10 Signs You Might Be Bougie

If you see yourself on this list, it’s OK. No judgments.

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in Scandal
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in Scandal Screenshot

We’ve seen them on TV—from Whitley Gilbert on A Different World to Olivia Pope in Scandal: bougie black folk. Some wear their bougie with pride, like a scout badge, while others fight it ferociously, as if you had just called them a racist cop. You (or someone you know) may be bougie: full, half or maybe mixed with just a smidgen.

What exactly does “bougie” mean? Well, it’s complicated, but we all know bougie when we see it. Take a look at these 10 signs of a bougie black person. If you spot yourself on the list, it’s OK. Breathe. If you spot someone you know on the list, just drop this on his or her social media. No judgment.

Image 1
  • Generic image
    Generic image iStock

    1. Your “fitness” life is on fleek.

    You don’t do gyms. To you, they are so passé: the generic Zumba classes, the masses of people, the smell of sweat—it’s all too much. You traded in your gym membership years ago and frequent exclusive athletic clubs that provide unlimited towel service and host their own farmers markets on Wednesday mornings. Saturday mornings consist of a round of golf or tennis at “the club.”

  • Generic image
    Generic image iStock

    2. You give your kids résumé-appropriate names.

    Nope, your babies ain’t gon’ be racially profiled by potential employers because of their names. “Bryce,” “Madison” and “Preston” are all résumé-appropriate names—plus, they just kind of have a special ring to them. Your silver Volvo SUV rolls into Ridgecrest Prep like clockwork at 3:20 p.m. every weekday to pick up your 11-year-old Madison and 8-year-old Preston. Snacks, consisting of celery sticks and organic sugarless peanut butter, await them as they travel to piano lessons, followed by a tutoring session with their Latin instructor.

  • Generic image
    Generic image iStock

    3. You travel like the Kennedys.

    You winter in Aspen and summer in Martha’s Vineyard. You refer to it as “the vineyard,” as if everyone should know what you’re referring to. You may or may not ski, because you may not want to bear the cold. You may decide to stay in the resort, cuddled up to the fire’s warmth, and just post photos of yourself in your newly purchased snowsuit on Instagram, with the caption, “#Aspen.” And while at the vineyard, you may or may not get in the water because you may or may not be able to swim, and you may or may not be willing to get your hair wet. But Preston and Madison will be in the water, because they learned to swim when they were 6 months old.

  • Generic image
    Generic image iStock

    4. You hire a black nanny.

    You love your kids and love being with them, but you hire a nanny because you either work and need the extra help or are a “full-time philanthropist” and somehow still need the extra help. You give her (or him, if you’re progressive) the keys to your castle and an American Express nanny card. But you definitely make sure she’s old and not attractive so there’s no chance of any extramarital relations in your house. And because you believe in doing business within the black community, you make sure she’s black. And when you wanna seem down, you refer to her as your “babysitter” instead of your “nanny” because that sounds more regular. Eventually she becomes a part of your family and travels with you. When you and your family fly first class, she’s right there with you, in coach.

  • Generic image
    Generic image iStock

    5. You have a nontraditional “village.”

    Your “village” consists of your personal trainer, your life coach, your business mentor, your therapist, your hairstylist (or barber) and your massage therapist. They keep you sane, they keep you in check, but most importantly—they keep you on point. Without them, you’d be lost. Seriously.

  • Generic image
    Generic image iStock

    6. You hide behind the law.

    You never say, “Well, you can kiss my black ass!” No, you’re much too sophisticated for that. You address all personal attacks—including assertions that you are, in fact, bougie—with a “Well, you can call my attorney!” And you mean it; you really mean it. You threaten defamation and libel and pain and suffering because you had to schedule an extra session with your therapist because of the suit, and your aura just hasn’t felt right since the verbal assault.

  • Generic image
    Generic image iStock

    7. You constantly thank Jesus for wine.

    Wine is to you what that 40-oz. bottle of malt liquor was to Ice Cube in Boyz n the Hood. You rejoice that Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine. You go wine tasting at least once a year—in either Tuscany or Napa—and you attend minimally one “sip ’n shop” event a month. You prefer Dom Perignon or the like—never, ever “two-buck Chuck.” And you drink a glass while watching your favorite TV shows, which most likely include Scandal and perhaps Queen Sugar.

  • Carlton loved the pastels.
    Carlton loved the pastels. IMDB

    8. You’re always pretty in pastel.

    Cream business suits. Peach silk blouses. Off-white sofas. Your wardrobe and house look like a custom-ordered box of Crayolas, the pastel edition. These colors have a certain tranquillity about them; you dig their feng shui. You, my friend, are a walking “all-white party,” who accessorizes with a Louis Vuitton shoulder bag and a bottle of Beverly Hills 9OH2O. You’re fazed neither by the expensiveness of your designer-water habit nor by the fact that your weekly dry cleaning bill equals most people’s monthly AT&T bill.

  • jack-and-jill-logo

    9. You are a proud member of Jack and Jill.

    You believe in service, you believe in your kids and you believe in the richness of the African-American experience. You want your kids to know their heritage, celebrate it, and meet families with similar backgrounds and values. You want them to be enriched and engaged in every way possible—and if they just so happen to meet influential people with access to jobs and internships in the process, then all the better.

  • Debutantes and their escorts at a cotillion
    Debutantes and their escorts at a cotillion Gisele Bonds/Positive Images

    10. You have participated in a cotillion or beautillion.

    You and/or your children have participated in this grand celebration, and you enjoyed every moment of it: the Cinderella-like gown and dapper tux, the extensive beauty treatments, the months of tedious preparation and anticipation, and, of course—the public debut. You basked in this moment with your loved ones. In fact, the picture from the ball (published in your newspaper’s society pages) sits on your fireplace mantel.

Chanté Griffin is a Los Angeles-based writer and performer who majored in code-switching in college. To hear more of what she has to say, connect with her on Twitter.