Outside of my late mother, I have been immensely blessed to grow up around some of the world’s most powerful women. The phenomenon known as “Black Girl Magic” is VERY real, and I am always in awe of the wonderful things that Black Women are doing, have done, and still have yet to do.
One such woman is a breast cancer survivor and breast cancer awareness advocate, a Chicago legend, a fashion Goddess, a business owner, one of society’s most renowned clothiers, a dynamic speaker, a motivator, and is simply “cooler than a fan”. I call her a Black Warrior Princess…but her mother named her Barbara Bates.
Many may know Barbara for her timeless fashions, amazing runway shows, and by being amongst those given the opportunity to dress/style a few household names i.e. Sinbad, Ce Ce Winans, Bernie Mac, Michael Jordan, “Iron Mike” (Tyson), Val Warner, and the list goes on and on! In the midst of being a style maven “leather Queen”, Barbara also survived breast cancer. With a Stage Three diagnosis in June 2009, Barbara was in for the fight of her life. While taking chemo, she would STILL come in to work… “gotta keep it movin”, she says. She states that she had to get into “survival mode”, because not only was she dealing with a terminal illness, to which there was no history of breast cancer in her immediate family, she was dealing with the fact that her youngest son was facing 19 years in federal prison for a non-violent offense (conspiracy to distribute drugs). In the midst of caring for her family, and running her business, she still managed to survive, and ultimately defeat breast cancer.
I call her the ‘Black Warrior Princess” because so many would have given up, let depression set in, and may have even stopped focusing on a reason to live. That wasn’t Barbara. When you’re clear on your purpose, you fight for that purpose. She continues with her fabulous fashion designing skills and this past August, she celebrated the 5th annual “Walk Where You Live” Breast Cancer 5K Walk/Run, sponsored by the Barbara Bates Foundation. So she not only understands the importance of fighting for self, but she also understands the benefit of being in the fight for others dealing with this disease.
Listen…if you want to see a TRUE Black Warrior Princess at work? Take time to visit her website at www.barbarabatesdesigns.com. Bates hosted the “Real Women Wear Bates” Fashion Show, on Sunday, October 21 at the Bridgeport Art Center. Real Women fight for their causes; Real Women give back to their community; Real Women are Survivors; Real Women wear invisible crowns. Barbara Bates is The Black Warrior Princess.
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