Friday, May 09, 2008


now that the sun has come out in portland-albeit intermittently, i've pulled out my summer gear. i also have been out shopping. i didn't realize how truly anal i am about what i wear. when i decide what to wear or what to buy, about 90 percent of my decision is based on whether it makes me NOT look ghetto-fabulous. when most women are paranoid about whether what they wear makes their butt look huge, i'm paranoid that i'll look ghetto.

i can't stand that look of--well the look of black women that have their nails all done, their toes all done, their hair all done, wearing the most trendy, Forever21-style, borderline-club-gear on. the immediate impression i get is that they probably don't have a dime to their name.

so i'm constantly walking that fine line of trying to look tastefully stylish, but not too stylish for fear of falling into that "look" category. i didn't realize how much i was overthinking what i wear without even realizing it, until today, when i almost made my child late for school because of it. only then did it finally dawn on me-that in the back of my mind, i've been having this conversation in my head about how un-ghetto-fabulous i want to look. all the stereotypes of black women depict us with our hair fresh from the salon pressed bone-straight, with tight, provocative clothes, gold rings on our fingers, and long, acrylic nails. and i alway cringe when i see the black girls looking like that. i always think to myself : don't they know? don't they look in the mirror and see the stereotype? are they really that clueless?

so the complicated part is that i don't want to look like i have no style, but of course i want to look good. and everyone that i know with money doesn't "look" like they have money. but you can always tell good quality clothing. i would say my style is somewhere along the lines of Abercrombie and fitch meets the Gap. sorta. so i guess i just try to keep it simple but stylish, forgetting the acrylic nails (those were long forgotten) and the big gawdy earrings. i like my toes, clean and neat with a light coat of sheer pink.

i know that people will form whatever opinions they want to about a black woman regardless of what we wear, but if i can help it, i will.


Anonymous said...

Your blog is very interesting. To this entry I have to say it's sad how much you worry about what white people think. This was something I used to deal with as well. So much so that I wouldn't even use terms like "hey girl". Not because it was bad, but because it was too "black". I didn't want any indication of being one of "those".Then one day I asked myself why. Who appointed them the designers of all standards worth meeting, so what if someone like acrylic nails. It's not my thing, but so what? What's the worst that can happen to me? I think your world is too defined by race and whiteness. As someone of mixed background the worst thing you can do is impart to your child what seems to be your inferiority complex. They will grow to hate the very part of themselves that you represent. Constantly worrying that they are not tainted by "those" blacks. Relax girl!

636lover said...

"to be black or not to be... THAT is the question." I dress a certain way around certain people. i keep my hands in full view and i am nervous when leaving stores where i haven't bought anything b/c i feel that the clerks are watching me thinking "oh there's another no-good black person, i bet she's going to steal." WTF?! i've never stolen anything in my life! and i know it's in my head. i cringe when i go in the walmart in the black neighborhood and the candy aisle is littered with wrappers and opened bags of Reisins. I also cringe when i see the ghetto girls walking in packs of 3 or more in the mall looking all fried, dyed, and layed to the side, yet they are only about 12yo. For me it's not the dress, it's the attitudes they have. Sneering, cat-eyed and rudely pushing their way through the mall crowds. i try to smile at them but they never return it, and i want to turn and ask them "what makes us (BW) feel this need to hurt each other, show anger, degrade each other?" but then the moment has passed and i can only shake my head and keep walking. these are the girls described when i ask white guys why they don't date more black women. when i go through these same moments you described i stop, take a breath, and remind myself that i am an individual, not an ambassador for the Black Nation. I speak only for myself.

Shani said...

Often it is this fear of coming across as ghetto fabulous that represses our creative spirits. I get frustrated with many black women who are clearly silenced by outside impositions, and the result is they have no voice, no evidence of self-expression, at least in their appearance. They end up looking conservative, censored, and repressed.

I live in Portland, too. With all the hippie folk and the grunge kids walking around, should you really be caring about what you look like or what they think? Part of the appeal of living in the Pacific Northwest is that you don't have all the fashion hype of the East Coast and California. You can just be yourself. Be free as these folks are free.

Anonymous said...

