I gingerly stepped into OkCupid’s shooting range in my mid twenties.
In truth, I was looking for a distraction to get over my ex, and my profile, which included links like this, reflected my carefree dating approach.
I received 56 messages in just two weeks.
56 messages?! Awesome!
Sure, many of those messages ranged from the unintelligible, “Will you have some peanut butter sandwich after or before because I eat even a burger with roasted peanut butter?” to the sexually suggestive, “I wil love to b close and meet with you …” but for this gal (who never received an invitation to a high school dance) it was a boon. I was in demand … so I thought.
Only after bragging about my robust inbox to friends did I realize that a double-digit number in two weeks is actually quite meager.
Many of my friends (ahem, petite blondes) received that number in a single day.
Still, for me, all that ignoring, winking and blushing was becoming a full-time job.
After a few exhausting months, I pulled my OkC ripcord and abandoned my profile altogether. I stepped back into real-time dating (now cloaked in my new pixelated cape of confidence) convinced my partner would arrive the old fashioned way – you know, serendipitously.
Fast forward 4 years and multiple opportunities for a chance encounter have proven unfruitful.
While I continue to hope for the accidental run in or embarrassing misdial, I resigned to realign with cupid’s quiver on March 1st
31 days in and the results thus far? 22 messages and just two er, one date. (The second date literally cancelled as I was writing this).
Fo realz? One date?
Am I not in the Bay Area full of spiritually minded, ethnically diverse creatives hungry for authentic connection or at least a good time on the dance floor?
Does my profile not strike the perfect balance of sass, honesty and humor?
Did I not include pictures depicting my dynamic personality including but not limited to: strong me, playful me and professional me?
And, perhaps most baffling, aren’t my friends of a similar age, body type and professional aspiration fielding multiple dates a week?
Naturally, I’ve come up with a few scenarios for my lackluster round two debut.
Perhaps that reference to wanting something real in paragraph two is too much?
Is it time to pull the trigger on the all-powerful cleavage shot?
Honestly though, I think the online crickets are chirping because my profile is missing one key ingredient: blonde hair.
When my lovely locks were my dominant feature, the messages flooded in – many referenced my mane, questioned my ethnicity, loved my “exotic” look.
Without the hair, I am quite clearly a black woman complete with a black nose, round brown eyes and short, albeit curly, brown hair.
I was warned of the grim dating statistics for black women before again jumping online, but it was impossible to take heed given my previously OK stellar performance.
Honestly though, examining my real-time man magnet appeal, my decline in online popularity shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Since shearing my head, my attention from men has fallen away as well. Where once the frequent double take was standard round any block, I now receive nary a side glance.
Catcalls, the distracted conversation of a clear admirer, awkward stares? Gone, gone, gone!
To morph from desired exotica to invisible gal next door in one swift haircut, is not for the faint at heart.
There have been moments when I’ve longed for my hair to return. I’ve caught myself assuring the rejected, lonely, scared corners of my being that once the curls are flowing, I will be happy again.
Hair growth has been monitored weekly. Is it happening? How much loonger until it’s loong again, my little-girl whines.
I’m discovering makeup, funky earrings, belly shirts and how to unabashedly flirt. How truly challenging it is to be a woman.
But, here’s where I’m lucky.
These moments of feeling not-so-bootylicious are becoming fewer and farther between.
When I look at myself, I mean really look, I see a strong woman confident in her imperfect body, face and short brown curls.
She fondly remembers that blondie from last summer but now realizes there was a lot of fear behind those highlights. That girl was afraid of being considered undesirable, unlovable and unattractive.
She relished being mistaken for Brazilian or Colombian because these far-off identities kept her safe from being truly seen.
In these moments of clarity, I’m proud to no longer be hiding behind my hair. Sure, it’s tough walking in this world without my favorite mask, but it’s real. And I wonder, what does real look like for the rest of the world?
How might our standards of beauty change if we empowered all women to walk confidently in their radiant uniqueness?
What if my chocolate little niece never knew of skin bleaching creams, straighteners, colored contact lenses and hair extensions? If she could dress according to her mood and never fear being objectified or worse, completely ignored?
In this world women are celebrated for their scars and cellulite as badges of motherhood and time.
This, my friends, is the woman I am becoming.
And I will happily stand alone in my glorious blackness until someone amazing sees, appreciates and bravely joins my side.