When I was growing up in my church in Detroit, there was a young lady in the youth choir who always had a nasty attitude. At the time, she was in high school and a couple of years older than I. Even at a young age she always seemed miserable and complained about everything. She would always pick on me, and I never had any idea why. One day during choir rehearsal, she just flat out told me she didn’t like me. She said I was “Bougee” and fake. She said I thought I was cute.
Hearing the girl say she did not like me hurt me to my core. I had no idea why she didn’t like me. I could not understand how at twelve years old, someone could be Bougee or fake. What did or does being Bougee and fake really mean? I wondered. I was only being myself. For years after that moment, I could still hear and feel her spitting those words at me like stones. As time passed, I heard the word “Bougee” over and over again in different settings or situations, but the intent was the same. I would not only hear the word to describe myself, but other women who appeared to be smart, ambitious, and attractive. After hearing this time and time again, I began to think there was something wrong with being just who I was.
Just in case you’ve never heard the word “Bougee” or can’t imagine how the word is meant as an insult, I’ll give you a lesson in Urban Vernacular 101. “Bourgeois” or “bou-gee” (boo`-zhie), as it is pronounced in the urban vernacular (slang), is a term used to describe arrogant, upscale, or snobbish characteristics. Bougee is typically used as a derogatory statement suggesting you are “uppity” or trying to be in a higher social status than you deserve. During my youth, people often referred to me as being “Bougee” because of my outward appearance and mannerisms. The truth is that I was far from “Bougee.” I was battling low self-esteem, along with a poor perception of what I thought I looked like.
Over time I realized the young lady did not have a problem with me, but with who she was at that point in her own life. I am an adult now and the word “Bourgeois” or “Bougee” still exists, but my feelings about the words have changed. I resolved that if being Bourgeois means I am confident, intelligent, God-fearing, educated, strong, sexy, and an extraordinary woman, then I guess I am unapologetically authentically Bourgeois.
You may not be for everyone and that's perfectly ok. As long as you're enough for yourself and those that love you without limits, the other great pretenders just don't matter.