“Feeling Myself” Performances #1

I’m in the early stages of developing Feeling Myself: an exercise in unapologetic vanity and conceit, a public performance piece that centers on Black girls and women being unapologetically proud of their appearance and achievements in a public way and having people who aren’t Black women assist us in these moments rather than humble/shame/discredit/demonize/vilify/silence us. See: Sha’Carri Richardson, Serena & Venus, Angel Reese, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Black girls posting their prom dresses online, the table of “unfriendly Black hotties” in “Mean Girls,” and (if you’re a Black woman) most likely YOU, too… 

We hit up the outdoor dining area at the Silverlake Erewhon, Leimert Park Village, and the Culver (City) Steps, kicking things off real scrappy with just a bluetooth speaker and an extra large hand mirror, which I experimented with in different ways: admiring and beautifying myself (either solo or with someone’s assistance) and having other Black women admire and affirm themselves. 

My friends photographed and filmed the process. We took video, too, but that wasn’t as dynamic so I’ll share those down the line when there’s more to edit (we’re figuring out how to best photograph/film these sessions as we go, too! I appreciate y’all for rolling with it, especially those not as comfortable behind the camera <3) We experimented with capturing everything discreetly, then asking for permission with consent forms afterwards, and also asking beforehand. Everyone consented.

I quickly realized that similar to my writing and journalism work, I preferred performing for/with Black women audiences in a predominantly Black and pro-Black space (Leimert Park Village is a very small downtown area populated by mostly, if not all, Black-owned businesses and cultural spaces and people who are always welcoming and friendly to fellow Black faces, new or old (at least that’s been my experience in Leimert Park Village). 

But, I also had an interesting reception at Culver Steps, which had a much more diverse (in many aspects) population than the other two locations and also a free, public stage/seating arrangement (!!!) thanks to the steps. Plus, unlike Erewhon, no one asked me to turn off the music I played from my speaker (“Conceited” by Remy Ma AND Flo Milli, ofc, among others. Here’s the playlist. Also, I get why Erewhon asked me to turn off the music, and they did so very kindly and respectfully, waiting until I was done applying my lipstick which coincided with the end of the song!)

For the next iteration, I would like to:

  • Use wireless, hands-free mics!!! For myself and the participants. Capturing audio is crucial at every stage of this piece.
  • Adorn my hand mirror…I don’t love how on-the-nose mirrors are in this piece, but I also do?
  • Bring portable full length mirrors because using the hand mirror alone felt restrictive.
  • Create and bring affirmation cards for participants to read to themselves, myself included.
  • Bring empty index cards for the participants to write their own affirmations, read aloud, and leave with me.
  • Consider calling the space a “Gas Station,” for Black women to get gassed up (iykyk) aka refuel their self-confidence.
  • Having my laptop and/or a medium sized display screen (somehow?) play a compilation video of Black women talking their shit (ie. Sha’Carri saying “I’m THAT girl” when she became the fastest woman in the world, 14yo Venus speaking confidently about an upcoming match in that famous interview, Black TikTok prom-goers gassing themselves up, etc.) Would be nice to have over-the-ear headphones, too.
  • Somehow film from the perspective of the mirrors, ie. attaching camera phones to the full length mirrors and a gopro to the handheld?!  (I do not have a gopro though…)
  • Feel free to add suggestions, notes, etc!

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