Call Me Pretty “i want to apologize to all the women i have called pretty. Before i’ve called them intelligent or brave…” -- rupi kaur
My first thought upon reading this was, “Nope. Call me pretty.” I have been called strong, brave, proud, loud, angry. I have been heralded for keeping my head up, keeping my family up, lifting an entire race on my shoulders, even as I was bent over picking cotton or scrubbing toilets. I have occasionally been tossed the bone of “intelligent”, even though I did as much as move a mountain with my research or as little as open my mouth to hold a conversation about something more than entertainment. I have gotten bonus points for ‘talking white’. Sometimes, in fact very few times, I’ve been called pretty. Things are easier now, in our post-racial society. Black women are heralded for their beauty. Our gorgeous skin that defies age without the help of Oil of Olay. Our cute, kinky curls. Our enviable figures. We are heralded, but not as a whole. The skin, the hair, the figures of praise are still the ones deemed most comfortable to the masses. The café-au-lait of Halle Berry. The quirky curls of Cree Summer. The 34-26-34 of the Brick House muse. I am none of these. The post-racial parade has missed me. The poem continues: “i am sorry i made it sound as though something as simple as what you’re born with is the most you have to be proud of”
I would love to be heralded for something as simple as what I was born with. Skin the color of coffee when there is not enough milk left. Hair that in its natural state, looks like steel wool but feels like lamb’s wool. A figure that could not be an hourglass because the flow of sand would go barely checked.
“….from now on i will say things like, you are resilient or, you are extraordinary. not because i don’t think you’re pretty. but because you are so much more than that.”
To the author, I want to say, save those words for the ones who have not heard them. Save them for the women that are so weary of being complimented, admired, aspired to that they have this to complain about. By all means, hold true to this apology to them and give them what they need. However, when it comes to me, call me pretty. I won’t hold it against you.