Dumbing Down For Love: Are Women Dimming Their Light To Let Others Shine?

I don't think there is a day that goes by that the state of black love/relationships is not discussed/debated on my Twitter timeline. The conversations tend to be redundant and circular, providing little to no new information or insight. Yet, a tweet from last week in this general context has been sitting in the back of mind, continually churning the wheels of analysis in my brain.

The tweet generally claimed that women tend to dumb themselves down to appear attractive to men. My initial response to this statement was "Uh uh! Not me," but as I saw multiple women agreeing with it, I decided to remain mum and read their corroborative tweets instead . I still hold my initial thought, because I have not once felt that dimming my light to let another shine would be beneficial to me in any way.

Growing up, I never felt that I was the prettiest girl. I was and am certain that I'm not another Josephine Baker or Vanessa Williams in the making. However, I was aware that I possessed a certain level of wit and intelligence that would help me stand out from the masses. My parents, realizing that my mind was sharper than a whip, pushed me to strive for knowledge and excellence in every way possible. Such support paid off when I graduated Valedictorian in High School, earning almost a full scholarship to study at a private university. Before I started my studies at Fordham, my mother always stressed the importance of finding someone who is my equal. She would repeat over and over again that the surest way for me to kill the mind that God had given me would be to become involved with a man who felt threatened by it.

And so, as I embarked in the journey that is my love life, appreciation and support of my intelligence became one of the main things I looked for in a potential mate. I knew that if a man could not love and challenge my mind there really would be no future for us. Given all of this, I suppose you may now see why I went against the grain on that particular tweet. I'm not saying that I have never compromised myself to keep the attention of an undeserving man, but it has not been in the way that was described on Twitter.

In our society, we're taught that we have to be everything but ourselves to not end up in that "horrid" state of singleness. A pretty face is pleasant to look at, but we all know that beauty easily becomes a nuisance when the possessor of such genetic perfection doesn't have an iota of sharp cognitive capabilities. I know that I am fortunate to have been raised to see my intelligence as a gift and not a curse. But, it is never to let for other women to know this as well. We shouldn't make excuses or feign modesty for the intelligence we have been bestowed with. Instead, we owe it to ourselves and to others to share what we know, to teach and learn from one another.Besides, no woman should stifle her brilliance solely to garner a man who probably doesn't deserve her to begin with.

Valerie Jean-Charles is a 23 year old community servant and writer in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a BA in Political Science from Fordham University. Follow at @Empressval to join her never-ending conversations about everything and then some.

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