I gave a talk tonight on the theme, “The Gracefulness of a Virtuous Woman,” to a group of female freshmen at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. The following is the transcript of my talk:
I’m a writer, so I like writing, hence, my talk tonight is written. Also as a writer, by definition, I like words. And it is the definitions of words that intrigue me very much.
In preparing for this talk, I researched the definitions of gracefulness and virtuous. Of course, I already had ideas of what these words meant, but with me liking words and all, I wanted to see more words—words that other people have attributed to the aforementioned words.
Merriam-Webster defines gracefulness as “dignified or restrained beauty of form.”
Google defines virtuous as “having or showing high moral standards.”
Hmm. Admittedly, even before I researched these words for our talk tonight, I found them and their definitions daunting, and giving a talk on these words and their definitions even more daunting. That’s because I tend to group words like gracefulness and virtuous with words like perfect and success.
We’re all familiar with the words “perfect” and “success,” right? Does anyone else besides me feel a little nervous when they hear those words? Was anyone else a little nervous when they heard the words, “gracefulness” and “virtuous”?
Well, these words make me nervous because, at first glance, they can appear to have narrow definitions and not leave a lot of room for interpretation. And as a writer, a.k.a. an artist, I love interpretation, which means that narrowness can be a challenge for me. This includes narrow definitions, narrow-mindedness…even my hips, thighs and butt rebel against the notion of narrowness. And yet, I am here talking to you wonderful people about the commonly, narrowly-defined words, gracefulness and virtuous.
So, my first order of business is to inform you all that you already possess gracefulness and virtue inside of you…right now…just as you are. You can’t buy them, earn them or learn them. Sure, you can attend an event like this and talk about them and listen to them being talked about by others, but you don’t have to work for what you already have. Your only “work” is to remind yourself – again and again – that you already have them.
My second order of business is to help you take a second glance at the words gracefulness and virtuous. I already noted that, at first glance, their definitions appear to be narrow. But now that you know, or have been reminded, that gracefulness and virtue already exist within you, at second glance, their definitions aren’t that narrow after all.
After all, how many of us in here are identical? Look around and raise your hand if there is someone in here who is identical to you. Even if Tia and Tamera Mowry were here, they wouldn’t raise their hands because even though they are technically identical twins, they are not identical human beings, as we can very well see from their reality show and their…reality.
So, if none of us is identical to one another and everyone is different from each other, then the gracefulness and virtue that is inside each of us is defined differently too. Meaning, your innate gracefulness and virtue are different from my innate gracefulness and virtue because we are different from each other. Therefore, it makes sense that how we express and see gracefulness and virtue differs also.
Maybe your definition of gracefulness is an image of Beyoncé walking a red carpet in a Versace gown at a glamorous event, and maybe my definition of gracefulness is an image of Serena Williams knocking the life out of a tennis ball at Wimbledon with a loud and ferocious, “Ugh!”
Guess what? That’s okay. It’s okay that your definition of gracefulness is different from mine because we are different by design.
Maybe your definition of virtue is an idea of you remaining a virgin and waiting until you get married to have sex, and maybe my definition of virtue is embracing consensual, safe and shameless sex and engaging in sex with a person or persons who I respect and who I feel and believe respect me.
Guess what? That’s okay. It’s okay that your definition of virtue is different than mine because we are different by design.
And speaking of respect, I am now brought to my third, brief and final order of business—respect other people’s definitions of gracefulness and virtue. You don’t have to admire them, like them or agree with them. But if you want others to respect your definitions of gracefulness and virtue, then it only makes sense that you provide that same respect to others.
Copyright © 2014-2016 Stephanie Rochelle Redd. All rights reserved.