I always find your blogs interesting, in a large part as it seems you have very little exposure to black people in general and therefore have formed a very negative experience, despite the fact that you are black yourself.

If we met, you and I would likely not speak. Not because I would not speak to you, but because you would not speak to me.

I am black and come from an upper class background, but I have spent time with the needy and indigent of all races and have found manner of dress has nothing to do with the value of the human being.

My style is more Charles Nolan or Nicole Miller and Chloe, but someone would still look at me and form an opinion based on my color. That is their problem, certainly not mine. And it is not yours either, whether you dress as conservatively as the Queen of England or "ghetto fabulous" you will be judged on your color.

I don't live in Portland, but I have been traveling to Portland since the early 1990's for weeks at a time. I have always found the people to be sweet kind, and open hearted.

Perhaps because you feel uncomfortable there, you project your feelings on to the situations and people around you. It is something we all do.

I hope that you have more exposure to other blacks and find that we are just as diverse in our backgrounds, education, and wealth as other races.

Anonymous said...

I say have fun with your clothes and makeup, your nails and whatever. The great thing about them is they are all temporary. None of it is forever. Be straight one day and crazy the next. If you don't have fun in this lifetime, when will you? I don't care what color you are.

Mind, it's true that people will talk about you if it looks like you are having fun. It pisses them off! But that's the case no matter what color you are. Heck, I am past 50 and wearing Forever 21 and thrift and vintage and no doubt someone is talking too. Oh well! I am a white girl and when I was a punk plenty of people laughed at me - black and white. Don't listen!

Anonymous said...

I say have fun with your clothes and makeup, your nails and whatever. The great thing about them is they are all temporary. None of it is forever. Be straight one day and crazy the next. If you don't have fun in this lifetime, when will you? I don't care what color you are.

Mind, it's true that people will talk about you if it looks like you are having fun. It pisses them off! But that's the case no matter what color you are. Heck, I am past 50 and wearing Forever 21 and thrift and vintage and no doubt someone is talking too. Oh well! I am a white girl and when I was a punk plenty of people laughed at me - black and white. Don't listen!

Anonymous said...

oops soory about that - eva

jazzy said...

Just dress like you and let them dress the way they want to dress. It grosses me out how you lump all girls who dress that way as "ghetto" really does, but let's just move on.

It must suck to care about other people's opinions so much that you can't even dress the way you want to. If you were comfortable with yourself you wouldn't have to worry about it so much...I didn't realize grown women still had so many insecurities...I thought those kind of went a way as you grew up and got more comfortable with yourself...

Okay, okay...I'm not trying to be mean because I can relate to you. When I was in high school, I went to a predominately White school. I was one of those punky black girls...or I tried to be. Basically, I tried to be the exact opposite of the girls you described...they weren't ghetto, but they didn't dress like the preppy white chicks. I'm about to be a sophomore at Howard now and, honestly, to hell what random strangers (white people or otherwise) or students have to say about what I wear. I mix my edgy style with Forever 21 pieces...I spend my money to make me happy not to get approval from other people. What a waste of time and money.

Aly Cat 121 said...

I think we've all gone thru periods of being worried on how others may view us. And then we got over it, or at least try too.

If you're uncomfortable in your own skin it shows whether you're wearing Guess or a Wal-Mart brand.

Anonymous said...

I understand where you are coming from, TBG but honestly? White folks - any folks for that matter -are going to judge you regardless of what you are wearing or how you wear your hair. As a black woman with adoptive white parents and grew up in an all white community, trust me. Oh, and having a university degree and a 'good' job, speaking proper English really doesn't mean shit.

What bothers me are the black folks who judged me when I wore my hair natural, when they found out what type of music i liked and most horrific was when I was ostrasized because of my family.

Like the commenter above, I think that if we ever met in person you would probably be one of those women who routinely give me the 'fuzzy eye' (I've been reading your blog for awhile now) but I just had to say DON'T buy into that crap. If people are going to view you as those 'ghetto girls' they are going to do it, regardless.

Musings said...

