I was recently watching an episode of my favorite reality TV show, and I found myself becoming sick to my stomach. The show usually serves as a guilty pleasure of mine---a welcome escape from other seriously depressing, violent, and tragic content on TV and the Web. This time was a bit different.
One cast member was talking about retaliating against another for talking about her behind her back. That scenario is nothing new, however, this exchange was particularly triggering. The way the popular star spoke so viciously about revenge over something I found to be trivial and stupid was like watching a high-school debutante-turned-bully gather all the popular girls at the lunch table to scheme up ruining a poor innocent girl's senior year by spreading a well-crafted rumor.
When I sat and thought about why, I came to the conclusion that it wasn't the fighting, the topics of cheating and broken friendships, nor the incessant bleeping out the F-word. It was the umpteenth mention of "shade" and "tea". The whole phenomenon of the two has become super-tired, and ladies, I think we need to put both to rest for good.
In case I need to build a better case for those who have an unhealthy fixation with "shade" and "tea" like Trump with the presidency, here are 4 good reasons to cut off the ugly fraternal twins forever:
They Highlight Ignorance and Insecurity
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"Tea" is simply divisive gossip oftentimes laced with lies, and "shade" is nothing but toxic passive aggression. People default to these things like they don't have anything better to do or talk about. Throwing shade and spilling tea is just as annoying as using conversation-starters that include complaints about the obvious ("Isn't it too hot out here this summer?") or ice-breakers that mention anything about somebody's weight, marital status, or ovaries. It's annoying, tacky, and ignorant. And call me a snob, but it also signals, to me, that the person doing the spilling or throwing is not well-read, has issues with self-esteem, has not been exposed to diverse life experiences, and is ill-versed on other topics to engage in intelligent discourse with others.
They Stifle Trust and Truth
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"Shade" has certainly warped into an excuse to say but not say something that really, well, needs to be said. I respect people who are direct, and I like knowing exactly who I'm dealing with. I can't trust people who consistently lean on "shade" when expressing themselves or who love talking about other people's business more than their own. When you can't keep it real with others, you oftentimes are not keeping it real with yourself. I've freed myself---mentally and spiritually---from unnecessary conflict, inner turmoil, and drama by simply being honest and clearly stating what and how I feel.
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As women, I think we have enough up against us---unequal pay, physical and mental abuse, high maternal mortality, sex trafficking… dare I stop?---than to add insult to injury by continuing to "spill tea" about one another. How much time do we waste spreading other people's intimate secrets, instigating lies and half-truths, or talking about other people in a way that is demeaning, overly critical, or embarrassing? Why not spend that time speaking life into our fellow women, coming up with business plans, praying to God, or volunteering? What impact do we make or legacy do we leave by wasting time gossiping? When "spilling tea", the motive is usually demoralizing, and it does not serve the greater good.
They Have Reached Their Expiration Date
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In the late '80s and early 90s, I would visit with my cousin in Brooklyn. She was a model, and I'd always watch in awe and admiration when she'd be with her friends from the fashion scene. Back then, I knew "shade" and "tea" as terms coined by vivacious, fabulous LGBT personalities and performers, and it was something part of the culture of vogue and club life. We all know that once a cool saying or trend goes mainstream, it just becomes bland, overused, and watered down. After that, it must be allowed to join the archives of pop culture and be revisited on TV specials about things that used to be a thing.
So many people are using the term 50 million times in everyday conversation, on TV, and on the Web that I'm prompted to gag in disgust. It's like being force fed chit'lins with extra hot sauce--enough already! Let's allow "shade" and "tea" to slowly fade away like flip phones and scrunchies. Many of us are too old to be letting slang dominate conversations anyway!
I hope anybody whose known for "throwing shade" or "spilling tea" will resolve to end the madness this year and re-up on better conversation skills, up-to-date vocabulary, and a hefty dose of kindness.
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