Taking The Pink Pill — The Virtual Politics of the Black Femininity Movement
First, I want to preface this piece with the fact that when this title popped into my head, I was sitting on the bus, staring out of the window, and contemplating the meaning of life (as per usual). The title was quite clever, if I say so myself. A play on my love of The Matrix and a reference to the “Red Pill” subcultures found within online communities like Reddit. However, once I moved from my inner monologue about this topic to doing the actual research, I was shocked that there was already a community of Black women called “The Pink Pill” which reflects the exact sociocultural phenomenon that I will be discussing in this essay.
You see, as a scholar of the ways in which people perform identity on the internet, I have a vested interest in the content niches and communities which pop-up online. Like pesky ads that follow you from one site to another, my latest annoyance has been the popularity and spread of rhetoric which reinforces gender norms and essentialism under the guise of self-help, improvement, and/or empowerment. No matter what social media platform that I find myself on, from Instagram to YouTube and TikTok, there are influencers and creators who have constructed an entire platform around performing a very specific form of femininity, and teaching other women how to do the same (usually for a price).
From the lifestyles of luxury Black girls to mental health Tik-Tok, I have been gathering evidence on the many ways that embracing Black femininity to live your best life has become the new hot trend. And while this cult of femininity is not relegated to Black women, my own research and the realities of how gender norms are constructed in society makes this particular community even more interesting to me. So, in honor of bell hooks, let’s take a Black Feminist approach to understanding why there are so many Black women engaging in the performance of traditional, or even politically conservative, representations of femininity within the public sphere.