Depending on your social media algorithm you might have seen several posts advocating for #SoftLife. This hashtag is accompanied by images and videos of the Black girls vacationing, brunching, weekly fresh flowers, and taking hot girl walks with fresh pressed juice. For all intents and purposes, these women appear to be enjoying a life of ease, comfort, and luxury.
After seeing several posts about the soft life movement I was very curious about what it means and what its application looks like. According to the definitions I have seen, soft life is a life requiring ease without hard work, sacrifices, and the uneasiness of stress. Now by this definition alone, it can be easy to misconstrue and misinterpret soft life but I think it warrants a deeper examination.
Because of the images we see on social media it’s easy to conflate soft life simply as living a life of luxury, being lazy, or even desiring to ”act white.” But soft life isn’t about wealth, acquiring material possessions, lack of ambition, or othering yourself. Instead, it’s a shift in the mindset of who you want to be and how you want to live your life. It’s a rebuking of the struggle life, hustle culture, and tolerating toxic relationships.
As Black women, we adopted a certain set of principles in order to survive misogynoir. This type of oppression and suppression did not allow us to thrive and be fully fledged individuals. Idioms such as “sleep when you’re dead” and “you need to work twice as hard to be half as good” have left us with generations of resentment, severe burnout, and toxic mindsets that relegated Black women to a position of servitude and neglect.
In thinking about the desire to have a soft life I thought about Ruby from HBO’s Lovecraft Country. Ruby is a Black woman with a desire to work at Marshall Fields deparment store. She has worked hard at achieving this goal by taking typing classes and making herself knowledgeable about the industry. She subscribes to the notion that Black people should and ought to apply themselves and work hard for advancement. Ruby applies for the job often but of course is denied because of her race.
But through some plot points, I am not going to cover, Ruby is afforded an opportunity to transform into a white woman. And this is when she leans into her soft life persona. While she is a white woman she experiences how easy life is in that body. People smile at her instead of sneering. She is even given free things just because of her whiteness. In her white body, she was revered and instantly given value. After she witnesses how being white affords her a certain level of access she interviews for the job and is instantly prompted because her resume makes her overqualified. The soft life is very attractive to her and she occupies the life of a white woman frequently.
I understand why Ruby does it. It’s because no one wants to struggle. So yeah I get why folks are opting for the soft life. Working hard for the sake of working hard is not cute and it ain’t fun. Sure life is full of challenges and obstacles but that doesn’t mean we volunteer as tribute for those challenges. We’ve been conditioned to believe that success at the end of the hard road is greater and more applauded. So sometimes we choose that option instead of the less demanding one. This looks like hyper-independence and not asking for help when needed because Black women are “strong enough” to carry it all. And we all know how damaging acting out this trope can be on our mental health.
Soft life isn’t just about opting out of the struggle. It’s about no longer letting ourselves be undervalued, unappreciated, and unloved. It’s about prioritizing yourself over others and establishing boundaries. It’s the undoing of the labels of being an “alpha” or “high achieving” female and the pressures it creates with staying overbooked and overwhelmed. It’s about not tying your self-worth to productivity, job title, net worth, diplomas, or square footage of your living space. It’s centering life around joy and peace.
A soft life is something I have been slowly putting into practice for the last few years but I don’t label it that. For me, it’s part of my ever-evolving journey of self-awareness and being true to who I am and what I want. We all deserve a soft life.