Years ago, my good friend dropped by on a lazy Saturday afternoon. She had just been in the neighborhood and wanted to chat. When I opened the front door she grinned at me and laughed. “Jenna, you’re so bougie!” I was taken aback. “Why do you say that?” I wondered. “Girl, I thought I’d find you laying around in your pajamas or your hair uncombed or something. I never do. You’re always so fancy.” I looked down at my t-shirt and jeans. “This is fancy?” I asked astounded. “Yes girl-you’re always dressed up, even when you run out to grab something last minute at the grocery store.”
“Well, I don’t consider this fancy or dressed up. I consider it presentable. I’m an elementary school teacher who lives and works in the same community as my students. Wherever I go, I run into my coworkers, students, and parents-even at the gym! There is never a time for me to be unkempt. How I present myself to others is how I will be treated.”
She looked at me for a long time, and then slowly said, “I think you care too much about what people think about you. You’re bougie girl. ”
“No, not at all. I just understand that if I don’t look like I respect myself, then others will not treat me with respect.” She rolled her eyes and changed the subject.
After she left, I thought extendedly about her words, and society in general. She had called me bougie.
My friend was calling me a snob for getting dressed everday. She viewed me as uppity for not running down to Walmart without running a comb or brush through my hair and putting on shoes. I was baffled. When did it become acceptable to leave our homes purposely looking like a “hot mess”? Was I really uppity or bougie as she had said? Was it wrong for wanting to be presentable? I was deeply disturbed by her words, but I tried to shake it off.
If you don’t present yourself as someone deserving of respect, others will not treat you with respect.
Everyday, we should take the time to care for our basic dress and grooming needs. Never should we purposely leave our homes unkempt. It does not matter if we have designer or new clothes. What matters is that we are clean and well arranged. By making this a daily habit you’re ready for that quick run to the grocery store, the unexpected arrival of a guest, or a last minute errand to help a friend. You set a good example for your children, showing them how responsible adults should care for themselves. You remain attractive to your mate or partner. Most of all, when you look good, you feel good. Taking the time to dress presentably isn’t bougie, stuck up, snobby, or pretentiousness. It’s a matter of self respect. Don’t let anyone convince you differently.