The Maladaptive Schema of Shadeism

Stop being so self conscious they say, ain’t nobody paying attention to you…
And then they turn right around and say, however, why are you outside looking like you have no home training?! Present yourself as if you were a celebrity, even if you are just running into a gas station for chips and gum at 8 AM…bitch.
Whew the weight we carry…
And the shit is counter intuitive and confusing.
Nobody cares but look your best.
It doesn’t matter but you have to represent. The fuckery of it all- nobody is concerned but clearly, everyone is. It is nobody’s business but obviously they all have something to say.

The fuckery is in session.

This is not a new debate in my world, I’m a black female who was born in Indiana in the 70’s. I was so terrified by the time I was 20 to go out and even check the mail without being fully dressed and presentable, that in the event I had to be outside and couldn’t look as stellar as possible, I was in tears and in all sorts of pain hoping not to be seen. You cannot imagine how horrible it feels for someone to tell you that if you are casual and in public you are low down, classless, useless and probably homeless- things that have no correlation to one another and don’t matter at all if your skin is a different hue. Those farmer kids where I am from wore dirty ass overalls everywhere and no one batted an eye. 4H Kids would show up shoeless with runny noses and not one person shook their head in disbelief. We’re all supposed to be equal but are we? I can’t even count how many times I have attended what was supposed to be a business affair or a black tie shindig and some people who didn’t look like me showed up in shorts and flip flops and no one questioned their character, value or worth at all. The People of Walmart memes, where humans make fun of other humans for being out in public wearing unusual and sometimes ill fitting garments are very rarely if ever people who look like me because when it comes to mathematics there are simply more of them here than there are of us. It’s just a funny joke if they get caught and truly no one automatically assumes they are unsavory or criminals or detestable. I don’t have that luxury in this world yet FOR SOME ODD REASON….One thing I noticed about those people though is they didn’t let other’s opinions bother them- they knew their own worth and value to themselves and an outsider’s unwarranted perspective was irrelevant. If we (chicks who look like me) ignore some older lady gently nudging us in an airport to tell us she doesn’t approve of our headwrap in public not only are we disrespectful but rude PEOPLE. When I say the fuckery, I mean it! All of these things I was forced to adhere to as a child, stuck. I was convinced that if I was in public looking entirely too casual that I would never find a partner to support me. It started to become, “I have to be approved of by everyone even if it is exhausting,” and if you don’t think that takes a toll on your mental health, then you don’t understand mental health. Women get raped and get told well you shouldn’t have had on that skirt. Black women get abused or assaulted or killed in their own bedrooms and nobody cares all of a sudden again…. hmmmm….

When I moved to California, my boyfriend at the time would get furious with me that everywhere we went, even if it was an inconsequential and short journey that I had to put on makeup and earrings with matching accessories. He told me I know you are from Indiana, but here in California, you can get robbed or killed out here dressing like you think you are better than everybody else. You are drawing entirely too much attention to yourself, getting dolled up all the time when we aren’t going anywhere important. Nobody is looking at you to give you compliments, they are looking at you to see if your dumb ass pulls some cash out since you’re dressed like you are trying to flaunt money. I was so fucking confused and of course I cried for months because I didn’t understand what he was asking me to do- all my life I was told that when you are outside or with your man or just anywhere, you are a representation of your family, of him etc.. and that if you want the cops to ignore you and for people to not be wary of you causing trouble, that you needed to always look the highest level of presentable. This never allowed me to be regular, to have fun and I was always on guard. Also my own opinion of myself was never even considered as an option for determining how I chose to show up to get a new roll of scotch tape at Walgreens. And trust me, this isn’t something that all men agree on, especially if they want to sleep with you but haven’t yet. If a person finds you desirable that is mostly based on appearance and they can see through costume accessories as well as a kerchief and yoga pants if what they are looking at is something they want to dig into.

So why do I have to do this? If I’m normal and regular like everyone else why should the cops assume I am a threat if I have on houseshoes? If I’m normal and regular, why should people think I’m going to cause trouble if I have on a hair scarf? I’ve yet to hear anybody admonish men who wear do-rags to keep their waves together in public, but they most certainly advise them to pull up their pants and put on belts and who turns around and defends them without flinching? PEOPLE WHO LOOK LIKE ME. How come seeing brown people do anything that would show they can be normal and not extraordinary all the goddamn time offends everyone, including other brown people? I don’t have any answers but as soon as I got permission from that ex to be more casual out, I certainly did and I will never look back to the anxiety and nervousness I used to feel walking around worried constantly if someone would see me and think negative thoughts about me based on the parts of my appearance I could control. It is kind of liberating to just throw a sweater on to take out your trash without worrying about taking off your head scarf, or to go to the liquor store for a six pack real quick in your flip flops and lounge pants- LIKE EVERYONE ELSE DOES- without having to fear. I shouldn’t have to look like a supermodel, or be up to anyone’s standards just to fucking exist in this world especially when I’m surrounded by people wearing uggs and sweatpants, sloppy greasy top knots, dirty torn tee-shirts and everything but a full on houserobe at the casino where a live band is playing!
These people outside and within the group are judging you on your appearance regardless- we all do it to each other all of the time- but this is more severe because ultimately, underneath the admonishment, they do not like or respect you as an individual at all. You are at worst, a vagrant no one thinks is attractive unless you are parading around looking like them and at best, a stupid idiotic child who needs to be corrected on every front less you offend their sensibilities. And if you succumb to their opinions about your appearance not only will it change,( NOW YOU HAVE TO HAVE POLISHED NAILBEDS AND LONG LASHES OR ELSE) but it further perpetuates their myth that they can deign to you how you should behave and look because they are the authority on your presentability which you should not control yourself apparently and how they think you look is under their jurisdiction and control and is the same as your respectability.

THE. FUCKERY.

So when they tell you, you need to look like this, or don’t abide by those rules, follow these new ones I have just created for you brown girl, just remember, no one is living in your body but you. Nobody controls your body but you, people will judge you no matter what you do and evidently, they judge people whose skin tones are like yours more so than other people for no particular reason and as I much as I don’t want you to get used to it… be prepared for it by wearing headphones when you run out for a sec, keeping your chin up and ignoring any external opinions that attempt to invalidate you on the basis of someone’s preference outside of your own. Lay those burdens down you don’t have to carry that weight anymore, sis.
They aren’t trying to help you, they are just making it obvious that your mere existence EMBARASSES them. And whose problem is that? Exactly. Fuck them.

Quiet as it is kept these mofos are tanning 3 shades too dark, getting their hair cornrowed and dreadlocked, adding fillers to their lips and asses and breasts SO THEY CAN LOOK MORE LIKE YOU- TRUST ME- as soon as the heat dies down of you being outside with a bonnet on, lo and behold, the street bonnets by Gucci hit the market and everyone is wearing them PROUDLY.

Fuckery at it’s finest.

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