Don’t Let This Denise Huxtable Meme Get You In Trouble

Last night, long after I should have been asleep, I was on Instagram’s explore page. There, I stumbled across this meme. It featured a picture very similar to the one above.  Denise Huxtable, in her stylish yet loose-fitting clothes sitting cross-legged on the ground, was  juxtaposed with a woman in a bikini, booty tooted.

The words beneath the pictures were the same.


On the one hand I understand that we are all different. Some of us are baggy-clothes babes and some of us prefer to “skin out.”

I don’t know why we need a meme for that though. People who know you or follow you on Instagram will be able to tell how much of your body you do and don’t reveal. Interestingly enough, the young lady whose post I saw last night, had plenty of pictures of herself in bikinis, halter tops and short shorts.


Today, the meme came up again when actress Tia Mowry posted it. Unlike the girl I saw last night, Tia provided a bit of a rationalization.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with the “other girls.” Get it girls!! But this is so ME! P.s Nobody is shamming [sic] anybody either! Please don’t read into it! GESH!”

With Nicki Minaj’s Barbz, you already know it wasn’t long before people were dragging Tia, to the point where she deleted the post all together.

And while I really like Tia and really don’t believe she meant any harm; I have to admit, the Barbz were right to tell her about herself in this instance, though I’m sure they could have been more polite about it.

Point is, this meme was clearly designed to pit women against each other, to elevate one while disgracing the other. It’s clear that there is value being assigned to Denise Huxtable while Nicki Minaj is derided for wearing an outfit many of us would wear to the beach, and might even pose in.

One of the biggest issues I notice in our society is that people believe a woman is only worthy of respect if she dresses, acts and carries herself a certain way. But why can’t a woman be worthy of respect simply because she’s a human being? Why does poking your booty out, or wearing a swimsuit make you less than?

And in case you don’t believe that Nicki Minaj was meant to be subordinate in this meme, you need look no further than the word “females.”

We had a discussion about this very word earlier today. It’s problematic. I know I’m not the only one who’s noticed it’s almost exclusively used in the pejorative. “These females out here be…” “You can’t trust these females…” “Females these days…” And the list goes on and on.

Furthermore, it’s just inaccurate. There’s a word for female human… it’s woman.

Call me dramatic if you want to but the consistent use of the word, particularly in the negative sense, whether intentional or not, subtly and subconsciously paints women who behave in ways deemed unacceptable, in an animalistic, less than human light. I don’t have to tell you that’s not right. And women should be the absolute last people perpetuating that cycle.

Particularly when most of us, as that Instagram girl proved, exist somewhere in the middle of Denise Huxtable and Nicki Minaj. Or we’re Denise one day and Nicki the next. Complexity is the nature of being human. Putting ourselves in these good girl, bad girl boxes is not only tired at this point, it’s unrealistic.

Lest we forget, Lisa Bonet is not even Denise Huxtable, she’s just a character. And if we want to be real, Nicki Minaj is often playing a bit of a role when we see her out publicly. Instead of trying to identify with characters and facades, we should be striving to be the most authentic versions of ourselves, and not bashing other women in the process.

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Her post was at the corner of Vallyr and 42nd and all day she watched the crowds pass by. Some from within the city and others from abroad. The horses with their size were the most impressive but she had a fondness for the oxen too, and when a pure white one passed she could not help but go out to greet the cart it pulled. The occupants looked at her warily but said nothing.

He’s beautiful, she said, and traced a finger down the place where his ear met his head. He shook as if to clear flies, and she laughed. Does he have a name?

There was a young girl sitting next to the man the drover’s seat and she spoke to him in a low voice. Quick patter of some other language, perhaps Ferasi. Behind her her watch partner was stifling a laugh.

Keisa, the man said, with heavy accent. Name Keisa.

Banyi, she said, and stepped back. She placed three fingers in her open palm and offered them up. A gesture of respect she remembered her mother teaching her. My name is Tarya, she said. Welcome to Valari.

The man nodded quickly and reined the oxen forward. The young girl turned to wave at her until she was out of sight.

One of these days the commander’s going to see that, her watch partner said. And then he’s going to ask me why I didn’t call you back.

Just tell him I didn’t listen.

He’ll give me an earful for it anyway.

Tarya shrugged and the hilt of her sword clinked on a stud of her belt. Should’ve had the sense to pick a better partner, then.

They stood watch by turns. One sitting on the pedestal provided, the other scanning the crowds. On occasion when the traffic was thickest they stood and helped direct, gesturing lanes for those on foot, those on horse, those on carts. But most of the day they took in the view of the City, straight down Vallyr all the way to the front gates, and the plains beyond. It was summer and the Vau was roaring in the canal, and beyond the walls where it spread out into a wider track they could see it in motion, reflecting light.

The commander passed at midday and greeted them, and Tarya was standing watch with her hand relaxed on the pommel of her sword, eager at attention. They spoke a while about goings-on in the neighborhood. A gang whose members had been seen about, a vacant few posts in the 3rd district, rotations for the next week. Then he left and they went back to their spare banter, observations of the street.

They had been at the post three weeks now and were slowly learning the flow. Before they had been at 44th and Triéme, a park road in a good neighborhood, and the most they had ever had to do was call backup for a fire. There had been an old reflectory there, and on their watch days they had listened to the songs. Mostly historicals for the children in firststudy but occasionally praises from the few believers of the district, older songs, sung in Silvari. Though she said nothing of it she liked the latter better.

But Vallyr was the mainline of the city and another thing entirely from the quiet of where they had been. All of the guard did at least one rotation along its length in the years of their service and she had now done several. Each time it was different. Down near the gates at the edges of Lowarc housing there was an air of desperation to the rhythm of life, and in the winter and deep winter she had called for more healers than she cared to remember. But in midarc where now she was and in the summertime besides the flow of traffic held a kind of promise. Even those traders who had come from Holdings on the other side of the world were smiling.

Ninae, she said, and her watch partner stood.


Look at it. How busy it is.

It’s summer, of course it’s busy.

But it’s not—look at all the people. Do you ever look at them all and just…

She was holding out her hand in a gesture of explanation and she let it fall. Ninae’s mouth twitched at a corner and she swatted Tarya’s arm.

Ia, she said. I do.