Updated: Oct 4, 2020
We have recently witnessed—and may have participated in—the controversial conversation over Ayesha Curry’s comments during the Red Table Talk hosted on Facebook by Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Red Table Talk was created as a public, safe, and brave space to discuss challenging, vulnerable, and taboo topics in our communities, especially surrounding relationships and identity. This platform has allowed many celebrities to tell their story and talk about their experiences in navigating challenging seasons in their life, as well as built connections through sharing stories and experiences between viewers and guests. This was sought to create a network and platform of transparency, education, and liberation for all.
Ayesha Curry and the wives of the Curry family featured on this talk, specifically discussing the challenges off the court of standing with their husband, despite the fame. During the discussion, she mentioned that she notices that she doesn't receive male attention lately, and she wondered if something is wrong with her. She mentioned that she doesn't want it, but it would be nice to know that someone is at least looking, comparable to her husband, Steph.
Social Media exploded.
Coming from a woman’s perspective, I could naturally empathize with her feelings. Yet, I was truly interested in the responses of men, as I expected a collective empathetic experience from her comments. I was quickened with shock that this Red Table Talk segment turned into a heated exchange of slander and shame, as well as the birthplace of intense disagreements.
Being an advocate and professional in wellness, I realized that her words sparked intense emotions and reactions from all identities. Personal traumas and triggers were ignited, despite being a man or woman.
In hopes of providing healing and calamity, it is necessary to highlight some of the things that Ayesha Curry revealed to us in this moment—particularly the Black community—and where we could grow from this conversation.
Transparency is not comfortably warranted. We instinctually shame it. Ayesha told her truth. HER truth. Because of her willingness to be transparent on a platform created for vulnerability and healing, she has been shamed for exposing her personal business and sharing her truth. For Ayesha Curry, a successful, secure, and thriving woman, the negative pushback may not cause her too much harm. But for those who may not feel as confident, or feel invisible, or has a struggle that they would like to find security in—they have received the message that sharing one’s truth and being their authentic self is unwarranted, worthy of shame, and unnecessary.
Often times, we shame other’s transparency because we are not comfortable within of being transparent. Therefore, our natural response to this is attacking and shaming. We must unpack why this happens and what healing it blocks us from. We must also think about what message it teaches others who have these thoughts, and the ramifications it may cause.
Conclusively, we survive in a society where transparency is a disruption, and in some instances, disrespectful. Ayesha’s comment upheld to represent all of women (without her intention), and felt disrespectful in representation to men, when in fact, she was just speaking HER truth. This leads to my next point.
Celebrities have a different expected standard than non-celebrities. Even so, celebrities are humans too. Let’s be honest—Ayesha Curry said the same thing that everyone has thought in some form. The unfortunate factors are that she is the wife of a very successful basketball player (I cringe using that language), and that she was on a public social media platform. Even though the Red Table Talk was a forum created for transparency, there is a different standard held for celebrities and what they choose to disclose. Because of her public identity, and because of her husband’s image, she will be scrutinized at a disproportionate lens.
What we don’t realize is that by criticizing such expression, we slightly idolize celebrities and insert our personal insecurities of ourselves—and others—on celebrities. We fail to realize that celebrities are similar humans, like everyone is, and we force celebrities to represent the ideology of all who look like them, instead of being their own selves like the rest of us. In other words, Ayesha spoke only for Ayesha. Not Steph, not us, not anyone else.
Our unwarranted opinions to warranted truths lead to silence and destruction within. It is quite valid to have opinions and perspectives that do not match with others. It is detrimental to share these opinions in a manner that is attacking one’s vulnerability and demeaning to a polishing insecurity.
Yet, this fuels us.
Meanwhile, these responses cause those who are struggling, and are not as willing to share as Ayesha, to continue hurting in silence. There are many who are internalizing these same insecurities, yet The Red Table Talk and Ayesha’s comments gave them hope to be liberated from their buried struggles. Because of the harsh criticism of Ayesha Curry, this has sent the message that one’s transparent insecurities are not safe in the external world, and we are not a society to support and heal—we are a society to slander and kill (metaphorically, of course). The insecurities, without light and proper exposure, sit in the dark places of our hearts to mold or decay, versus bringing them out so that they can heal and grow. Because of this consistent behavior in many of us, we have become accustomed to disconnecting from each other in shame, versus connecting in vulnerability.
Simply, it is more comfortable to react than to understand. This response expresses that one is not welcomed to share their struggles in hope to connect with someone, as the Red Table Talk conversations are used for. This lack of comfort and safety is what leads to the perpetuation of suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other severe mental health that continues to go unaddressed, yet reinforced in Black communities.
Society’s view of happiness is based on what is obtained, leaving little room to focus on cultivating the happiness from within. We assume that once someone is married, even ourselves, that insecurities will disappear. In reality, getting married, getting surgeries, wearing makeup, or other external alterations do not change the things we battle from within. Nor, do those external things affect how one heals from those insecurities. As Ayesha Curry never mentioned that this was because of Steph, she recognizes that this is something that she is working on, and even though married, she still has her own battles to fight (as does he). Because a platform has been created to express these inner battles that we all face, and because she is now aware enough to confront them, this now shows a direct attribution to her awareness and willingness to work on her struggles.
Therefore, the point is, we are socialized to believe that our personal struggles attribute to everyone involved with us, when, even when married, they do not reflect anyone but ourselves. She is satisfied with Steph as a husband, which is separate from the battles she has within herself. Having Steph does not make them better or worse, but only she can heal those. This goes for any traumas or insecurities that one may have. Nothing externally can fix it (more sex, substances, getting married, moving, etc). The issue and the resolution to the issue is only within.
Ayesha Curry was brave. This needs to be recognized and empowered, above all of the negative things. Ayesha shared her truth, and that is valid. This serves as a testament to others that your truth matters. Your truth does not represent anyone else, unless you command for it to be. It does not define your spouse, children, friends, or other close social groups. It was spoken for you and represents you. Ayesha Curry taught us that a husband does not fix internal struggles, nor fuels internal struggles. She shared this to those—men and women—who are also fighting internal battles that society says you are not allowed to fight. She spoke with those who seemingly have everything (degrees, money, fame, family) on the outside, but still progressing on the inside. She spoke to those who see her as Steph’s wife to remind them that she too, is Ayesha. Ayesha was Ayesha. She was transparent. She was valid. She was brave.
I want to share this in hopes that this experience did not rob someone from wanting to be brave. I also want to share to remind the critics that this is not our battle to speak upon, and in fact, we are perpetuating the job of the enemy. The enemy wants us to turn from each other and bring each other down, versus truly see and hear each other to lift up. I want to share this in awareness that we all have all insecurities to bare, and that they are valid. And, some may be a little braver and share them with the world to empower someone else who is not as brave, yet. We must support this, not stifle this. We must remember that what we have in our life does not define us, and allow everyone the space to be human, including you. We must think about rising past the impulse to slander and the instinct to empathize. Challenge to be more safe for others---and yourself.
I want to share this for a chance of healing of all of our struggles and insecurities, and hope towards those who want to be brave. Thank you, Ayesha Curry, for demonstrating your truth and for being brave.