Monday Notes: BOTH/AND

I’ve been living in a space of both/and since 2020. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been living in this space for a while, but I decided to be more blatant about the message December 2020.

I started with a photoshoot.

When I planned to take photos, I knew I wanted to wear something a little edgy to represent my personality. A friend and I saw these faux leather leggings at a Jacksonville boutique.

“These are perfect!” she screamed.

“I don’t know,” I said. “What about my belly?”

You see, ever since I gave birth via C-section in 2001, I’ve been leery about showing my midsection. For some reason, the obstetrician didn’t have the good sense to sew my lower abdomen back how he found it. No amount of Crossfit or crunches can mend it.

“If I had your belly, I’d buy five of these,” friend said.

Perspective. It didn’t matter. I can be both sexy and show my fupa…in public.

The next thing I wanted to convey was professionalism on my terms. The last time I took photos, I was entering my writing persona. I wanted to convey confidence and a personal identity. You see, my mother’s side of the family retells a story about how decades ago, one could tell women who were ladies of the evening by the color shoes they wore—red. The problem in my mind was that I’ve always been fond of red. But who wants to be associated with prostitution? In 2016, I decided a white suit, red blouse, and red heels were symbolic. I could be both educated and stylish…in red shoes.

This time around, I was truly exhausted by all of the rules we put on ourselves and others. I mean, you don’t have to wear a business suit to mean business. Do you? A black, denim jacket with puffy sleeves seemed ideal. I could be both business minded and unconventional.

Finally, I wanted to convey my love for reading and writing. I also wanted to show that you don’t have to look a certain way to be a reader or a writer. I know this is common sense, but for some reason, it seems society views readers and writers in a stereotyped way. Maybe it’s because in reality only 5% of traditional publishing includes Black people, or maybe it’s because of media portrayals. I mean can you name three characters in a series or movie who are depicted as loving reading or writing who are not white?

Apologies for that major digression. My point is I wanted to be photographed among the stacks (of a bookstore) on purpose. I know librarians and people who work at bookstores have been stereotyped as having top buns and looking over readers, but again, I wanted to shatter that myth—for myself. I don’t have to fit a mold to be an avid reader or a successful writer. I just have to love books and write.

So, yeah. Both/And.

I can be both sexy and a certain age with childbirth scars.

I can be both professional and wear a puffy, black denim jacket.

I can be both an avid reader and writer and be my regular Black self, two-and-a-half-inch patent leather heels and all.

What are your both/ands? And if you have a few movies or television shows that depict Black characters who love to read or write, drop them in the comments, so we can all be more aware 😉

101 thoughts on “Monday Notes: BOTH/AND

  1. Absolutely enriching to read your posts today!!! I think I too am Both/And person in all possible ways – i can’t see anything as rigidly as either/or. There is always a place and time for a certain way of being. I can be very traditional in my views and not completely caged in them to allow the freedom of my spirit to express in varied ways.

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  2. A jacket with puffed sleeves? Weird. I thought puffed sleeves were something only on vintage ball room gowns. Where do you get a jacket like that?!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. A boutique?! Ah, darn. I’m considered financially below poverty level. Guess i’ll have to go scrounge around in the recycling bin for materials to make my own.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I always love THE STORY behind THE STORY.

    I have been studying with Robert Ohotto since the summer, doing one of his masterclasses and he highlights how much shame is the undercurrent of division — within ourselves and how we’re represented. Which inevitably leads to judgement of others. Unconsciously more than anything else.

    Thank you for taking your readers on your BOTH/AND journey with you Dr. G! Your revelations hit home BIG TIME.

    Sending love your way as you hit the midpoint in the START of the fall semester. We can be BOTH teachers AND students equally. For that I am eternally grateful. 📖 ♥️ p.s. Your photo shoot is off the charts incredible.

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    1. We learn it from others, then we do it to ourselves, right? I’m glad this resonated. I know you, of all people, know that we have to liberate ourselves from societal teachings as much as humanly possible 😉

      Thanks for that compliment Dr. D ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, so. many things I want to respond to…First, now, I want to do a photo shoot in the stacks. Second, I can write a blog post on my both/ands. Third, I love this post. Fourth, hmmm…black characters who loved books. Let me go put my thinking cap on.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Crickets. Literally. Crickets. But I’m tired. As for the photos, I will do it. I will do it. There is a PHENOMENAL photographer here who does the works, works with others to do hair, makeup, style. I’m saving my pennies for her. I do need to get some headshots done sooner, so I’ve been practicing with my phone. I might do them myself–with my real camera, of course. Or have my hubby do them.

