Updated: Mar 15, 2022
Not too long ago, back when I lingered in groups and engaged in discussions, there was a discussion in my favorite group on what we as black women wish more people appreciated about us. Apart from the typical comments about our curves, lips and resilience in the face of adversity, many black women admitted to wanting to be recognized for their vulnerability, creativity and womanhood. How sensitive they are and various other things I could totally relate to as a black woman. I too secretly wish people saw my vulnerabilities so that I received a fraction of the support I had grown accustom to giving to everyone else. However, all that not withstanding I found it difficult to realize what about me I wished someone noticed me for. I struggled trying to conceptualize what a person could point out about myself that would brighten my day.
Over the years I have gotten compliments on my appearance every now and again. I've been told I have a nice figure or that I was "pretty" here and there. However, though these compliments were received well by me, they didn't do anything. To me, compliments on my appearance are equivalent to pricey Christmas cards. They're nice, I may keep them for a while because I appreciate the craftmanship of the intricate little card, but I am likely to throw them away eventually as it does not improve upon my life in any way. I realized people flattering me in such a way, didn't do anything for me emotionally. Though it is appreciated because I understand that to some, I am intimidating, so approaching me with compliments may have been a risk on their part and took some courage. But most days when I get this sort of recognition, it simply brings a brief smile to my face, only for more pressing thoughts within my imaginative mind to cancel out the fleeting satisfaction of shallow flattery. Now before anyone get their panties or boxers in a bunch and cry that "Women are never satisfied"(a fucking shame I even have to disclose this) let me reiterate...
I am not saying complimenting my appearance isn't appreciated. What I am saying is the appreciation is there and solid, but the ego boost that comes with it is fleeting. This is due to me knowing attractiveness has gotten me no where in life. So complimenting me on something I don't necessarily value will not have a profound effect on me as a human being. Does that make sense? Good. Moving on...
I realized that I was weird in this way when I was hanging with my girls and we talked about dating. Now I have been in a relationship for nearly a decade. When I was on the market I absolutely despised dating. My female friends were put off by my sheer disgusts with the act as they seemed to love dating. One friend said to me,
"Are you kidding?! Don't you like a man taking you out to dinner, making you laugh and complimenting you through out the night and sharing his company."
To that I replied, "I rather be home cooking something to my taste and not being bored to death with small talk."
I hate small talk btw...
We then got into a discussion about enjoying people, more over men, adorning us with compliments. I can see the appeal, but I noticed in that instance that though compliments on my appearance wasn't nearly as often as my other female friends, when it is received it hardly does anything for me. Now I'm sure this has something to do with having issues with self esteem and believing I am some misshaped golem for the first half of my life. But these days I'm more comfortable in my own skin and think I'm quite cute if I were to be perfectly honest. So I know my lack of interest in flattery these days, has little to do with my issues with self esteem complications. Something else was going on and I wanted to explore it some more.
When that aforementioned discussion in AABW came up I really wanted to sit down and explore what someone could notice about me that would give me that boost everyone was talking about. I also wanted to explore why a simple,
Only elicited a feeling of gratitude followed by a very slight twinge of happiness that was fleeting at best. What can a person say to me that gets me all giddy and happy? And why that particular bit of recognition is more important to me than the praise on my appearance?
So I thought about it... And thought about it... Then someone read my book or short story and left a lovely comment... And then I thought about some more ... lol.... And then I noticed I felt really good about myself all of sudden... Lol that's when I realized, something about a person recognizing my work, my art and the things I produce is what really gave me that boost. Especially when it's someone I'm attracted to. If a person I'm attracted to "hearts" one my photos, I think to myself,
"Oh cool. That's nice. :)"
But when they love my writing and can actually pin point details that stuck out to them, I get all stupid and giddy like a school girl. There was a woman I was crushing on who gave me a very descriptive compliment on my writing and what about it drew her in. When I tell you I nearly lost my shit. Her attentiveness to the details I worked so hard to express in my work was such a self esteem boost for me. I walked taller that day. Same can be said about the few fetlife hotties who have commented on my writing. Thank you! You know who you are wink.
Once I understood what a person can say that will legitimately boost my mood I started to ask myself, why was this important to me? Why being complimented on my outward appearance failed to get the same results as say someone reading my stories and complimenting me on that? What was the difference? According to the outside world, as a woman, I should thrive on attention where the focal point of said attention is on my looks. I found myself asking the same stupid question I constantly ask myself...
What's wrong with me?
Why was it more of a turn on for someone I may have a passing fancy for, loving my writing than loving my photos?
I think I figured it out...
Whether I am attractive to people or not means very little to me. Everything I have in this life now (even my husband cause he isn't attracted to air headed women) was not because I was received as beautiful. What ever beauty I have, or grew into having, has literally done nothing for me. And to be quite honest, for most of my life I have gotten the message that in regards to attractiveness I am an outlier. In other words, I wasn't seen as a swan until much later in life and even then I got mixed signals that contradict the idea that I was ever a swan to begin with. I operated outside of the hierarchy of female attractiveness and relied heavily on my intellect, humor, strength, style and personality. Much of who I am, the strides and accomplishments I have made were due to everything but my outward appearance. In fact, I accomplished what I have in spite of my inability to be the conventional beauty in the eyes of the people around me. Therefore, I learned from early that none of that shit matters. It's gotten me nothing and no where so why allow it to have power over me?
Then I realized, my writing is a true reflection of who I am. This body is in ownership of me, so who is the person piloting this body? Think on that for a sec. Anyways, I try my best to not write fluffy garbage. Even in my flash writes. I will obsess over character development and depth for days. I will try to put as much as I keep bottled inside, in my writing as best I can. When I write erotica especially, you are getting a glimpse of my sexual energy and when a person shows interest in that, or praises that, that communicates to me that you are attracted to my sexual energy... And that does things to my body.
May explain why when women contact me in secret and swoon over my male characters, even in their complicated humanized state, it puts a sly little grin on my face. These women haven't the slightest clue they are swooning over parts of me. Same for some of my male readers despite them being few and far in between. When they express that my writing triggers something primal in them or that a particular scene had them tossing and turning at night, that thrills me. Because again, they are unaware that it is me in my truest essence that's keeping them up at night. I put pieces of myself in my writing, and nameless no body on Amazon,com aside, I take pride in those whose loins I reach without them even knowing my real name. I'll admit, it's a power trip for me. I sometimes reread some of my work, mainly to imagine where I would go with the plot. Other times, I reread it whilst imagining myself as a mere stranger reading it. I put myself in the shoes of my audience. I think about how they may feel. Are they conflicted about liking this character? What did this scene make them feel? Do they feel anything at all. These questions excite me and motivate me to perfect my craft. Partly why I take so fucking long to finish a novella T_T. These imagined simulations are exiting for me! And the thought that someone can see the world through my eyes and bring themselves to say,
"Wow, that's amazing! You're amazing"
Is the ultimate form of validation. I couldn't ask for anything better. No amount of,
or "Damn girl that ass."
or "Sis, you're so pretty!"
Compares to a person reading my stories and discussing in detail what made my a work a page turner. That my words spoke to them on a deeper level. When you're reading my stories, you're reading me. That's really personal and intimate. When you see my photos that's hardly the surface and it's nothing I really worked towards, it's just something that is. My writing is all of me, and when someone feels a connection be it arousal, happiness, sadness, fear or what have you, you're connecting yourself with me. And
that's really all we want in this life...