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Blackness and Luxury

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Leeds chapter.

Everything in life seems fickle, from the seasons to our appearances, nothing tangible ever seems to remain constant. Feeling present in everyday life is something requiring intentionality, becoming harder and harder to make the prime focus of our day. The discussion on ‘luxury’ and what a ‘person in luxury’ looks like is something often had within the Black community, with people often succumbing to the façade of an extravagant lifestyle. While everyone has their goals and aspirations in whatever form they manifest, how is it that we all seem to be striving for the same thing in the name of ‘luxury’? The question then is whether people are actually living for themselves, or to meet societal and/or relational expectations.

Growing in a Black household may often mean dismissing your own wants under the ideology that ‘elders know best’- which I’m not saying should always be disputed, as with age can come more experience and wisdom, sure. However, elders often have outdated cultural perspectives and are sometimes stuck in the mindset of trying to free themselves from financial instability; being first-generation immigrants brings an acquisition of many struggles that they want us to avoid. Though what happens when we find ourselves forced to juggle between trying to please others and simultaneously trying to pave our own path? While it’s feasible to want to learn from the mistakes of others to make informed decisions, I’m sure many of us have had the thought: ‘There comes a point where I want- and perhaps need– to make my own errors’. You simply cannot remain a passive member in your own body forever. 

Many of us may not have been taught to intentionally take time out for ourselves, but instead we are met with the expectation both emotionally, within the private sphere and physically, within the public sector to remain strong. Although institutional racism is accountable for this, this sentiment is commonly evidenced within the healthcare system, with Black women being given less provision and support due to the false pretence that we’re just ‘stronger’, invincible almost. While many things that we face breeds strength and resilience, it ultimately becomes a tiring and painful front to uphold – we deserve to be met with the grace and patience that comes along with weakness too. Then comes the idea of validation, where we are constantly discouraged from validating our emotions, our differences, and our niches. It’s a constant cycle of comparisons to whatever is deemed to be the ‘norm’ by our family and society. This has reached a point where there appears to be ways in which a Black person should act, but why is my personality, my likes, my wants, and my dislikes already prescribed by others?

The life-value that the material elements of luxury can bring needs to be de-emphasised. In a world that doesn’t accommodate for our weaknesses, where we’re constantly being expected to be strong, I feel like we should take time for ourselves and also place sincere value in self-care, as opposed to always striving for the next thing. On an everyday basis luxury can be found within the little things, like taking the time out to do something that genuinely makes you feel calm- whether it’s reading, cooking, or watching a show. However, a problem is that many of us tend to enter relaxation mode by force; ultimately leaving us burnt out and being unproductive since we lack the rest we need. 

If you’re genuinely intentional about the way you act, what you consume, the people you keep around you, and the positive space and time you create for yourself, that can create a form of luxury in your life that is invaluable.

While I won’t refuse a Dior bag from anyone any time soon, luxury can be found in intentionality.

Written by: Michele Ngue-Awane

Edited by: Harsheni Maniarasan

Hi! I'm a third year Law student at the University of Leeds and currently the president for our chapter! I'm also a lover of anything music, food, and fashion related :)