I got this letter today from a reader. The emphasis is mine.
I seem to be dealing with the “Dating a Rainbeau Impostor Complex”. I can’t help to think “Really? Are you talking to me?…You do know I look like this right?You know I’m black right?” Maybe I think this way because I’ve seen very little BW/non-BM couples on campus. This year I’ve seen 3 couples, which is 3 more than I’ve ever seen during my four years. Yay! Maybe I think this way because this attention is new to me! I have n0 dating experience, believe it or not. I can attract guys, but I seem like I can’t get over that hump from attraction to flirting/dating and eventually a relationship! I’m not sure if you answered this question already. How do I get over the Impostor Complex?
Honey, how you’re feeling is probably a result of the black community and greater society telling you blatantly or implicitly failing to celebrate your beauty, femininity and allure. Your line, “You do know I look like this, right?” is, to me, indicative of this. Now you sent me your pictures and you’ve asked that I not include them, but I saw you, and you’re a tall, slim, chocolate-skinned woman who wears her hair natural. You’re super cute (guys, you should see her. Think, “African goddess”), but I suspect that in the world you’ve lived in, you’ve received so many messages that dark skin is ugly that the very kinks and coils of your hair are offensive. So when a man, especially a rainbeau, expresses interest in you, you can hardly believe it. You might even be suspicious. You’re thinking this is some cruel and unusual version of Punked, and you’re waiting for the cameras and Ashton Kutcher to come out from the shadows, pointing and laughing to say, “Ha ha! Silly rabbit! These types of guys will never want you!” Sure; most people date within their own race, and it’s natural to have preference for your “tribe,” but the world wouldn’t be as diverse as it is if everybody felt that way. For most men, a pretty girl is a pretty girl!
Unfortunately, dark beauty isn’t celebrated by those who possess that darkness, at least in America. Many of our own say openly and unabashedly that they want ’em light and bright and preferably white. I’m right there with you. It wasn’t until I left the toxicity of a colorist family and immediate community that I really came into my own confidence about my own unique beauty, and when some black-woman idiot on You Tube or blog says I’m ugly and nappy headed, I feel nothing but relief that I’m free of the men and women who find my kinky hair, brown skin and eye-tooth gap disgusting. Because I can tell you, LEGIONS of others love it.
I suspect that your surprise at all this new attention comes from the fact that your unique and Afro-centric attractiveness is being recognized by a non-black man, and your mind is flooding with all that poison you might have heard growing up, like how white men only want black women for sex, or the only white guys that date black women look like Beyonce or Alicia Keyes, or my personal favorite, “Just wait until he call you a ni**er!!”
Understand that it’s not just white guys who will want you for sex. ALL heterosexual men want sex. It’s how they’re designed. It will be up to you to harness his lust at a pace in which you feel comfortable.
Finally, know that it will take some time to unlearn all the crap us dark girls have been told over the years about our desirability. Surround yourself with uplifting and affirming people, ALWAYS. If you’re unsure about dating in general, pick up s copy of Swirling
, along with Get the Guy
by my friend, Matthew Hussey
. Between those two books, you’ll be set. Happy dating, beautiful!