Why Black Women Are Settling Into the Rich Auntie Aesthetic
As a society, we continue to find new ways to identify ourselves and the way we live our lives. Whether you're a self-proclaimed DINK or heavily leaning into almond mom energy, there seems to be a sociological term for every kind of lifestyle. The latest to catch my attention is the rich auntie aesthetic.
Not just a trending hashtag or Instagram page, but instead a way of life — the rich auntie aesthetic has erupted over social media. And for Black women, the term is particularly meaningful. If you're unfamiliar, rich aunties are women who've typically chosen to live child-free, prioritizing their own happiness and financial freedom over everything.
The rich auntie is not worried about meeting the expectations society has set out for them. The rich auntie is living life to the fullest and celebrating the joy of doing life on her own terms, being grounded in intentionality, purpose, and self-compassion, while standing in her truth, authentically and unapologetically, choosing herself with an abundance of love and self-care.
And while the rich auntie is self-sufficient, makes her own money, and has a healthy relationship with that money, she is most importantly "rich in her sense of self," says LA-based licensed marriage family therapist, Cherrie Phillips. "She knows who she is and refuses to allow the world to define her or place her in a box." In other words:
Why More Black Women Are Choosing the Rich Auntie Aesthetic
Despite recently gaining popularity on social media, the rich auntie aesthetic is "a colloquial term that we've known about and it's always just been something that's resonated with us," Eboneé Woodfork, one of the founders of the Rich Auntie Energy lifestyle brand told Good Morning America in an interview.
It has gained notoriety as Black women continue to redefine what fulfillment looks like to them and now have a platform to share that.
At its core though, "the rich auntie aesthetic is a result of many factors, one being that Black women from a very young age are expected to carry multiple responsibilities of keeping the family going, saving the day, or saving the world, and that trope is exhausting," Immaculata Ajuogu, a cultural anthropologist and researcher, tells POPSUGAR. Instead, Black women are "exercising their independence, developing core relationships and sisterhood outside of romantic relationships and motherhood. All of this breaks the cycle of generational trauma, bringing upon more liberating choices," she explains.
As Ajuogu said, Black women have long been tasked with the duty of mothering. The rich auntie aesthetic rejects these conventional norms. In the milieu of the rich auntie aesthetic, Black women have total autonomy in their choice to be mothers, a choice that historically, as a result of enslavement, capitalism, and other factors, has not always been their choice to make.
"Thoughts of marriage and parenthood fill me with apprehension, as I worry that these responsibilities might demand sacrifice that compromises the very essence of my identity."
Black women are choosing to redefine success, not solely in the family they build or choose not to build, but through traveling, acts of self-care, the businesses they start, and the experiences they cultivate that enrich their lives both personally and professionally. Over the last two decades, we have seen the rise of Black female leadership grow throughout corporate America and entrepreneurship, along with Black women being the most educated group in the United States.
Not to mention, with the increased cost of living, swelling student-loan debt, and the pandemics of COVID-19 and racism, Black women are choosing to protect their peace, joining a growing 44 percent of other Americans between 18-49 who have opted to be childless.
What Self-Proclaimed Rich Aunties Have to Say About the Lifestyle
Alison Mckee, a director in the non-profit sector, said her decision to embrace the rich auntie aesthetic was an easy one. "As I get older, I increasingly cherish certain aspects of life, such as independence, tranquility, and moments of serenity," McKee tells POPSUGAR. "Thoughts of marriage and parenthood fill me with apprehension, as I worry that these responsibilities might demand sacrifice that compromises the very essence of my identity."
For some Black women, being a rich auntie may not involve having their own kids, but rather serving as a role model or mother figure in the lives of other children, typically those they are related via the auntie title. They may also forge this relationship through volunteerism in civic organizations, or as educators and professors, mothering the next generation of Black women leaders.
"I'm definitely the rich auntie. I like loving everyone else's kids and then giving them back," says Aledgia McGriger, a C-suite merchant buyer and executive. McGriger says she's never had the urge to have a kid "to live a life with meaning and purpose."
Even for some rich aunties who are childless not by choice, the aesthetic has proven beneficial. "The choice to have children was taken away from me at 28 years old when I had to have an emergency hysterectomy. At first, I was upset that the choice had been taken away from me, but with time I was able to accept and make peace with it, "Diana Bernardez a successful Black nurse, entrepreneur, and advocate for Black patients told POPSUGAR. " I always thought I would adopt but honestly, I like being responsible for only myself. It has allowed me a freedom that I absolutely love. I'm not going to lie, I love that my house is quiet and that I can pick up and go, at any time, and do anything, living out my wildest dreams."
Brittany Williams, a Black woman working in tech start-ups, echoes this sentiment, sharing, "Black women are liberated in knowing that they are making the best decisions in support of a joy-filled life, not settling to commit to something that will detract from the life they've built."
Is the Rich Auntie Aesthetic For You?
For these women, the rich auntie aesthetic has fulfilled their lives in ways they could have never imagined, offering freedom and autonomy outside the conventional expectations of motherhood.
If the rich auntie aesthetic is speaking your name, go for it. Live your best rich auntie life. But if having children and creating a family is important to you, that's OK too. You are worthy and deserving. Every Black woman is entitled to live out their own values and priorities. There is no right or wrong path; just a path that is yours to create, grow, and thrive in.
Whether you choose to live the aesthetic or not, we can all learn a little something from the rich aunties of the world when it comes to leading a life with confidence and audacious fearlessness, unapologetically basking in your own joy and happiness.
As we forge ahead deeper into the new millennium, it is evident that the rich auntie aesthetic is here to stay. Black women will continue to rise, and enter their season of renaissance, reclaiming their time, choices, and freedom. Keep taking up space, rich aunties, we love to see it!