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I’m a Bimbo and I love it. And I mean a capital B Bimbo who rocks cheetah-print frames and cheetah-print cardigans at the same time. The cardigan goes over my sheer black top and a red 2-cups-added Miraculous Bra from Victoria’s Secret. For bottoms I either put on booty shorts or wear leggings. I top my look off with bright lipstick and tons of coats of mascara; three different tubes of lash-lengthening potions perfect my look.

I put on my trashy, super-tacky armor almost everyday in order to gain respect.

Before you laugh me off as super-shallow twit, you have to understand: As a black woman in this world, especially when dealing with the professional world, sometimes you just have to pull out your bag of tricks. My tricks include dressing “inappropriately,” smiling a lot, feigning weakness and speaking like a Valley girl.

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My summer uniform, taken at my last job. Do you notice the colorful padded bra?

What benefit does this get me? Tons. People want to be around me more because I come off as non-threatening. Men include me in their conversations, Professors call on me with amused expressions and since I initially fulfill my role as a “female,” i.e., submissive, shallow and lacking ideas, my thoughts and presence are welcomed with open arms.

This is where I use my upper hand. This inappropriately dressed girl actually has an opinion about everything.

My first opinion is that I am grossly underestimated. So while you are laughing at me, and questioning how I got here, I’m also laughing back at you.

Take, for example, that time I worked for a non-profit organization in my hometown of Cambridge. The Ivy League football players constantly spoke down to me, because you know, I am a woman and I did not attend an Ivy. One, named Greg*, used to publicly giggle whenever I spoke, even though I was his boss. I had had five years experience with the program and background education that supported the program we were both working with, but of course this was not enough.

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Me at the non-profit organization with my coworker, sans lipstick. I was constantly reprimanded for my style choices.

After a few weeks of letting Greg amuse himself at my expense, I confronted the guy during a break. I let him enjoy those weeks; I wanted to let Greg think he was getting away with belittling me. That day during break I asked him why he felt it was appropriate to mock his own boss, the boss that hired him. He replied that he found it hard to respect any women in general and that he found me particularly funny.

In a way, I wanted to applaud him for his honesty; he admitted to his own superior that he was a sexist ass-wipe. But instead I chose to be mature; I warned him if I ever heard him laughing at me again or disrespecting any female at this program just for being a female, I would have him promptly fired.

For the rest of the summer, Greg avoided me and averted his eyes whenever I looked at him. He finally realized that I actually held power over him. It probably blew his mind.

You see, life is not fair. I will without a doubt be underestimated and poorly treated because of the way I look. But I am the type of person that likes to be two steps ahead of the game. So when I go into any collegial or intellectual environment, I look dumbed-down for a bit, and then totally invert the dynamic of that same environment.

I transform from the laughing stock to the woman that everyone is intimidated by and not just because I am black.

Just ask my last English professor. Yes my skirt might have been on the short side when I met her, but that did not mean she could speak condescendingly when I asked her a question, or ignore me 98% of the time. I straightened that out the second week of that semester. We argued about Thomas Jefferson who I un-affectionately refer to as T.J (my dislike for him is another story for another time) and I won to her amazement. I quickly gained respect from both her and my peers.

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This is currently my profile picture on Facebook. Does this look like a girl currently getting her Master’s? Some people think not.

I have to admit that my Bimbo ways are a bit of a sociology project. I like to get a reaction out of people when it comes to my looks and mentally note their responses. Blame years of uniform and dress code on that. Also blame the fact that I am kind of a narcissist and semi-obsessed with myself.

When people are up in arms about the way I dress, my hairstyle at the moment, or my makeup choices, I giggle inside. Even when it’s negative, because I like to control some of the negative opinions people have about me. My best friend says that makes me manipulative. I say it gives me power.

As I type this from my formerly cheetah print-decaled laptop, I wonder if I’m doing myself more of a disservice by acting like a capital B, Bimbo just for tricks. I also wonder if any of you play games to gain respect? Do I have it all wrong or am I doing what a girl has got to do?

*Indicates that the name has been changed.

XOJane

This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more
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  • Jase

    I honestly don’t know whether you’re “going about it all wrong” but I have a good feeling that you’re not. I think this is a really honest, interesting, and informative post, so thanks and best of luck to you :)

  • wow

    Your posts although masked in narcissism and braggadocio really seem like you are coming from a place of deep insecurity and anger. I’m sure you don’t really believe that you are dressing like a hoochie because it garners you respect. Then again maybe you do believe that because sadly many of our AA sisters think the key to success and respect is by using their bodies. Let’s face it in many facets of our community strippers and chicks with silicon injected booties are what’s respected and sought after. So what’s a young sistah to do, if you can’t beat them you join them and that’s sort of what your post sounds like. You think you are turning the tables and have this jedi mind trick thing going where you feed into the negative stereotype of the african american jezebel in order to “show them” that you are much more than that. But dear, they aren’t getting that message trust me. They will play the game with you but they don’t respect you, they simply know that you are only going to get but so far up that ladder. Short skirts and skimpy tops may get you in the door but unless you plan on sleeping your way up the ranks, or becoming a video vixen, stripper, or reality tv personality your manner of dress is going to severely limit your upward mobility.

    Now if I’m wrong and you just like the attention it brings then carry on sistah but I think if you look deep you will see the that results of your “social experiment” should really be about how society’s image of african american women affects us both socially and psychologically. You are dressing provocatively to show up those who misjudge you. It is out of anger that you have to go through this extreme manner of dressing and behaving to avoid being threatening to others around you, to have to dumb yourself down in order to quietly maneuver through people and situations. You aren’t sticking it to the man though, you’re adapting to the negative images of us and trying to put a positive spin on why you do what you do. Sort of like re appropriating the n-word to a term of endearment, or having pride in being called a b-tch or a pimp. You’re taking a negative unfair image that is applied to black women and trying to give it power that it doesn’t have. Acknowledge your anger and disappointment at why you feel like you have to do this and perhaps over time you’ll come to the realization that you can’t expect others to accept you until you accept you, as you, and not as some caricature of who you think you should be.

    • Shorai

      Exactly how I felt when I read this post. I just could never have explained as well as you did. I can only say AMEN. Read on people. That’s exactly the message here.