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  5. 😅Being completely honest I switched to my phone (so I could expand) and get a better 😉view! With greatest respect to your hubby, you look fabulous, forget the stitches lyour child bearing hips are err, very inviting!

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    1. I would expect you to be nothing less than “completely honest” Andrew lol And thank you for toning down this message so it’s appropriate for my blog 😉

      And, of course, thanks for the compliment ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep 🙂 completely honest Kathrin, I know I take liberties on WordPress, but I’ve a good heart and lol tailor the comment to the personality that shines through her writing…….. and after 4 years here I don’t think I’ve gone to far, and I’ve even met a female sex blogger in person!…….adoring the more mature ladies. ❤

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      2. YES exactly the same person shining through her Blog, surprised us both how comfortable we felt, then again after months of intimate commenting lol perhaps that’s not so surprising. Two complete strangers yet knowing secrets never shared with another soul, and we never stopped chatting all afternoon……..we even held hands kissed and hugged on the train platform, and that’s the power of the written word Kathryn. (No sex, we’re just pen friends only)

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  6. Such a lovely read! I especially like what you wrote “I don’t have to fit a mold” I also remember the red shoes labelling, lol! And I have to laugh as I love my red Hunter boots. Your post do remind how I have come to do things that I’m comfortable with. For me, I feel I become more comfortable with myself as I got older and maybe also want to add wiser ☺️ yes for sure, both/and, love this ❤️

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  7. Love that you refuse to be put in a box. I think our dichotomies make us more interesting, as do defining what is what to ourselves and the world. My biggest AND is that I am a gregarious hermit. Most people are confused by the big personality I present sometimes and the almost ghost-like personality that shows up (or not) at other times, but they both feel genuine and it all makes sense to me. P.S. I think reading is one of the sexiest things out there, so your outfit seemed fitting to me and you looked GREAT.

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  8. You look AMAZING in those photo’s! Your friend was right for letting you buy those leggings.

    The only Black character who loves to read that I can come up with, was Billy from the Power Rangers (the horrible remake of the TV series that I held so dearly). He played “the nerd” so I’m guessing he liked to read and such – however I must add I’ve blocked as much from that movie from my mind as possible.

    My Both/And is I can be BOTH a blonde woman AND be smart (I totally am, thank you!), I can both love animals and not be a vegetarian (although I am officially a flexitarian – just to add to the labels we don’t want to use any more -_-). And I can both drive really well and be a little less great at parking my car :’)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Samantha ❤

      Billy from the PR is a good one, but there's still that stereotyped nerd thing, right?

      I can't believe you're blonde AND smart lol Isn't it crazy how we make up these ridiculous rules about people and their image??? You know I love the vegetarian one 😉


  9. Thank you for sharing a your thoughts and lovely photos!!.. us homo sapiens are a complicated lot and the sad part is most folks will hide parts of themselves for fear of ridicule, etc or wish to fit in with a crowd, while not being themselves… afraid of being different… 🙂

    As for me there is no and/or for I am all of the above, a spirit born free… 🙂

    As I venture through my life
    With each step, all the while being me,
    An open mind, a heart of dreams
    A spirit, enjoying being free.

    A spirit that views another
    As another feels, wishes to be,
    In a realm of acceptance
    So another can enjoy being free.

    Free…. to love another
    No color, gender or race,
    Only to know and feel happiness
    No social walls to face.

    Free to live life as one chooses
    Follow a dream, the heart would say,
    Free to walk ones own path of life
    Filled with adventures along the way.

    There are those who would color me different
    Many to gaze upon me with dismay,
    But unlike them, I’ve found happiness
    Because I chose to live life my way.
    (Larry “Dutch” Woller)

    Until we meet again..
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

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  10. Kathy, a great post that shows there are no contradictions just unity! I love the photos and ideas within your post – as for your scar be proud! You have an amazing child as a result! I was born as an emergency and my mother has a long scar (one of many) and yet she always loved to wear a bikini on the beach! A few personal examples …I’m both a vegetarian and enjoy the occasional pancetta in my pasta, I enjoy both relaxing in my tracksuit and faded T-shirt inside and dressing up for a business meeting, I’m both a mother and the child within me is still there! x

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  11. Fabulous photos!! As for mine the ones that pop to mind are: I can be an introvert and still crave the company of other people; I can love dogs and still realize that not all the dogs in the shelter are adoptable, and I can appreciate my parents but still be aware of some of the damage they caused.