LOL, sorry I just can't help but laugh. TBG, you really spend WAY too much time thinking. Nobody cares. Really. I can totally relate though, I don't want to be perceived as 'ghetto', whatever that means. I do know that it isn't just black 'ghetto'. White, Hispanic, Asian they all have ghetto too. What's funny is that I observe other races, I know they are trying not to be ghetto/trashy but end up emulating the ghetto/trashiness of another race...I guess it is all relative.
I don't care what people think. I keep my hands and feet neatly manicured and get my hair (natural, no weave or relaxer) done regularly. I know I look put together but definately not "ghetto". I learned a long time ago about quality, classic cloting. Funny because I work with professionals field who make 2 times more than I do (and I make a nice salary) and they dress HORRIBLY! So it really doesn't matter huh?

Justine said...

So lemme get this straight? It's NOT ok to dress in what is perceived as "black" but it's ok to dress in what is perceived as "white"? I guess white is the standard of beauty and fashion.

michelle said...

Wow! I guess u prefer to dress like an uptight nerd (Abercrombie and Fitch). LOL. It's ok to not like weaves, acrylic nails, hoop earrings etc. but I don't understand why u would go to the other extreme by dressing like an old stiff librarian. Ok, I am exaggerating but u get my point. Loosen up and enjoy life. Life is too short to be worried abt how racist ppl view you.

That Girl Tam said...

Funny...I just turned 36 and I haven't concerned myself with fashion since I was in my 20s. I've resolved the fact that I can't go back and time and be "fly" like I used to I make attempts to preserve my sexy by creating my own style. My husband on the other hand...he's got to have the freshest gear, the latest "in" items and such...I keep trying to remind him that we're not kids anymore and to leave the "fresh" look for our children!

Great blog!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...


jcanguy said...

Why does it bother people to express their identity? Cardiowhore, if that lady in the storage align herself with her image and feels comfortable wearing all those jewellery it shouldn't bother you. That is called stereotyping; putting people in certain classification based on race and it is just wrong. If it was a white punk kid would you be as offended by her, or is becuase its a black person you feel like they are suppose to know their place? What ever happen to freedom of thoughts and expression?

Marian said...

I just stumbled upon your blog for the first time...I totally understand what you're saying. I know how I SHOULD think about myself but it's hard to make that thought pattern realized. I'm a bi-racial woman..(half filipino, half black) and race has played such a huge part of my life. Where do I fit in, am I black enough for the black people but are the white people not gonna hang around me because they can't relate. And like you, I haven't really been around a ton of black people to feel normal. I live in Seattle and most of my friends are white. And it really doesn't matter if you're mixed, because you're still gonna be viewed as a black girl. And I need to learn how to be that confident woman. I want my kids to not struggle with race and feeling less than...but again, it's a journey. Everyone could sit all day saying how you should think but in the end, it's your journey in self-development and your blog is definitely relatable to many! :)

imjustme. said...

oh wow. i kinda thought i was the only black girl who'd ever felt this way. im 100% black but im constantly told that i talk,look,sound,and even dress like a white girl. like, okayyy what is that supposed to mean? dont I look black to you? i can really identify with the dressinig issue. my favorite stores are american eagle, old navy, aboercrombie, bannana republic and ESPECIALLY gap. i just dont wanna look GHETTO FABOLOUS, yet i still embrace my whole culture. love your blog! i can totally relate


Musings said...

I think there are many black girls who think like tbc but are afraid say what she says. It is a journey to self as marian said. I am not at the end of my journey by any stretch, but I am feeling much more comfortable in my traveling clothes....I spent way too much time worrying about what people, white people in particular thought about me. I really don't think they care and if they do....SO WHAT? It's funny, I grew up as the 'only', I am the 'only' in my profession (or 1 of very few), so you would almost think I would care...But I don't. I won't lie though, I have to keep it real. GAP, Old Navy, JCrew all the way!

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Lisa said...

TBG, I really wish you didn't have kids.

You are truly a mess.*smh*

Anonymous said...

You know I've been reading all of your blogs and I've discovered a few things:

1. All but two blogs has race as its main subject.

2. You are obsessed with what white people think.

3. You are obsessed with what white people have.

4. You wish you weren't black. If you could you would've stripped all color from your body years ago.

That being said TBC, you have the guts to say what your shortcomings are and I have some respect for that. However, my patience grows thin for those who put their issues out there but make no attempt to change or grow. I see no proof of that in your blogs. Why don't you go to an "ethnic event", make a trip to an AA something! EXPOSE YOURSELF TO YOUR HISTORY WOMAN!!!

taylor L said...

