When a millennial looks up to an accomplished woman from an older generation, they often call them ‘auntie’ as a sign of respect and admiration. It turns out that three women of distinction that millennials treasure aren’t fans of this term of endearment: Oprah Winfrey, Ava DuVernay and Gayle King.
According to Oprah’s O Magazine, they all feel aged and uncomfortable when they are greeted that way.
“Auntie Ava? Why? Am I that old?!” DuVernay ,46, said during a visit to Van Lathan’s podcast. “Because I don’t feel that old! And it’s not a respect thing…Auntie Ava, like…Aunt Jemima?”
Winfrey said being called ‘auntie’ makes her super uncomfortable accept for when she is in Africa because it is customary for them to do so.
“I cringe being called Auntie or Mama by anybody other than my nieces or godchildren,” she told O Magazine. “Except if I’m in Africa, where it’s the custom for everybody to refer to anyone older as ‘Sister,’ or ‘Auntie,’ depending on the age difference. And there, no one refers to anyone older by their first name, out of respect.”
King, 64, added that she feels it has more to with age than respect.
“I hate being called Auntie. That’s what you say to old people or the old lady who lives in the neighborhood!” she told O Magazine. “I get that it’s a sign of respect, but no one’s calling Beyoncé ‘Auntie Beyoncé!’ The only ones who should be calling me ‘Aunt’ are my niece and nephew—and they don’t add the ie.”
Earlier this month, DuVernay took to Twitter and said she would rather be called “Sis,” “Family,” “Queen,” or just Ava if you want to keep it simple.
“Oprah has worked pretty well for me,” the media mogul said about what she prefers to be called by the younger generation. “Though sometimes strangers refer to me as Lady O, which feels friendly, yet respectful of the age difference. It feels appropriate.”