Dear Queen
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Dear Queen

Reminders: Browngirls Can Be Awkward, Hood & Bourgie, with Brains & Beauty

Last week, my twin spirit and I shared similar stories of dimming our light in our younger days, so to not outshine others who were really just projecting their own issues onto us. She led with this statement:

“girls will think you are magic and want to be like you, guys will want to be with you and you [should] capitalize off all of it. Instead, when you’re cute you try and tone it down. [But] why? To make someone seemingly less attractive or with less esteem, feel better.”

I’m always amazed when I recap the past and recognize how I unknowingly crushed myself into box that was never made for me.

So naive.

It got me to thinking about my awkward, introverted, brown, #blerdgirl, self and how I never wanted to admit that this is who I’ve always been. When folks talk about brains and beauty, they act as if neither can exist in the same space, that it’s this tall tale passed down from generation to generation. Fact: there are plenty of drop-dead gorgeous women who have excelled with the use of their brains, only. Their pretty might have gotten them in the door, but I guarantee when they showed up and showed out, you knew that shit was real. Please understand that #blackgirlmagic is real.

Circa 90’s: me being my introverted self.

Then, she and I had the nerve to be 3LB (light-skinned, long hair, light-eyed and bourgie). *insert eye roll*

There’s this misconception that all Black and Brown girls born from or raised in the hood MUST have a “hood mentality”, or that ALL light-skinned, long hair, light-eyed girls are conceited. Let me dispel that myth. Yep, I’m a bourgie, brown girl from the “hood” with the ability to cuss you out in 2.2 seconds and heal your spirit with the same tongue. I have a Master’s Degree and still favor a buttered roll and small coffee from my local bodega. I was raised in an underserved community; however, my mind, body and soul were more fulfilled than anyone could ever imagine. And trust me, some of the most conceited women I’ve met are four shades darker than me with a fluffy ass wrap and curl.

We are not a monolith.

For centuries, women of color have been placed in these character tropes that are one-dimensional and expected to stay there; blinding others to the truth that we come in all shapes, sizes, textures, tones, experiences, and upbringings. There is no mold we fit into, we are the mold.

It is fact that you can be down for the cause with a perm. It is fact that you don’t have to be Christian to believe that one God exists. It is fact that you can rock a suit and still back that ass up. It is fact that you can be a size 22 and flex your body into a scorpion pose. It is fact that you can come from the hood and speak proper English, and it is fact that you don’t need to be an afro-wearing, incense burning, “mother Earth” girl to believe that you can speak your life into existence.

Young brown girls are beginning to recognize their worth. They’re seeing that their reflection in the mirror is enough, that they can achieve everything they set out to accomplish. There’s no need to dumb down your greatness or waste your pretty — babydoll you can be both. There’s no need to shift your perspective to fit in, someone will get you. There’s no need to stifle your “bad and bourgie” self, ’cause there are hundreds of chicks wishing that they can be authentic just like you.

I’ve learned to embrace my eclectic caramel sundae with the syrup dripping down the cup. I’m cool with my perfect imperfections, I’ve accepted being sexually liberated, and I’m fine with everyone not liking me on and off social media. I’m glad I’ve decided to ride this magic carpet of unique. By no means would I want every brown and black girl to be like me, nor would I want them to change who they are to be accepted by me. More of our young girls need to see us walking in confidence in our skin. They need to see our diversity and be able to associate with one of us, not all of us. Contrived is not a word that should be synonymous with their self-esteem. They need to know that it’s perfectly fine to be whatever variation of self they naturally are, so that they can live another day to watch it evolve.

Dear Brown girl, don’t feel a way because you’re a different type of pretty. Those magazines you read, those pictures on social media, those images on TV are unable to capture your beauty because it is indescribable. You are majestic with your nerdy frames

messy hair
curvy and slim frame
dancer feet
awkward knees
bowed legs
brown skin in multitude
hair soft like wool
playing Xbox
painting murals
spittin’ rhymes
talkin’ code
having self.

Love you!

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ShaVaughn Elle

ShaVaughn Elle

Penning what inspires me to inspire others.