I have never been good at receiving a compliment. I always [without thought] deflect. It was [is] so bad that friends and family would stop my deflections and tell me to “just say thank you”. If you tell me how good I look in a dress I will immediately start telling you about the three pairs of spanx it took for me to get into it. If you tell me that you like my eyes I will immediately start talking about how I think I need glasses. If you tell me you like my shoes then you may hear a soliloquy about how they might be cute but they are definitely not comfortable. I can’t help it. So yesterday I am at a cookout [“barbecue” for my non east coast peeps] and a conversation went down like this:
Them: “You are so pretty”
Me: “Who me? I’m aigggghhhhht”
Them: [chuckling] “Gurrrllll, you know that you’re more than aigghttt.”
Me: “If you say so.”
Them: “And you changed your hair. I love it long like this.”
Me: “It’s a wig. And just so you know, if the wind blows a little too hard to the east you won’t be saying how ‘pretty’ I am then”[blank stare].
We both ended up filled with giggles but it made me question why I find it difficult to receive a compliment about physical attributes. In part I think it is because my mother always told me that I was pretty. She explained that she was telling me so that it would not be a novelty when someone else told me. Especially with some of these [and I’m not bashing] men out here who think a compliment warrants a conversation or even more. It is flattery, at best. If you, however, have pushed the mute button on the superficial flattery the only way you can be moved or motivated is if someone speaks of something with substance; character. How you look can only take you so far. Your perceived beauty may get you in the door but then what? It will be overshadowed by how smart or not smart you are? Are you honest? Are you loyal? Are you an asshole? Are you a shell; void of all that is truly attractive? Who you are speaks volumes over what you look like.
This topic may seem trivial to some but I am about to make it real for you --- for our girls. Putting emphasis on looks is why we have our girls and [sadly] some grown ass women [side eye] posting pictures of themselves half [or completely] naked on social media [teeth suck]. Somebody told them that that stupid ISH was “cute”. Somebody told them that they were “hot”. Somebody told them that they were “sexy”. Some yo told them that they were “pretty”. I just watched a documentary on how these young girls get tricked into the multi-billion dollar sex trade industry right here in our United States. It typically starts with some predator telling these ill equipped girls that they are [you guessed it] pretty. They incessantly crave attention; the compliments. Like a moth to a flame they were drawn to the novelty of being viewed instead of the nuance of being seen. They have not been equipped to know the difference. Do you? Well, I do. I also know that when your looks dissipate or should the wind blow in the wrong direction the same individuals who build you up will tear you down if your foundation is rooted in all things shallow. Do not get me wrong here. There is nothing wrong with a good compliment. There is nothing wrong with a little flattery. There is nothing wrong with a sexy picture posting here and there to re-enforce you got it or still got it [lip curl]. But if the euphoric feeling that you get from all the quick attention is all you “got” then you have nothing. You will soon find your motivation is to seek attention based on how you look instead of who you really are and this [my friends] is a dangerous neighborhood. It makes you easy prey, susceptible to bullshit [sorry no other way to put that] and open to social disaster. True magnetism is drawn by the merits of ones character. The longevity of your dream job, that new relationship and/or friendship are predicated on all things internal; your character --- who you really are. I tend to think I am pretty amazing. That is my draw.
I am not downing receiving compliments. Getting them makes you feel good. Giving them shows you are okay with making others feel good. How you receive a compliment is your business. I [as I stated earlier] deflect. I understand that if I receive your compliment and internalize it then would I not put myself in a position to have to receive your criticism and internalize that too? You know me! I like to make things simple for myself. Your thoughts of me [either way] are of no consequence. That way when my wig blows off and my buckwheat braids are exposed [definitely ain’t pretty] --- we may all get a good laugh. You may think, “Ewwww! This chick is not that cute without her wig”. And for a brief moment you will be correct. I will [however] pick up my tresses, simply brush that bad boy off and plop it right back on my head [twist twist] and continue to be the awesome me I am. No harm no foul. The truth of the matter is that I am not always pretty. You would definitely know this if you were a fly on my wall [wide eyes]. I am, however, the same person with or without accentuations so, with that, I am always me. I wonder [pause] how many other folks can say that. Who are you [really] when your wig blows off?
Do you want more from India L. Trotter? Like her on fanpage on Facebook by clicking here so that you will receive updates on her postings for BlankStareCorner.com, GirlTiniLive's the Pointed Circle and her work as Philadelphia's Frugal Living Examiner on Examiner.com.