Have you ever felt like every guy or girl you’re into is only interested in your best friend? Or perhaps you hang with a group of people and when conversations around relationships hit the table, you feel like you’re not even a consideration. I’ve sure felt that way.
I may have a particular sensitivity to this feeling as a black woman in a mainly white circle–black women have been habitually overlooked in American culture and even deemed less desirable, or as one psychologist said “objectively unattractive” (oh no he didn’t!). It can feel like there is a perpetual inferiority to our life stories. In film and television, we call this phenomenon the “Black Best Friend (BFF).”
Essentially, its about the tendency of filmmakers to showcase black actresses in primarily supporting roles as the funny sidekick or sage advisor (with sass of course), but rarely the featured character. Critics claim the implicit message is that the stories of black women don’t matter.
I don’t want to belabor a racial issue right now. See criticism of the recent film The Help if you want to talk race. But I would, however, like to linger for a moment on the universal feeling of constantly being “the friend” or an understudy in real life stories of love.
I’ve made an accidental habit out of being the best friend to a number of ridiculously beautiful women. Case in point: Sarah (see right). I mean the lady has legs for days, a hair swoop so smooth Nike is taking notice, and a freakishly chill “I’m just one of the guys” attitude that makes her so easygoing and accommodating that I want to punch her in the face.
Wait, what were we talking about? Oh yeah…playing second fiddle.
See the problem is when you are friends with someone fantastic and others take notice of their light, it can feel like your friend’s sun only serves to illuminate how deep in the shadows you’re living. But I’ve learned that stewing in bitterness, jealousy or envy is wasted energy because the other person is rarely the problem. Now get this…don’t miss this: feelings of being overlooked are almost always surefire signs that we’ve lost sight of who we are.
I realized this a couple years ago just before I met honey after a season of drowning from the weight of feeling second best. Over the course of a few months I had to make a conscious decision to stop being a second-rate Sarah or a poor carbon copy of the other desirable women around me. I started to press deeper into who I was with all of my varied interests, past experiences and unique hopes for the future. Soon enough, when I least expected it, the guy who would never want the women I’d previously been envying, fell in love with the real me.
If you’re feeling like you are constantly going unnoticed, start paying some attention to who you are. Log out of Facebook; sign out of Twitter; go spend 10 minutes in the mirror. Press deeper into who you are and see how that changes your situation.
We’re in it with you so let us know how it goes by leaving a comment below or shooting us an email at ikisseddatinghello[at]gmail.com.