There are a handful of Black female characters and celebrities that I’ve looked up to in adolescence and continue to do so, like Toni Childs, Isis from Bring It On, and Naomi Campbell are among some of the many Black women I look up to. But what do these women in particular have in common? They're bad bitches who've never had a doubt in their mind that they are indeed a bad bitch. To be a Black woman who's so sure of themselves and confident in their abilities is so nice to see. It's needed. There's no fear present when it comes to flaunting how excellent they are in every facet of life. They're essentially what I aspire to be in a world that tries to silence and bury Black women.
There's a boldness and an air of assurance these women have that can only be cultivated once you fully know your worth, your strengths, and your purpose. And it may or may not take a long time to come to that point. Take me for example. I'm finally starting to grow into myself as I work towards shedding this painfully shy and anxious shell that I've been residing in for so long that has caused me to shrink my very being routinely. I've always thought I was being too loud, too scary, too outspoken, too intimidating, too confident, just too much. It's so regressive and hurtful to my being as a Black woman, for me to only express and present myself in a way that's based on how others would possibly feel about me when I'm already practically invisible in this world. The habit of reshaping and filtering myself out of fear of how I would be perceived has caused me to hold back my thoughts, restrict my self-expression, and doubt myself repeatedly.
I've never allowed myself to own my strengths, my talents, my intelligence. I've never allowed myself to fully accept compliments on my writing, to say how much of a good writer I am. To own my beauty and casually remind the world of how good-looking I am on a regular basis. To simply say and express how brilliant I am. I could never do it without shame and the fear that I'm doing too much with too little. I become so bashful when it comes to praising my own essence and each time I do it, it feels like I'm chipping off pieces of myself until there's nothing left. I aid in the erasure of myself each time I don't allow myself to shine and be great by deflecting compliments and literally humbling myself for no reason.
But when I saw women like Toni ChildsI stopped doing all that when I saw girls like Toni Childs owning their sexuality and beauty, being so boastful about it like it's common knowledge for the whole world, I stopped being so afraid of my own power. And do I even need to explain why I love and admire Naomi Campbell? Fierce in every aspect of life, her walk is literally unmatched to this day, just watching her walk makes me feel confident. She exudes an abundance of charismatic, and poised, assertive energy that can't help but infect and inspire you off bat. Also, when she said she never became a Victoria's Secret Angel because they couldn't afford her? I gave her my heart. Like I cut my chest open with a butterknife, dug behind my rib cage, and gave it to her as a keepsake.
Usually when you think of an unfriendly black hottie, you automatically think of that group of black high schoolers giving Cady the stinkeye in Mean Girls, right? But I don't think that's a wholly accurate representation of what a true unfriendly black hottie should be. It was lowkey kind of stereotypical which made it easy to look at them and automatically label them as mean and probably bullies since they were basically mean no matter what. But being the observant person that I am, I like to think that Isis from Bring It On was the original Unfriendly Black Hottie™. There's a science to it and I've cracked the code. The formula essentially goes like this: being authentically you 24/7 + pure confidence = Unfriendly Black Hottie™.
It all starts off with the terrible concept that is niceness. It's literally a social construct, one of the most trash social constructs since time and race to be quite honest. I've expressed my belief many a time before that the concept of being nice is really pointless, it's literally just a way for everyone to front in each other's faces. You can be nice on the outside with all the pleasantries of smiling at strangers and appearing to be a pleasant being, keyword is "appearing". Underneath all of that you could quite literally be the devil, like Lucifer himself, so you being nice doesn't matter at the end of the day.
Being nice is all about projecting a socially acceptable image that's likable, it's really all about likability. I was not put on this earth to contort myself to how others want to see and interact with me, instead of simply being who I am at all times. I'm here for a good time not a long time, which means I will do and say whatever the hell I want whenever the hell I want because a hurricane might sweep me off my feet tomorrow. Being nice is not a genuine act, it's a sort of behavior we've been taught to do since birth because it's apparently the right thing to do and so that people don't think we're rude or whatever (which eye don't care about, as you may know). We do it to make others feel at ease. It doesn't come from the heart, not in the way actual kindness does. Niceness is basically an acting role we play in our daily lives to help us get ahead, nothing more nothing less. It's also about protecting other people's feelings and feeding into their perceptions even if it's at your expense, which is something I'm not into.
The act of being nice only puts you in a vulnerable position for people to project onto you and take advantage of you, it's such an unsafe and fruitless practice that we do. Everyone has different takes on what niceness looks like which is dangerous cause then you'll probably find yourself trying to conform to a bunch of other people's expectations in an attempt to please them and acceptably present as being nice. You see what I'm saying? Yes you do.
Working in customer service as a dark skinned Black girl has taught me that being nice is unnecessary emotional labor that does not serve the performer's wellbeing in any way, all it does is put other people's insecurities and doubts at ease while they take your niceness for weakness and treat you like shit. When I worked as a cashier in a predominately white neighborhood, it was THE most exhausting thing I've ever had to do. Keeping a smile on my face and remaining cordial to people that don't deserve it? As if. After that, I told myself I was done being nice, especially by default, and what you see is what you get. I'll treat you how you treat me, end of.
