How many times do you snap photos of yourself before you post them on your social media feed? How many filters do you use? I bet you even have a favorite filter that makes you feel confident. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, I believe that it is fair to assume that we all get a little anxious before we post photos on the internet for the world to see.
Recently, the best athlete on the planet, thee Serena Williams posted some new images on her Instagram. As per usual, she got people talking about her latest pics.
In her pictures which she eventually deleted, she’s pictured sitting down wearing a black sweater dress with red heels. While the picture isn’t terrible it’s wasn’t fans’ favorite either. However, it sparked enough conversation around the athlete’s styling choices. And of course, when it comes to Serena Williams, the conversation goes left pretty quickly.
Up until recently, Serena Williams slander was pretty typical and rampant on social media —especially Black Twitter. In fact, some of the most popular Black Twitter users used to regularly make fun of Serena Williams as a way to grow their followers.
First, why are so many cis men sharing this particular photo and weighing in on how she looks? Now, we’ve seen many people especially those who are part of Black Twitter— grow their followers by misgendering Serena Williams. We also are aware of how many years Black people have made the Williams sisters the punchline for their ugly jokes. While we can discuss the choice of styling Serena went with for this particular look, it seems to me that pe, especially men are enjoying the opportunity to joke about her looks without getting pushback from social media. Besides, who is going to call out misogynoir when everyone else is doing it, right?
Insert eye roll.
Whether you believe this photo is Serena’s best or worse photo isn’t the point. The point is why are so many people, especially men always so eager to drag Serena. A lot of times, I feel Serena Williams is a trigger for some folks. I don’t know what she’s done, but she’s under an unhealthy microscope of criticism by Black people and it’s concerning.
I’d be dishonest to say that colorism doesn’t play a part in the vitriol Williams gets online. She’s one of the few dark skin superstars on the planet.
Women are conditioned that every photo they take must be their best. Hair has to be perfect, makeup has to be beat, and you have to be in the perfect pose to show off your good side. And on top of that, once we post our best photo, we immediately expect a lot of likes praising our beauty. Yes, it’s a superficial, instant gratification form of validation from strangers but in a world full of influencers and viral content, it can also be lucrative.
So what Serena’s photos didn’t live up to your expectations? Hell, they might not have lived up to hers either. But the fact remains, why do so many folks take pleasure in ridiculing Serena?
But you make fun of the Kardashians all the time…
I sure do, unapologetically too. The difference is—the Kardashian and Jenners are anti-Black, culture vultures. Serena hasn’t said or done anything to my knowledge that has been problematic. So the hate she receives online, especially within the Black community is odd to me. Why can’t Serena just exist without people waiting to dogpile on her?
We all have off-days. We are not perfect. Even beautiful people are human. The need and expectation to be flawless all the time is a particular desirability politic I’m not interested in feeding into. It feels sexist and anti-black to me.