Hi, I’m a black woman. You’re probably taking an extra-long time to stare at me because I kind of look like someone you think you know. Maybe that black woman you used to work with ten years ago at your other job, or that black woman who sometimes waits for the bus at your stop. But the thing is, I look exactly like both of those other women, because I look just like every black woman you’ve ever seen.
I’ve been looking exactly like every other black woman in human existence for a while now. Since at least eighth grade, when the other, non-black eighth-graders tried to figure out what famous person they looked like at a sleepover. After they all decided they kind of resembled Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Aniston, they turned to me and decided that I looked exactly like Oprah and Janet Jackson. At the same time! And I was amazed, because they were right.
I look exactly like a number of other black female celebrities too. A quick check in the mirror this morning made it clear that I look just like Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, Ava DuVernay, Jada Pinkett Smith, Yara Shahidi, Issa Rae, Gayle King, Taraji Henson, Octavia Spencer, Yvette Nicole Brown, Robin Roberts, Zoe Saldana, Beyoncé, Halle Berry, Queen Latifah and Michelle Obama. And you know what? People have told me that I look exactly like each and every single one of them, which is correct. But I’ll always have a soft spot for the guy who saw me crossing the street in Harlem while wearing shorts and yelled “SERENA!” at the top of his lungs, because he didn’t want me to forget that I look like her too.
But I don’t just look like famous black women. I also resemble your black local news anchor, that black woman who works at your laundromat, that black half-second cousin twice removed of yours, that black woman nanny who watches the kids down the block, the black female teacher you had for seventh grade, that black woman you saw walking down the street once, and that black female competitive eater who downed fifty-two sticks of butter in a single sitting. That’s right. Black women can do anything. Including look like every single other black woman out there while shotgunning an amount of butter that would make twenty-six pies.
My resemblance to the other black women of the world wouldn’t be complete if it stopped with black women who are alive. I also look just like black women who’ve lived throughout history. Let me tell you, that trip to the club on a Saturday night just doesn’t feel right until someone pulls you aside on the dance floor to tell you that you look just like Harriet Tubman.
Thing is, sometimes I get sick of being mistaken for other black women, even though I look like all the other ones. But because I’m an adult who doesn’t have wrinkles yet thanks to my dark skin tone, I appreciate it when people switch it up by claiming that I look like black kids. Look, I didn’t think I could pass for thirteen, but some lady who couldn’t stop pointing at me in a coffee shop made the case for me looking just like her sister’s brother’s seventh cousin. And you know what? I do.