I totally know what you mean. :P

I do hate it when women wear long acrylic nails, long hair weaves, and club gear. I think it's a just a trashy look, because I can easily see a white girl in a trashy t shirt, long acrylic nails, high heels and a pony tail to be to be just as horrible. Except they're not called ghetto. They're called white trash, or trailer trash.

I really think you have to chill ma'am. Just relax and do what ya do. :P
It takes effort to look trashy, so if youre in the A&F/Gap zone, then you're fine.

i cant be defined said...

Damn. reading your blogs has made me realize that too much things are defined by race. I think you are just too judgemental. to define weaves and acrylic nails and tight clothing as ghetto fab is ridiculous. First of all there are people of all races who wear this type of clothing. To consider yourself stylish because you wear Gap/ A&F is ridiculous as well. just because you buy from there does not mean the outfits look good or are even appropiate to wear. Fashion is fashion and people use it to express themselves. You is just narrow minded.For you to define good style by how expensive the clothing is, is just plain stupid. Since when is weave only worn by black women? there are women of other races who wear extensions and wigs many of which work in professional environments. Do people who have naturally long nails and polish them offend you as well? I'm sorry but that post was just ridiculous, but if thats how you feel... it just saddens me to know there are people who feel the way you do. I hope that i'm not bringing you down it's just you amaze me, that's all

gloomgurl said...

ha ha. ghetto girls make me cringe too. they always gave me a hard time in high school, because i talked proper english and dressed in goth clothes. i was kind of scared of them in high school, but now i'm just disgusted by them. but i guess you wouldn't like the way i dress either. i'm in my twenties and i dress like a emo/punk teenager sometimes, and sometimes i dress prep/glam. But i do hate those ghetto fabulous girls. whenever i go to the mall or walmart, i see them traveling in packs! it's kind of gross.

Razzaq said...

Unbelievable, the more I read the more hang-ups i come across. I dont wear trendy hip-hop gear simply because I am a grown man. I dont look down at any other brother that does. Nor, do I sing the praises of the brother that wears Polo, Brooks Brothers, Born or Territory Ahead. To each his own. Its clothes. We are individuals. Wow!

Anonymous said...

oh my oh my oh my... everytime I read a new post I think "no, it can't go even further"... But it DOES! I thought I had low self esteem, but here, this is too much. This blog is so entertaining. Can't belive what I read.


Anonymous said...

well wow, i have to say that i do the exact same thing with finding something to wear. i get soo ridiculously anal about not looking ghetto. but then i realized that so what if i happen to look ghetto. why am i trying to please white people and show them that im not like those ghetto black people fulfilling the stereotype (not to seem racist and all)? that shouldn't i be standing up for my people and showing that not all ghetto black people are like the stereotype? i mean, you can slowly show that not all black people are like that. SCREW what white people think (im not saying that i hate white people), its just sad how we black people still struggle with ourselves till this day.

Anonymous said...

I can understand exactly where you're coming from with this post. Whenever I walk outside I am not only (insert name); i am that black girl. Whenever I wear a skirt I will be judged, whenever I wear jeans I will be judged, and god forbid I go outside looking like I just woke up or just threw something on. When i'm not "on" I feel like a stereotype. By "on" I mean happy looking, clothes are neat clean and well picked out, not looking like I try to hard, not looking over materialistic, not looking too ghetto, looking like I care but not too much, not seeming stereotypical. Making sure that I never frown or sound a little too loud, or walk with my hips a little too swayed, or move my hands a little to much. If only other races of women understood. As a black girl you can't just walk outside and throw something on. Unless you want to be harshly judged you can't just go outside with your hair all over the place and a stain on your clothes. If you have one off day or minute for that matter you will be the stereotypical loud, angry, black woman. If only people could get this.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this blog is very entertaining. You are one insecure person and I hope that one day you will find your way. As black women, we need to stop thinking about what white people are thinking about us. Trust me, they are NOT thinking about you.

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