2020 is the Year of the Bitch. Welcome. The water is fine. When I say "bitch," of course I mean, noun, \ ˈbich \, a person who knows what they want, loves the word ‘no,’ sets boundaries for themselves, and cancels plans without sending paragraph-long ‘sorry’ texts. I am not that person.
I become ridden with guilt for flaking on plans I don’t even know why I agreed to in the first place. I am a yes man, just ask my friend Rachel Brunner from Spring Break in 2016. I have an approachable face. It’s probably something in it’s roundness or my overeager facial expressions in conversation, despite me being a bad listener. Day-to-day, I am generally unassuming and an easy target. I have famously responded to weekend work emails, condoned cat calls, gotten stuck in conversations with strangers for twenty minutes too long, and maintained toxic friendships that should have ended years ago. It only took a global pandemic, a race war, and more to get me to give it up.
Last month, I went home for a week for work, unannounced to anyone but my parents. Even on my regular short work trips home I see a handful of people and I make them come to my side of town because I don’t have the time to sit in L.A. traffic. Maybe I already had a little bitch in me. There was a heatwave when I arrived home in California. We were still technically in quarantine. Protests for people who looked exactly like me were still happening around the country. And to top it off, I had just recovered from getting hit by a car. Yes, I got hit by a car in the middle of a pandemic because a driver tried to cut me off … Maybe it was my approachable face.
I got a text from an old flame asking to hangout — someone who does this every time my geotag on Instagram switches from Brooklyn to Baldwin Hills. Usually I come up with some lame excuse, filled with lots of sorries and exclamation points and emojis I don’t mean. But this time I just didn’t respond. I could not bring myself to. These days I have such limited energy, a short fuse, and little patience. Being alive right now is hard. Getting through the day is a goal. The last thing I have time to do is be fake. The last thing I want to do is play nice.
For clarity, I’m using the word rude or bitch in the canonically common way, a way that is normally associated with women — especially Black women — if their attitude is anything less than charming, pleasant, or docile. But to be a bitch is a powerful thing. As Naomi Campbell iconically said in an interview with Barbra Walters, “If I'm gonna be remembered for something, I want to be remembered for being a bitch,” she says. “But a hard working bitch. And a loyal bitch.”
Even while writing this article my coworker received an email with the subject line, CONTROL YOUR RESTING BITCH FACE ON VIDEO CALLS WITH THESE EXPERT TIPS. Yes, a real email. And yes, this is terrible advice. Let your bitch face show. The sexiest thing I’ve ever done was say no. The most professional thing I’ve ever done was say no. Hard period. Full stop. There are a lot of different ways to say no! Never. Nay. Not. Practice next time you’re asked to work on the weekends without overtime.
You don’t need to smile, you’re wearing a mask anyway. Technically hugging is a thing of the past. The world might be slowly reopening (whatever that means??), but a global pandemic is a great reason to say no to plans. It is an even better reason to make sure you’re taking care of your mental health and not working too late or too much. It is NOT a reason to text your ex.
With everything going on right now, the last thing anyone wants is a lackluster catchup with a three-hour-brunch friend. Our priorities are becoming more pointed. Our energy is to be preserved. My personal self-growth has led me to realize, there’s a lot of things I actually don’t like, and a lot of people I don’t need. Upon writing that last sentence I thought, ugh I’m gonna sound like a bitch. But fires are burning, people are dying, everything is awful, there’s no need to fake being nice. Save your sincerity for the people who deserve it. Protect your energy for yourself. And always wear your resting bitch face with pride.