Humble Yourself: How Being "Bougie" Can Make You Look Tacky

Everyday black women are smashing stereotypes and succeeding beyond our wildest dreams. Whether we graduate from college, gain advanced degrees, start our own companies or maintain a successful family with beautiful children, black women have a lot to be proud of. But what happens when our pride takes over?

The curse of becoming bougie is contagious; once we reach higher places, some of us start walking with our head in the clouds and start looking down on our friends in lower places.

So what is the difference between being bougie and being proud of your accomplishments? How you carry yourself. Some of us are able to hold our heads high without emitting a bougie air. This depends on your ability to have fun, relate to others, and hold an intelligent conversation without trying to one-up your audience.

As a recent college graduate, I have struggled with balancing my bougieness as well. I celebrate my accomplishment as a young black woman with a bachelor’s degree and I don’t let others who are insecure with their limited opportunities bring me down. I acknowledge my greatness; however, a few of my peers have let the let their small town fame go to their head.

Here are some of the examples of Bougieness I have encountered:

Too cute to have fun:
These are the people you see at the club and family gathering who refuse to dance, laugh, or generally show enjoyment in a public setting. They masquerade their shyness or social anxiety with straight up bougieness. Instead of having a good time, they spend their energy pointing out faux designer shoes and tacky dresses, pointing and laughing at bad dance moves, and complaining about how the bar doesn’t have bottle service. Because they are too cute to hang with the general public, they flock amongst themselves in dark corners or only socialize via the Twitter feed on their phone.

The Wannabe “Joneses”:
As a young adult, these are the peers who own every trinket you are dying to buy. They own the newest game consoles, real designer clothes, even the nicest cars and waste no time bragging about their materialistic gains. But in reality, they are broke as hell. If they live on their own, they are just barely making rent with their materialistic lifestyle, and their credit scores are taking all of the pain. If they live at home, they are either on the verge of getting the boot for wasting all of Daddy’s money.

As an adult or a child of bougie parents, this is the family that has the giant house full of expensive paintings, yet their pantry is stocked with Dollar Tree products. Their Swarvoski crystal chandelier hangs unlit because they can barely afford to pay the electric bill, and the bank probably owns their house from five years of bankruptcy. Yet amidst all of their financial stress, they allow their children to spend until their hearts’ content, exaggerating their materialistic reach their slightly elevated status can afford.

The Yuppies/Elevators:
This is the category I can relate to the most. As a recent graduate, I am currently dodging the terrifying, yet inevitable question of, “What are you doing with your life?” In this vulnerable state, my peers who already have their life together already get automatic side-eyes. Those who use their temporary elevated status as a bragging right however deserved to get cut out for a while. I am not talking about those people who are excited for their job and celebrate with close friends and family; I’m talking about those select few who use their status to hold themselves above other. Conversations with them consist of 50 percent corporate jargon and 50 percent backhanded compliments. The irony of this situation is that when you land on your feet and surpass their level, you will realize all that talk they were serving was a bunch of bull.

Annoyances aside, I critique bougieness because I see my peers view the characteristic as a compliment; now that we're on the path to a successful adulthood, we feel entitled to step on those “below” us. In our fight for independence, we go crazy with our first paycheck in an attempt to live large. But without the discipline, experience and humility our high hopes of living large will only result in us looking bougie—and tacky.

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