The women (and even the children) of the Real Housewives franchise are no strangers to cosmetic procedures. However, if you’ve tuned into this season of the Real Housewives of Potomac, where Dr. Wendy Osefo and her new body have become a commonplace topic, you’d never be able to tell. Her recent cosmetic work has caused a bit of a stir amongst the ladies of the DMV, and the new physique has attracted some negative comments from her co-stars — particularly Gizelle Bryant, Robyn Dixon and Ashley Darby.
The Johns Hopkins professor underwent a mommy makeover that included breast implants and the popular Brazilian butt lift following the birth of her third child. Osefo kicked off the sixth season hosting a buzzed-about “Nude Interlude” dinner to show off her new look that she said gave her the “sparkle” she’s been missing. She mentioned that breastfeeding all three children for over a year took a toll on her body and she was ready to elevate her look. However, Bryant began to express that she felt like Osefo seemed “off” after her surgery, interpreting the newfound confidence, instead, as a sign that something may be wrong at home with Osefo’s husband, Eddie. “It was very much like supposedly Eddie has a girlfriend or something,” Bryant said on Sunday’s episode. “It could be that because she knows the rumor, she’s trying to overcompensate — not that it’s true.”
In a private conversation between Darby and Bryant (concerning Osefo’s body, of course) Bryant stated, “It’s just a new, I don’t wanna say ‘new and improved,’ I want to say new Wendy that likes to talk about her titties and her ass.” Darby went on to agree, saying that Osefo’s recent behavior is “so contrary to [her]” and mocked her by claiming that the group met Osefo “as the professor, and now she’s like you know, Miss Wendy if you’re nasty.” Although the two women’s conversation can be interpreted as expressing concern for the new Wendy, the dialogue proved outdated and, frankly, problematic.
Osefo joined the Potomac cast with four degrees, a career as a professor at a prestigious university, a slew of news commentating under her belt and a beautiful family. In her first season as a housewife, she was received well by the OGs of the show — minus a couple spats that had nothing to do with her appearance. Never shy to bring up the fact that she has four degrees, her accolades seemed to be at the forefront of every argument. But this season, with a new storyline shining through, “Zen Wen’s” new look has disrupted the respectability politics that are ever-so-prevalent amongst the ladies of RHOP as well as within Black womanhood as a whole. Historically, Black women have been stereotyped as naturally lascivious, while white women have been portrayed as the models of society even when they’re channeling their inner sexy. Being conservative has been a way to fight off this horrible racist stereotype of Black women, but times are changing, ideals are evolving and Black women can more freely show off why we’re the furthest thing from a monolith.
That’s why, it’s so incredibly off-putting to see Osefo torn down and her integrity and accomplishments minimized by the same women who should actually be uplifitng her. On a girl’s trip to Williamsburg, VA, as seen on this week’s episode, Osefo opted for outfits that showcased all her new assets. To no surprise, the feathers of Bryant, Darby and Dixon were ruffled. More ironic, Bryant’s style is constantly called into question, as well. She’s often critiqued by castmates and social media alike for “having no fashion sense.” Yet, under a microscope herself, Bryant has been the ringleader for problematic statements against Osefo’s new look.
New castmates seem to agree as well. Take newbie Mia Thornton, for example, who too offered her opinion on Osefo’s bodysuit choices, calling it “too much.” It’s important to note that Thornton has also had several cosmetic surgeries, most notably, one to her clitoris which she revealed on episode one.
The obsession and discomfort with Osefo’s confidence and feelings of liberation — even from other women — isn’t necessarily a surprise. However, the idea that somehow Osefo is any less intelligent or worthy of respect is asinine and antiquated. As Black women we should be given the grace to evolve and to have full-autonomy over our bodies — no matter our profession, status or age. The comments continuously made about Osefo this season reveal the still very widespread idea that not only is being sexy and confident somehow a bad thing, but it’s also intimidating to those who’ve yet to find that confidence within themselves.
We’d love if more than Versace bustiers and thong bodysuits were a topic this season. However, if we know anything from Real Housewives history, these women are known to harp on the issues that don’t concern them to avoid having to address the turmoil taking place in their own lives. But to Osefo and any Black woman finding their sexy and facing criticism along the way: if the haters won’t tell you, we will. Sis, you’re doing a good job.