The whole thing about kindness vs. niceness is that one is out of the pure goodness of your heart while the other is simply a mask, a portrayal. When I'm being genuinely caring and kind towards someone it's because I want to and that person has made me feel like it's safe and appropriate for me to act out of kindness, not because I feel obligated to, even if I feel a completely different way at the time.
I believe Black girls know all of this from day 1 which is why everyone thinks we're always so mean and intimidating. We're not interested in being likable or presenting ourselves as such because who cares? We been peeped the game and don't give two dry shits if people think we're nice or not, because we know who we are and we know that the people we love know who we are. That's all that matters, not a facade of trying to basically appear as a doormat to a bunch of strangers and acquaintances. That, embodied with insane amounts of confidence is bound to make plenty of people scared and uncomfortable.
I remember watching Bring It On as a child and hating Isis so much, I saw her as the villain each time I watched it. As I got older and watched it again, I don't know what the hell I was thinking. Looking back, I'm starting to think it was some Jedi mind trick shit for that film to somehow make the audience view Isis as a villain, despite the fact that she was actually the victim. I always thought Isis was being a bully, that she was being so mean and should've gone easier on them when really 1) they deserved it but 2) she really wasn't being mean, she just wasn't being nice. Then I realized it's also because she's Black.
Isis was a Black girl who knew what she wanted and didn't beat around the bush, she skipped all the niceties and got straight to the point each and every time. The fact that she wasn't "nice" or friendly to the very people who were ripping her off is what I believe made her look villainous, the refusal to perform that emotional labor for any and everyone despite the circumstances. Easing other people's perceptions and discomforts was not a concern of hers or anyone in her crew.
Isis was the unfriendly black hottie, the prototype. She had her squad, everyone at school probably loved her since she was the head cheerleader, she was cute, and she did what she had to do in order to set things straight. But she wasn't mean. Intimidating? Yes. Mean? No. People think if you're not "nice" or "friendly" then you're automatically mean, but I think there's definitely space in between the two and many people occupy that space, including myself. But nobody realizes it because those people aren't kissing ass and whatnot, so it's automatically labeled as mean.
Isis fit right in that grey space and quite well, which I don't think a lot of people realized especially while watching this movie at a younger age. It was so easy to perceive Isis and her crew as the villains because they didn't play nicey nice with the white girls who were stealing and making a come up off of them. Everyone thinks being the bigger person to those who screw you over is a life requirement (it's really not, like ever. Let's dead that) and if you're not that, then you're a terrible person (also not true). Isis never threatened anyone, never retaliated to physical violence, didn't sabotage anyone, none of that. She brought the truth to light and got justice for her team in a mature and straightforward manner which I'm sure was most definitely scary for some white girls who expect everyone to be nice to them and who've probably never dealt with Black girls before. Especially ones from Compton at that, but none of it was mean or unnecessary.
From my point of view, after watching that movie a million times and focusing solely on Isis's character, I can say that she was many things, but I wouldn't say she was unfriendly. Unwilling to front and put up with bullshit? Yes. But by the end when it was all over and done with, she was cool with the Toros, came out on top, and she had a good time. During that whole film Isis was simultaneously kind, direct, stern, and fun, nothing about her actions or demeanor was unfriendly in my opinion. Sis got her trophy and wasn't afraid to be seen as the scary, mean Black girl while she set the record straight, because she knew at the end of the day that that wasn't who she was.
There's a complexity with Black girls like Isis that I admire. The ability to be fun, confident, assertive, kind, bold and outspoken all at once can be a tough one for some of us Black girls because we're critiqued and stereotyped any time we exhibit even just one of the above. It's like we can't express ourselves without some sort of backlash or unnecessary comments that automatically boxes us and places us into a category of one type of woman. We can never be calm while also pointing out injustices that have effected us, we're just loud and angry bitches despite the fact that we use our inside voices even on the world wide web. We can't be assertive without being labeled as a mean, heartless bitch when in reality we're just trying to be professional and get shit done. We can never be several things at once, it's like we've been forced to pick and choose which way we want to be and we feel like we have to stick to it. Otherwise we're being fake, when it's really just that we're dynamic women with a wide range of emotions to express and different sides of ourselves.
The essence of an Unfriendly Black Hottie™ is ultimately a mindset/attitude and lifestyle more than anything. There is no specific look attached to it other than simply being a Black girl. It's not about dressing like an Instagram model with 30 inch Indian wave bundles and a beat face. You don't have to look a certain way to be an unfriendly black hottie or be an annoying bully to be one. You just gotta be brave enough to fully own yourself and not be afraid of the outside gaze.
The art of being an Unfriendly Black Hottie™ is about being the bad bitch that deep down inside you always wished you were. It's about knowing your worth and not letting people walk over you and do you dirty, knowing how and when to say "no". It's about choosing your battles wisely and fighting them just as wisely. It's about saying whatever is on your mind. Why? Because nobody's gonna beat your ass and you're more than likely right anyway whether they like it or not. It's about freely being a multifaceted woman with nothing but confidence that skyrockets so high it surpasses the Milky Way because self-doubt doesn't live within an Unfriendly Black Hottie™. It's about fearlessly being everything at once.
The goal really is to be able to freely exist, that's what I want every Black girl to aspire to. To break free of conforming to other people's standards and existing to make people comfortable. Fuck that. Own your confidence, shout how bad and talented you are from the rooftops so the whole neighborhood can hear it and be mad about it while they wait for their ground beef to unthaw.