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  12. You are all of that and more. It’s weird how a simple color will cause criticism. Hmmm. Anyway, a movie where a black character loves to read or write? That’s easy! I love sci/fi and fantasy, so the first thing that popped into my mind is “The Book of Eli”. He gets to write the greatest book ever written.

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  13. I really love the outfit ! And red shoes with faux leather leggings sounds awesome ! I say wear what you want . I had someone tell me a long time ago the way I trim the ends of my hair in a V pattern was also like a prostitute or stripper lol ! Some people have some archaic looks on fashion 😂.

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  14. So many. engineer/woman, engineer/writer, nerdy/playful, serious/jokester, introvert/social, single/happy, single/parent, black/*insert any number of spaces where I surprise people (white people) with my presence*, leo sun/cancer moon/pisces rising 😂

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  15. Love this post, goddess! Damn it’s unfortunate I can’t think of any examples, that’s terrible! I’m so glad you’re bringing this into the light. I think of Clair Huxtable as a lawyer, but not sure that’s reading/writing specific. I will think more on this. Also, you look amazing! I love the photos and think you should share them with pride, yes!! xo

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  16. Hi K. Love the portrait of you in the bookstacks!!!!! About c-sections, this summer I read a feature in the New York Times magazine about one woman’s experience with c section and it left me really frustrated, sort of angry, even I didn’t realize quite fully the extent of baggage for some, many around the procedure, both for but especially against. My wife had the procedure twice. Honestly, I don’t think she’s ever looked back. She’s a pretty strong, opinionated ass-kicker but still I was so afraid of her seeing that angsty essay and having it get up in her head that I tossed it when I was done. sorry, none of that is exactly relevant to your essay. just on the topic of c sections, I guess! I’m a weak reader, K. As far as midsectional issues, I dunno. She looks all good to me, sexiness plus scars and whatnot. Notwithstanding the infuriating double standards, life leaves marks on us all. So hey again, incoherently-speaking, your shots above look great.

    Good digression above, too. To be honest, the examles that I can think of, the characters are frequently sanitized for the sake of Nielsen ratings-capturing white people watching at home. Or their blackness is combined with something else, like a disability, as though the writers in Hollywood thougth to themselves “cha-ching, I’ll get two birds with one stone!”


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    1. Jason! Where have you been, my dear???

      Thank you. Thank you ❤ I appreciate the compliment. Unfortunately, I can't read the article because of a paywall, but your comments are on topic and make a lot of sense to me.


      1. Bah, sorry about the paywall! For years the NYT let a person read at least three articles for free but they must’ve stopped doing that.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. You had me in suspense there, Katherin. I didn’t understand the “Both/And” until you pulled it all together at the end. Such clever writing – you are a master!
    Here are what I came up with about my essence:

    I can be both shlubby and authentic.
    I can smile a lot, but still feel sad at times.
    I can be both a devoted mother, and love doing things for myself, too.
    I can be sociable and outgoing, yet love spending time with myself more than anything else!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww thank you.

      “smile a lot and still feel sad” YES to this. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to explain this to people lately. Just because someone is smiling doesn’t mean they’re not sad.

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  18. I love the photos! 🙂

    I agree, there are too many rules and preconceived ideas about what a person ‘should’ look, dress or sound like. I feel like authenticity has become a buzzword (especially in business leadership), but your ‘Both/And’ concept reminded me of it…you’re being authentic and true to yourself and that’s really inspiring.

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  19. What a nice concept “both / and”. Loved this piece.
    And yes, obstetrician did that to my wife also nearly thirty four years ago and she is still sensitive about it. I and our kids think she is the most beautiful person in the world.

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  20. I love the look you pulled together. The stereotypes about people who read and write say a lot about society. I don’t know why people have to be placed in certain boxes based on how they look. Your blog was very enjoyable to read.

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  21. Okay, I love this, Kathy! And your concept of “Both/And” is essential and applicable to many of us, I would venture to say. Movies: Probably a stretch on this one, but Derek Luke in Antwone Fisher, Storm Reid as Meg Murray in A Wrinkle in Time, and . . . I’m drawing a blank.

    Thank you for sharing your WHOLE self with us, always.

    Liked by 4 people

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