Vanessa Willoughby

I Am Not Exotic, I Am Exhausted focuses on the depiction of black women in popular culture, including but not limited to film, television, literature, art, and music. Vanessa Willoughby unpacks stereotypes ascribed to black women, how art reinforces or strengthens colonialist ideologies, and how art can serve as resistance.

Vanessa Willoughby is an editor and freelance writer. Her bylines have appeared on, but are not limited to: Vice, Hazlitt, The Toast, The Hairpin, Bitch, The Billfold, Bookslut and Book Riot. She is Creative Director for Winter Tangerine and Promotions Manager for Apogee Journal.

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When Being a Regular Black Girl Isn’t Enough

“When people on social media wonder why [Lil’] Kim ‘looks like a white woman,’ they ignore the fact that through personal experience and unconscious influence, Kim has learned to view whiteness as a marker of superiority.”

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The Strong Black Woman Who Didn’t Exist

“The seductive dream of the Strong, Independent, Self-Sufficient Woman envelops black girls like veils of opium smoke.” Vanessa Willoughby introduces her column with a lyrical essay about racism, expectation, mental illness, and art.

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