This past Saturday I was standing on the corner of South and 4th streets in Philadelphia after seeing a fabulous concert with my sister. I felt comfy/cute in a cozy pink sweater, black mini-skirt and knee high suede boots. While attempting to hail a cab back to our hotel, a car full of people sailed past us and a voice cried “Heyyyyy Precious!” from the back window.
He was talking to me.
In the spirit of everything that we talk about here on TBGB; loving ourselves, knowing that our weight doesn’t define us, etc. I’d love to say that I shrugged the comment off and went about my night, but my skin isn’t that thick yet, I’m still growing up. Being called “Precious” annoyed me to no end. A huge part of my annoyance was with myself for allowing the “Precious” comment to hurt me in the first place. Once I calmed down, I knew I had to process the insult from both directions. 1.) Why is calling a girl “Precious” proper ammunition for hurtful verbal assault? 2.) Why does being called “Precious” feel like hurtful verbal assault?
I find it interesting that people rarely refer to the actress who played Precious by her actual name, Gabourey Sidibe, instead they always call her “Precious”. Do we call Halle Berry “Catwoman”, “Monsters Ball”, or “B.A.P.S.”? No, we don’t. So why do we insist on calling Gabourey ”Precious”? and why do we insist on calling fat girls with dark skin Precious… it’s clearly a punchline for many people, but why?
I actually have a lot in common with Gabourey Sidibe, we’re both big girls with dark skin, we both enjoy acting/performing, we’re both New York based, we’re both a little quirky… so if you said “Hey Gabourey!” I could see the similarities and go about my day.
Being called Precious is something different– Precious is a tragic character on many levels and her weight/eating is an outward reflection of the characters deeper issues. On a more superficial level, for many people “Precious” is synonymous with “Big Black Girl with Dark skin”. Some people might think of being big with dark skin as a double negative (fat is considered an undesirable state for most people, and in the African-American community, having dark skin can also be seen as undesirable). So they hurl the “Precious” insult at girls like me to address those characteristics. Lucky for me, I love my chocolate complexion and I stopped shedding tears about my size a long time ago, so those things are not what hurt me.
The more I think about it, when I hear Precious my mind goes to that scene in the movie when she’s running down the street eating a huge bucket of fried chicken. I think that’s what I find insulting.
I frustrates me that no matter how dolled up I get, no matter how cute my clothes are, no matter how fierce my makeup is… some people will look at me and immediately see a big black girl running down the street eating a bucket of KFC.
I’m sure I’m not the first Plus Size Princess to be called “Precious” and the issues I’m raising will take more than one little blog post from me to be explored, but I just thought I’d mention what happened to me because I found all the dynamics around it pretty fascinating.
Feel free to offer comments in the section below… thoughts???