Our Favorite Word?… Girl
I was surprised to find that there were quite a few women who took issue with the title of BET’s “Black Girls Rock” program. I know, I know feminism has affected us. (And there’s nothing wrong with that.) Technically and biologically we are women and deserve to be recognized as such; but for many black women, girl is a term of endearment, one of the milder ones in the black community. I know that personally I address close associates, friends and family (of any race) by this moniker. When my grandmother was still living she got a real kick out of the fact that when one of our late night conversations got good to me, I’d call her girl too. It’s my word…our word. Yes, we’re grown. Yes, we’re women but when it gets real, when we get comfortable, you can be a woman and a girl all at the same time.
Even if you don’t use this phrase, surely after hanging out with us here at Madame Noire, you know what it means. The phrase “girl, stop” expresses distaste for action or idea. Here we like to use it when referring to celebrities who’ve gone too far– or not far enough– with their fashion choices. I like to use this one when one of my friends is talking out the side of her neck. Typically this one is used in a playful matter.
This can be a tricky one to nail down as it can be used in a variety of ways. Commonly, I hear and use this phrase after a detailed report has been given. Once all the details are out on the table, the listener will ask, what the story teller perceives as a ridiculous or outlandish question. Instead of even dignifying said question with an answer she simply replies with a “girl, please.” It’s something like a mock dismissal. Other times in a slightly more heated situation we might scoff this phrase to an adversary we don’t take too seriously
Yes! or as I like to say “yaaassss.” This word, delivered with passion, is the most succinct way to describe the pride and admiration a woman feels when she herself or a close friend has achieved fashion and beauty perfection. But if you want to expound and take this compliment to the next level, you tell yourself in the mirror or your friend as you look her up and down, “girl, werk!” This is the highest compliment one woman can give to another when it comes to all things fashion and beauty.
Personally, I haven’t quite mastered this one. A lot of the younger ones, or the older ones trying to to hang on their youth, use this colloquialism. Essentially, it’s a new age version of “girl, please.” It’s our version of a “get outta here.”
And Girl, do you know what (s)he did?
Black women are master story tellers and we know that one of the best ways to engage our listeners is to ask a question. When you preface the dramatic climax of your story with a “girl, do you know what he did?” you place your audience right at the edge. They have no choice but to wait with baited breath for you to give up the juicy details.
Speaking of juicy details, just as “girl, do you know what she did?” will have your friends anxiously anticipating your next words, a “girl let me tell you,” elicits excitement. You already know before it’s begun that the story is going to be good. And if, at it’s conclusion, you find that you’re bored, you can always respond with an disappointed, “oh, girl,” or a dismissive “girl, please.” Either way she’ll get the message that she needs to spice it up next time.
Like many of the other “girl” phrases, there are several ways this particular one can be uttered. So I want to be clear about how I mean this particular “ooo, girl.” This is the naughty one. Your bestie has just shared one of her past, present or future sexcapades and it’s so titillating that your only response is an “ooo, girl.” It’s a verbal lip curl of satisfaction, a slow wind of the hips if you will. In a short two word phrase, “ooo, girl” playfully chides and encourages your friend to… do…her…thang!
(If you still don’t quite understand, a perfect example of “ooo, girl” can be heard in Jill Scott’s “The Way.”)
In what ways do you use the word, girl?
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