TRJ Shrinks Yo’ Mind: Why Some Black Women Can’t Take a Compliment

After the simple post that turned into a not so simple chaotic room full of people fussing at each other, our resident W/men folk posed a question regarding Black women’s perceived hostility when it comes to receiving compliments from rainboo’s, I decided to dig deeper.

See, I have my own non-professional theory of why it is that some (read: Black) women have a hard time accepting a compliment.

Be it for something physical or a character determination, if you give these type of women a compliment they will find an issue with what was said. Regardless of what the motivation was of the person who extended the pleasantry.

I also want to go further, that this isn’t the BW reaction to W/men, its a reaction to men in general.

See, I use a behavior modification technique I call logic. I take the actions of another, and judge it against how I would behave in the same circumstance and then draw a conclusion on how I interpret what has transpired.

See, when people compliment each other, they do it from a positive place, yes?

In order to give a compliment, one has to a) notice you and then b) determine something about you to be different or special and then c) they must convey their acknowledgement to you.

See that last part right there?

Yes, that’s the part where he may choose to stop keeping his thoughts to himself and instead, he attempts to tell you how he feels. You may or may not care, I’m not asking you to.

This is often where men have to decide if getting next to you and then voicing their observation of you to you is worth getting kicked in the proverbial gonads.

Both men and women enjoy compliments. It makes them feel good. Compliments can be like a verbal high five so why do some women cringe, claw and scurry away when told how someone took notice of them?

Attribution theory is what is used to describe how we feel about a comment made by someone else.

In short, when we hear a compliment, we judge the validity of the comment against our perception of ourselves. 

If what is said goes against how we feel, and what we feel about ourselves, the immediate reaction is suspicion. We presume this person is mocking us, rather than complimenting us, because we do not notice, or we do not believe, their observation to be true.

Those with low self esteem may reject a compliment, or become angry at the person offering the compliment because the attention is foreign to him/her. Your compliment may go against everything they’ve ever thought or been told about themselves, i.e., a beautiful Mocha complexion sounds like ‘you’re so damn black that I couldn’t help but to notice how damn Black you are!”

It’s also very possible that the subject of the compliment has become a sore spot for the person due to the BC’s habit of diminishing or vilifying things which other cultures may simply deem as unique or special, i.e., a gap toothed smile as beautiful versus having ‘buck ass teef’.

Those with high self esteem seek to diminish their perceived edge and may make an attempt at deflecting a compliment. This action is displayed by a woman who may be self conscious about the very thing that you are trying to convey your appreciation of.

This may have been developed when she/he was discouraged from showing pride or feeling preference for some perceived talent or difference.

On the flip side, those who have been given the room to feel proud of accomplishments, talents or other attributes become comfortable with an outside observance of what they know to be true.

As I was researching for this piece I found that fit into this type, and will often use humor to take the attention away from myself. I sometimes want the other person to feel comfortable and not intimidated by me, since I’ve been told that my self confidence can be off putting to those who aren’t raging ego maniacs such as myself.

But usually, the devil gets the best of me and I further my reasons for burning in Hell.

Do you know how beautiful you are?

My Typical Response #1: *looks around uncomfortably….forces a smile*” They say beauty is only skin deep” deflection or

My Typical Response #2: “Yes, I hear it quite often” ego tripping.

I would apologize but for the fact  that I am confident about things that have been quantified, qualified, tallied, stated, awarded and bought to my attention these last few decades. You’ll forgive me for having internalized and understood certain things to be true.

I make no apologize to anyone for their feelings of inferiority due to their perception of my superiority nor should you. If you needed permission to feel special…there it is. *blank stare*

All jokes aside, a female with confidence is not something the Black Community (or society at large) tolerates for reasons I do not know. For a culture that can claim some amazing people, places and things, who gets to take the credit for being the extraordinary individuals that make up such a phenomenon if you’re constantly reminded that you ain’t shit???!

There are instances upon instances of ways in which we’re taught that we ‘ain’t all that’, even if we have proof that we are or happen to just think that we are, special.

Who Took Away Your Special?

Was it your dysfunctional mother who was jealous of you and your potential or was it your father who hated himself so much that he hated you for reminding him of how great he could have been?

Religious: We’re all the same under God’s and each other’s eyes-”There is NOTHING about YOU that is special”

Physically: Don’t be so vain- “You think you’re cute because…..”

Socially: Strong in-groups that support integration and ostracism for anything perceived as an ‘outsider’ or behaviors that threaten their own.

Academically: Being White/Talking White also known as, “You talk funny”, which subconsciously associates acting White with academic success. This belief denies Black children the power to believe that they can and should compete in an effort to be winners and/or losers.

What can be gained from causing those with more artistic talent, better looks, greater athletic ability, higher intellect, beautiful skin, amazing legs, super model height, seven octave voices, resourceful parents, or creative genius to behave as less than they are.

If people are taught to disregard their individual strength or societal ‘edge’ it only causes the mediocre among the group to feel reassured. It does nothing for those who are capable of more to hold back other than allowing the average people a chance to feel special by giving them YOUR special.

Don’t give away your special!!! When you do this, you rob yourself of your true potential because in order to want more for yourself, your must first think you are worthy of AND capable of obtaining it.

The strange counterproductive behaviors that are all over Blackistan are nothing more than a reflection of how these people feel about themselves and their lives. I’ve often observed so many families and friends and felt that there was a huge black cloud of emotional dysfunction looming just above my head.

I saw it, but I couldn’t describe it to make anyone else see it……it was the Blob.

The realization that something ‘just isn’t right’ was my internal quality of life compass telling me that these people may not necessarily be on the same road as you or I may be traveling.

Luckily, my insane confidence in the fact that I am intelligent and a good decision maker caused me to consider and then disregard most of what I was told about life in general by the people around me. I wondered if their negative comments, and ass backward point of views contributed to the hostility, abuse and neglect they show to themselves and others.

When I hear a compliment from a friendly stranger I take it all in and bask in the glow of the specialness that is I…..in my ability to bounce back, in my resourcefulness, in my large circle of caring friends and family and in the fact that when someone says I can’t…it’s simply easier to show them (and myself), that I can and am all that I believe that I am.

Or my amazing hair.

My beautiful smile

Or my mesmerizing saunter!!

So when you Rainboo’s approach a BW and offer a compliment and find that she scowls at you rather than offering the smile you had hoped for, check your fly…and if its closed, then realize its not you-its her.

No loss, I promise you.

Could you go on to love a woman (or man) who clearly thinks you are either a cruel or blind fool? There’s nothing special about them, and maybe they’re right.

Can the inability to determine what is or is not true based on ones own perception interfere in ways beyond simple compliments? It sure does….the pungent odor of inferiority and disbelief in the value of yourself and others is beginning to choke me.

So let’s investigate further shall we?

To be continued…..