How Sarah Baartman’s Forgotten Life Can Be Your Vindication

Today’s post is a guest post by Victoria Goodlow. A Texas native passionate about uplifting her community. Please welcome Victoria to our community and comment below to support her post.

Just like any other woman, I struggle with insecurities.

There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t complain about my skin, my kinky hair or my body.

Our fellow sisters, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston, and India Arie gifted us with words that inspired us to love the skin we’re in and embrace the many physical changes we go through.

On top of that, we have countless representations of Black women, such as Michelle Obama, Taraji P. Henson, Serena Williams, and Ava DuVernay; that motivate us through the confidence that seeps from their pores.

Therefore, we have no excuse to be insecure. Then again, being Black has its own unique case. No matter what we do, we subconsciously demean ourselves without even realizing it.

Society has always done things, without our discretion, to perpetuate their belief of our racial inferiority.

The perfect illustration comes from the meaningful, yet not so notable story, of Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman.

Baartman, also known as “Hottentot Venus”, was taken from South Africa to Europe in her early 20s and put on display as a freak show attraction in the 19th century. She became the object of scientific and medical research. 

She spent four years in Britain being viewed as a savage woman because of her large buttocks, voluptuous shape and big lips. After Baartman’s death, her sexual organs were put on display until 1974.

For decades, society has used the Black women’s body to draw a line between what is “abnormal” (our bodies) and “normal” (white beauty).  They were destroying us before we got a chance to love us.

We may not be able to change the world’s view on the Black woman, but we can renew our minds to value the skin we’re in.

Baartman didn’t have the chance to love herself the right way because outside devices were there to tell her she was distasteful. A body used for shame and abuse can never be a representation of esteem and worship without self-love.

So, how can the forgotten life of  Sarah Baartman be your vindication?

1. Don’t let your past define your future.

It’s tough to let go of insecurities that you have been carrying for years. However, today is the day that you need to say “enough is enough” and take action. You can’t change the things that have happened but you can control, how big of a part it will play in your future.

2. You were made in God’s image. Embrace it!

God makes no mistakes. You were wonderfully made with care. If European features were the official trademark for beauty, everyone would have them.

3. Build self-love by having an “Hour of Awe” every morning!

I’ve learned at my church that it’s important to dedicate time every morning to prepare for your day. Your first thoughts determine how the rest of your day goes. Try implementing an “Hour of Awe” this week and reflect on how you feel by the end. The morning routine consists of:

  • Starting your morning with 30 minutes of exercise to clear your mind
  • During your cool down, have a scripture/quote ready to meditate on for 5 minutes
  • Spend the next 5 minutes speaking constructive feedback about something you are insecure about and steps you are going to take to overcome it
  • 10 minutes of reading (i.e. Bible, self-guidance book, and etc.)
  • 10 minutes of prayer/journaling

4. Do not let Sarah’s life go in vain.

Be the voice that Sarah never got to use. It’s up to you to break the cycle and clear Black women from all accusations that society fostered upon them. Don’t use the “standards of beauty” as an excuse as to why you can’t overcome your insecurities. If you keep building your foundation on top of the scornful, demeaning, and ill-fated ground that was made for Sarah, you will always sink.

You have the power to define beauty on your terms. Embrace your unique brand of beauty and inspire another woman to embrace hers!


Victoria GoodlowVictoria Goodlow is a free-spirited Dallas, TX native. She currently works as the Assistant Program Director for The Amadi Guess Foundation, a non-profit organization that serves nutritious meals to underprivileged children in the D/FW area. When Victoria isn’t making plans to take over the world, she is volunteering, traveling, eating, and being spontaneous!

Find Victoria on social media here.



Share your wisdom. Comment below!

What are your thoughts on how the media and society portray black women? How can we uplift ourselves and promote high self-esteem in our community?

  • Trevor Davies

    Yes it is crazy , because being a white man I find the black woman much more attractive with a fuller figure than white women can ever be. just my opinion .

  • Yes, I enjoyed reading this! & This can go for all brown girls or even white who are not quite shaped as societal’s ideal. I was just thinking, God made SO many types of people how can only one look be Beautiful?! Great Post!

  • Victoria Goodlow

    I’m glad that you like the self-esteem angle. I used Baartman’s story because to me she was a great example of where our insecurities foster from, as well as how society treats our bodies and still do. Today, big butts, full lips, and curvy bodies are becoming acceptable and are admirable; but not on a black woman. It’s crazy! I look at her story as a way to uplift others. Sometimes a lack of a voice can motivate others to make a story known and realize the current patterns, so we can break out of it. I hope this helps!

  • carefree-blackgirls

    Something is off about this piece. We shouldn’t use Saartjie’s lack of a voice as a stepping stone to build up our own. That’s what I’m getting from this story. The self-esteem angle is good but using Saartjie Bartman as an example? That’s the strangest thing to me and it’s unsettling. I’m not going to use Saartjie’s story to set myself free from the anti-black notions perpetuated in society against black bodies. That notion alone is triggering considering what she went through.

  • Yay! Thank you for reading 🙂 Victoria did a great job.

  • Chanesia

    Great read. Great takeaways. Can’t wait to read your next post.