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Seeing Myself in “Girls Trip”

Why I loved watching carefree Black women out on a weekend adventure.

For decades there have been movies that have centered on the unending and devoted friendships between women. Beaches, Thelma & Louise, Bridesmaids, and even Britney Spears’s film debut in the road trip movie Crossroads are some of my favorite feel-good friend and adventure flicks. Even though Lifetime did produce a remake of Beaches starring Nia Long, none of those films tells the stories of Black women like the hilarious and heartwarming Girls Trip.

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I’m slightly obsessed with the film Girls Trip, a movie about four lifelong best friends (Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, and Tiffany Haddish) who partied together back in the day. They decide to take a trip together to reconnect after their friendships have taken a backseat due to motherhood, marriage and relationships, and careers. I cried, I laughed, I cried, then I laughed some more. Their adventure in New Orleans is full of knee-slapping laughter and teary-eyed moments. Tiffany Haddish had zinger after zinger throughout the film, and the on-screen bond between the actresses made the audience invested in rooting for their friendships. Sadly, all of my besties are out of state, so I watched the film with my current BFF, my husband. Although I wasn’t surrounded by the women who got into the best shenanigans with me (shout-out to my own crew, the D.Klubb), seeing a Flossy Posse of women who looked like me made it feel like I was included in the inside jokes.

Girls Trip is about camaraderie, celebrating sex positivity, self-love, and being carefree.

I have said it a billion times and I will say it once more: Representation Matters. Black women love to travel, especially with one another, but if you were hoping to see this reflected in mainstream films, you’d be hard pressed to find any. That wasn’t the case for Girls Trip. In the movie, we actually see the women together in the airport laughing, and their flight looks enviably roomy and comfortable. The party animal of the bunch, Dina (Haddish), buys everyone shots, and as corny as it looks, it’s fun to see these Black women setting out on their weekend journey. There are scenes of the girls enjoying parades, day-drinking in the street, riding on rickshaws, and the soon-to-be infamous scene of them zip-lining in the French Quarter. These all sound like standard vacation activities, but we never get to see this kind of normalcy for Black women. But even in real life, carefree traveling can be a challenge, with Black people facing discrimination and often being told we are too loud. Rowdiness almost seems prohibited, which is why we sometimes refer to getting belligerently drunk as being “white girl wasted,” a phrase said by Dina.

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Although I had the privilege of having a good time out with my friends, I rarely saw my story reflected on screen. In film, Black women are rarely seen as joyful beings. If we’re even seen on screen, it’s often as different tropes, like the caring mammy, sex-crazed jezebel, strong black woman, or the standard angry Black woman. None of these stereotypes ever remotely depicts an authentic Black girl experience or the complexity and nuance that comes along with it.

That’s why Girls Trip resonated so much with me and millions around the country—exceeding expectations at the box office for its opening weekend. Inclusion pays. Unlike so many portrayals of Black women, these characters were able to be sex crazed, exude strength, care for one another, and show anger—but as three-dimensional characters and human beings versus the typical props, tokens, and stereotypes. Girls Trip is about camaraderie, celebrating sex positivity, self-love, and being carefree. The number one comedy in America had another theme throughout the movie of “having it all,” and that’s exactly what we got because this movie is everything.

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