Size Fits All” one size to fit the girl who has it all
With comments swarning in hourglasses
But when sharp teeth nip at her collar,
She could bite back biting back
And simply smirked with juicy apple lips
Red hearts and sympathy masking condescension
“My body doesn’t take away from the beauty of yours”
“We are all equal, we are all beautiful”
A sword she wields expertly
Snipping, changing,
Aphrodite in consistent perfection
Cutting remarks with sickly sweet syrup
And an innocent, lethal wink
When she walked into my life
She led my life.
My wardrobe winter trees
Barren, chopped in half
Unsuited for the holidays
Mirrors were refracted under in my gaze
Misaligned glass was the only explanation
For unsymmetrical features
And broken hands
Still I taped them fixed
Over and over
Poking, prodding
Hoping to mold stomach fat like wet clay
Defy gravity,
Move it upward
To chest
Instead of sagging beneath a belt on the last hole
In the spring
She would stir me awake at 2 AM
“You need to be me”
Lies spilled from her tongue but
Solidified, crystallized
Fabrication spelled dichotomy
And I drifted farther out to sea
When she walked out of my life,
I was drowning.
Reliance had me capsized
Others witnessed
Furrowed brows and glances away
Like spectators of a shark attack
They can watch but the damage is done
They clung to my mangled pieces
Gravestones spelled
But I was mourning too
Today I looked back at my mirror
But glass turned into prism
Broken pieces rainbow
Colors coating clothes
She didn’t pick
Perception changing
She wasn’t perfect
Just lost at sea

[Read Related: Finding Freedom from Gender Roles Through Poetry]

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By Kashvi Ramani

Kashvi Ramani is a writer, actress, songwriter, and singer from Northern Virginia. She has been writing songs, poetry, scripts, and … Read more ›