Written By Aspen, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series
In a conversation with one of my dearest and most honest friends a few weeks ago, it was brought to my attention that I have a “type”. I called her upset by yet another series of interactions with a man who has expressed interest in me over the course of several years but has always rambled off a list of excuses when it came time to answer my questions regarding where we stand. It was a harsh reality that came to the forefront of my mind when she told me that I am constantly falling for men who are unconventionally attracted to me. A hard pill to swallow at the time, I’ve since gathered my thoughts and put them in this letter.
To All the Men Who Have Been Attracted to My Unconventional (read: Inner) Beauty:
I start this letter by first saying thank you. You were put in my life at some point during these 25 (almost 26!) years and in those times we shared jokes, emotions, feelings, and adventures that I can’t possibly ever forget.
I try my best to keep a positive outlook on life and maintain the mindset that everything truly happens for a reason. So for most of you, those good time outweigh the bad ones. But even though I forgive you all for any of the bad times (and I hope you to do the same for me because I surely made mistakes too along my interpersonal journey), I cannot forget them.
I cannot forget the way you told me that I should straighten my hair more because it looks so good “just like a white girl”.
Alternately, I cannot forget the way I was told that you like my natural curls more because it makes me looks more Black. (Ironically enough, that was the same man as the last comment – he jumped on the natural hair wave like the rest of us and swore he was woke after that).
I cannot forget the way you told me that I look best in the color black because “it’s slimming”– my body isn’t a funeral and I actually look great in yellow and blue.
I cannot forget the times those of you decided to order for me so that I would eat something with less calories. Or the way that you would try to make me hate my own body by reminding me how many calories are in each item that I chose to consume.
I cannot forget the way that you pushed me to work out with you or sign up for yet another gym membership under the guise that it would allow us to spend more time together. There is nothing inherently wrong with active dates – hell, I love a good hike or swim! But you didn’t do this because you cared about me or my health (which is not in jeopardy according to my doctor), you did it because you wanted to change me.
I cannot forget the way that you poked my stomach and chuckled while cuddling, only to follow up by telling me you’ve never dated any one before with extra meat on their bones.
The list goes on and on but it always leads to the same end. I cannot forget the way that you went out of your way to tell me how much you’ve fallen in love with my personality — that way I cared for others, made you laugh, and lifted your spirits day in and day out even though you never ceased to break mine with the constant reminders that how I looked would never match the person you envisioned yourself with – someone with a flatter stomach, different skin, and different hair. So, until that changed you could only see me as a sister or best friend but never a romantic lover despite your repeated tipsy sexual advances that did nothing but confuse us both and which you adamantly decided to blame on the alcohol in order to convince yourself that you couldn’t possibly be attracted to someone who looks like me.
And most importantly, I cannot forget the way all of you found solace in the emotional burden you placed on me. And for that, I not only have to forgive you but I also have to forgive myself for allowing each and everyone one of you to take advantage of my kindness and invalidate ALL that I had to offer.
And at the same time, I cannot be upset towards any of you for any longer as it pertains to these indiscretions or for envisioning yourself and your romantic future with someone who doesn’t look like me. But just like the many times I’ve challenged you in ways that foster your own growth during our time together, I challenge you one last time. I challenge you to figure out what contributes to your definition of beauty. If you are like most people, this mindset that you think you’ve created on your own is probably actually constructed by the media that you consume. While I no longer have interest in pursuing you romantically, I urge you to think critically about this as you continue to grow and engage with women (or honestly anyone really) particularly as it relates to harm that may be contributing to those you claim to care about. And in tandem, I will challenge myself. I will challenge myself to remember that I have agency. I do not have to fall silent and allow you to try to change me. And please not that when I say you, I mean the next you that stumbles into my life because men like you come by the dozen.
So, just as I began this letter, I end it by once again thanking you. Only this time, I thank you for failing to acknowledge that I am beautiful inside AND out, no matter how my body and mind grow, change, or even slim (I recently accidentally found out I really enjoy jogging when you aren’t trying to subliminally force me into doing it!). Out of all of our interactions, it is your inaction that emboldens me to rationalize the idea that even though I haven’t met them yet, a person who doubtlessly recognizes this aforementioned FACT is somewhere out there waiting for me.
All The Best,
– Aspen, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series