Friday, April 29, 2011

The Claire Huxtable Code

Claire Huxtable is the perfect professional black mom. Actually, Claire Huxtable transcends race: She’s the perfect professional mom, period. She also transcends generations: While June Cleaver, Carol Brady, and Edith Bunker may lose potency over time, if you go back to the archives, you’ll find Claire Huxtable still holds up strong. Every TV mom is still aspiring to be Claire. She simply covers all the bases: Effective lawyer. Attentive parent. Lightning-fast hoagie snatcher.

She raised the bar every Thursday night for years and years, and millions of black men went to bed dreaming they would someday run into their own Claire. Every black man under forty in America has used her as a guiding light in his quest for the perfect partner. When they go out on dates with black women, their eyes glaze over as they hallucinate three-cushion sofas and little Rudys and Theos walking around, being adorably bratty and dealing with very solvable life issues.

How to be a modern-day Claire:
  1. Date a professional: doctor, lawyer, politician. Income, insurance, and a job that projects dignity and respect are nonnegotiables for Claire.
  2. Be independently successful: You want a professional man, but no one ever saw Claire asking for money on The Cosby Show.
  3. Develop the ability to raise one eyebrow—it’s the ultimate passive-aggressive tool. I’m pretty sure there are a couple episodes where Claire didn’t speak a single line, she just raised the eyebrow for every purpose, be it warning the children or luring Cliff into the bedroom.
  4. Dress in age-appropriate attire that is neither flashy nor cheap. Claire was sexy, but at the same time we never saw more than a few inches of flesh exposed. Try to keep up with that, Kim Kardashian!
  5. Health and fitness are part of the agenda but should not be overdone. Claire never bemoaned her weight, but we also never saw her coming from the gym.
How to find your Claire:
  • Tour local graduate schools.
  • Have a graduate degree yourself.
  • Be comfortable with the fact that you will always be less put together than your woman. Be a fixer-upper.
  • No drugs, no excessive drinking. Life itself is fun with Claire; there’s no need to artificially enhance.
  • A small potbelly is endearing.

Michelle Obama might be taking the baton as the quintessential symbol of the professional black woman/doting mother. Being the first lady and having the whole “actually existing” thing going for her will surely help her work her way into our collective hearts and minds. But she’ll still need Barack to win a second term before she can approach the status of Claire Huxtable.

illustration by Brandon

1 comment:

  1. That sounds exhausting! Isn't there a middle ground, or some options in terms of role models for young African American women?


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