By Tanay Adams
For Jelly. Happy Birthday!
Though we are at the end of Leo season, I couldn’t let it pass without typing a small ode to the Leo woman in my life. To all the confident and playful energy the season brings, and to the Black women who embody this energy just opening their eyes in the morning. I’m talking about fiery, passionate, prideful, and protective Leo women with big hair who glow in the sun and cut with their tongue; they’re the reason for the season. When I think about iconic Leo women who’ve graced the screens of my childhood and present-day; women like Whitney Houston, Vivica Fox, Halle Berry, and Viola Davis come to mind because it doesn’t matter what they’re doing; they show up with lion energy constantly. It may clash or flow with the others in the room, but you’ll know it’s there, and it’s unmistakable. It is for this reason that when I recently watched Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple,” I couldn’t deny how much of Shug Avery’s energy, ways, and comments embodied much of that lion energy I’ve had the, sometimes pleasure, of being near. I don’t know if her birthday was mentioned at all in the book or movie, but if it was and it did not fall between July 22nd and August 22nd, I’m here to tell you, it’s wrong. Shug Avery is definitely a Leo, and here are five reasons why:
- The first time she met Celie, she called her ugly and laughed in her face.
Leos hate relying on people, and they hate competition. When Shug arrives that rainy day falling through Celie’s door, that was the last homing option because everyone else had refused to take her in. Mister had taken Celie as his wife; Shug had been used to being the only woman in Mister’s life and didn’t know how the dynamic would be with them both there. So although Shug was down on her luck and needed Celie, she didn’t want to be looked down on and let her know that she at least still had her looks.
2. She threw subpar food at the wall.
Leos interpret anything subpar given to them as a sign of extreme disrespect. My best friend often says that “Your good isn’t good enough” to those who do things for her or give something they may think is good but know is not up to the standard she’d give them. If you’re not going to do it the way they would, then don’t do it all because that’s when the walls start changing colors.
3. The way Shug loves.
Though Leo’s are used to being the center of attention and the one praises are usually sung to, they 100% return that energy to the ones in their lives that 100% give that to them. In one of the most iconic scenes in the movie, Celie sits shyly at the Juke Joint while everyone’s eyes are on Shug as she shimmy’s in that red dress. After her song ends, she takes that moment when eyes are on her to speak about her appreciation and love for Celie, then follows it up with the “Miss. Celie Blues.” Publicly loving and acknowledging Celie in a way that she only has experienced once before from her sister. Because Celie loved Shug despite anything, Shug couldn’t help loving Celie in that same way.
4. Shug does what Shug wants.
Leo’s don’t like rules unless they’re the ones making them; they don’t like hearing the word no and will find a way for everything to work out in the way they intend it to; even when they’re not in charge. We see Shug exude this energy throughout the entire movie; in fact, it’s what she’s known for! If she wants to travel and sleep with whomever she pleases – she does just that; she ignores Mr’s “mailbox rule” and gets Celie the letters from her sister AND finds the others as well. Though her father isn’t the fondest because of her reputation, she still stops by the church to talk to him because that’s what SHE wants to do, and at the end of the movie, when she tells Mr. that Celie is going with her, she meant just that.
5. She sang that church DOWN!!!
It’s no secret that Leo’s can be territorial over their people, places, things, or anything concerning their essence (duh, they’re lions), and everyone knows a Leo loves a stage. So when Shug heard someone else singing HER song at HER daddy’s church, not in the way that SHE would’ve sung it, you know she had to show them how it’s done. As the ringleader of the sinners, she led a parade of people; in yellow, singing into the doors of that church and into her father’s arms.
As the symbol of self-love throughout the movie, Shug moved in ways others couldn’t understand and constantly chose herself even when it seemed like she was choosing others. She did and said what she wanted and inspired those around her to do the same no matter what anyone thought. She lived vibrantly and wore red sequins in the south; she refused to let anyone own her and stood up for Celie when it seemed like the world was going to keep knocking her down. Watching Shug move and live in The Color Purple reminded me of the ways the Leo’s I know and love live around me; just always bringing the sun and not afraid to tap into or use their personal power. Just like Celie, I’ve gone through some cloudy periods in my life, but I am so thankful that my best friend happens to be the sun.
Tanay Adams – Tanay M.A. is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Tanay’s passions lie in holistic education and creative/poetry writing; both are heavily influenced by her love of Black Women, and her love of creation. You can follow her on Instagram @theamazingtanayzing