Many an adage can be used to paint a vivid picture of what it means to be a Black woman. 

“You have to be twice as good to get half as much” and “When they go low, we go high” are just a few aphorisms playing on repeat in the collective consciousness of Black women navigating the meandering intersection of race and gender. But there is one saying that has been especially resonating with me following some recent fashion discourse online: “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

This has been on a never-ending loop in my brain after reading numerous tweets shaming Black women for rocking alternative fashions and stepping out of predetermined sartorial boxes. But the rebuttals to said statements, which, admittedly, were quite snide and underhanded, highlighted just how formidable of an impasse Black femme creativity is at.

On the one hand, you have snarky remarks declaring that Black girls who don’t have perfectly sleeked or laid hairstyles (a texturism dog whistle) are lacking in communal fortitude, aka, only have white friends. This can be seen in various social media posts, including one tweet directed at The Bear’s Ayo Edebiri, stating that “Ayo is very pretty, but I need her to get some Black friends. I was always tryna figure out why she looks ‘like that.’ It’s cause her friends are white,” read the tweet.

But the clapbacks to this are equally concerning.

“Is it the lack of spider lash extensions, 613 lace fronts, and BBL fashion? Would they like her to go to Atlanta for month?” read one response, seeped in so much anti-Blackness you could mistake it for a Tim Burton casting.

If throwing the whole of Atlanta, a modern Black mecca, under the bus wasn’t clue enough, this tweet is a direct jab at the trending styles that have become digitally synonymous with certain sectors of the Black community.

Now, it would be one thing if these retaliatory quips took shots at the documented humanitarian and environmental horrors incited by the fast fashion brands that power many of these looks. Unfortunately, though, these clapbacks circumvent all substantial talking points, opting for the fast track to good old-fashioned anti-Blackness in efforts to….defend someone else’s Blackness. It’s a cognitive conundrum if we’ve ever seen one.

When we put all of this together, we’re left with this off-key, interwoven melody of anti-Blackness. These opinions, however clever the original posters may find them, are nothing more than the rotten spoils of a truly victoryless war between aesthetic preferences.

Since it appears this still needs to be said, dunking on any collective of Black women for their external appearance, no matter how vindicated the onus, does very little to avenge the creative liberties of “unconventional” Black fashion. All these statements do is further faction the vestiary prowess of our community.

In short, whether someone is 613-wig-and-spandexed-down or presents as the walking embodiment of a Hot Topic advent, let the baddies, in all their variations, live!