Facebook makes even the most humble folks rabid narcissists, I’m sure of it. I too constantly post pictures of myself, especially if I want to gauge whether or not my hair or makeup looks nice or if I might give the prostitutes on Sunset Boulevard a run for their yet-to-be-earned money. This week I’d posted a picture (rocking the hayell out of my natural hair) and I’m not gonna lie, all the positive “likes” really made me feel good! But one Facebook friend of mine, who happens to be black, commented, “Not bad I guess.” (aka otherwise known as, “You aaaaiight,” followed by a little yellow happy face meant to tease me).
This struck one of my nerves. Not because I need everyone to fawn over me–I’m too old to give a crap. Why did I mention he was black? Because of my upbringing and socialization, these were the men whom I’d had the most exposure to growing up. This is what I observed many, many of them do, but back then I didn’t know the reason why. It bothered me because it reminded me of a common notion often programmed into young black girls and women–never tell them they are cute. Or beautiful. Or lovely. Say they are “Aaaaiight.” Knock down her self-esteem to keep her off center and insecure. Make her feel like she should be grateful you’re paying any attention to her “aaaiight” behind. In short, it’s game and straight up manipulation.
Ensuring black girls know “They ain’t cute” is so engrained into our collective psyche as to be accepted on it’s face without realizing the potential damage it has. This week’s theme has been about black girls and women embracing their unique beauty and learning to like what they see in the mirror. Not acknowledging their attractiveness creates a psychological dysmorphia–the girl may be beautiful, but cannot see it because those around her refuse to acknowledge it.
This girl is gorgeous, yet everyone around her is telling her otherwise. Killing her soul. And what might her life be like, thinking she’s ugly and undesirable? What choices might she make because she simply thinks she can not do better? Look at her face–she’s defeated. With A’s and B’s, she wants to quit school, what in the natural cuss?
Some of these women grow up and actually become suspicious when someone says their pretty, beautiful, lovely, cute, whatever–we see this a lot when non-black men express and love and preference for the very features our community has taught us to hate. She how this all fits? Step One: Tell child she’s not all that. Step Two: Tell young girl, teenager, and young woman she’s “Aaaight” to depress the value she puts in herself. Step Three: When outsider approaches as tells her otherwise, say it’s because he just wants jungle booty.
Rule of thumb: Honey, if a man you’re dating refuses to tell you that you are beautiful TO HIM, dump him, do not look back. These are the same dudes who will hang out for six months, sex you, lay up at your house and tell all his friends that “We just talkin’.” Uhmmm…No. Men who act like giving you any compliment or acknowledgement at all of your allure are men not to be trusted, plain and simple. Why? Because THEY DO NOT WANT YOU TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF. Because a secure woman, in their minds, is to be feared, because she cannot be so easily controlled and manipulated.
THIS IS A GAME.
There’s documented evidence all over books and male-centered blogs about this, because small, insecure men can’t stand to date a woman who actually feels good about herself. There’s some variance of this game with white guys too, with one difference–they don’t have an entire community co-opting the behavior. Becky may look like a toad, but she’ll always be Daddy’s little princess.
And on a final note, I’m not saying you should go around looking for people to pump you up and gas your head. However, a man you are dating should have LOVING EYES and SEE YOU AS BEAUTIFUL. It is, indeed in the eye of the beholder.