Can You Be Honest With Your Friends?

My sister is a person whom one might define as socially awkward. While neither of us possess the gift of tact, I have become slightly more adept a maneuvering unfamiliar social situations, whereas she avoids them wherever and whenever possible. We both have the same handicap: that being that we don’t possess a filter. Whereas most people know that it constitutes poor manners to point out a hanger from a perfect stranger’s nose, we feel it is our civic duty to not only bring attention to the offensive item, but to introduce it to any other would-be spectator and random passersby.

Fortunately in my old age I have learned to bridle my tongue – at least somewhat – and curb my impulse to point out the defects in others, be they friends or strangers. A-Dub has not mastered this skill yet, so she has opted for silence. While my adroitness at this new skill has afforded me with a growing list of new congenial acquaintances, her failure to do so has resulted in an inverse problem. I have to decide how many people I can afford to let into my circle, while she has to decide how many people she can afford to let out. She calls this number an “optimal number of friends.”

While extroverts gather friends in every city and country they travel to, introverts tend to keep the same friends they have known the majority of their life time. Extroverts shop for friends like trinkets, while introverts collect them like treasure. My sister fits in this latter group. That’s why the conversation she had with a friend a few weeks ago put her in somewhat of a quagmire. It was contrary to everything that was part of her nature.

Her friend (we’ll just call her ‘Shequan’) is very fashionable. I’ve seen pictures of Shequan, and she fits nicely into a certain prototype. Being a large, or curvy, Black woman in a major urban area, she has adopted the persona of a ‘diva’ complete with hair extensions and full glam make-up. She is also a regular shopper on an online retailer that makes replicas of celebrity outfits that translate into mainstream life. The sell for this site is that all the garments are true to size, i.e. no matter your bust, waist or hip measurements, if you wear a size 6, you should be able to fit into any size 6 garment on their racks.

Shequan –who is now 7 months pregnant – had purchased a jumpsuit that was replicated after something that Beyonce wore last season. After getting it in the mail and trying it on, Shequan was completely miffed.

“I’m so angry!” she complained to my sister. “I spent a lot of money on that outfit, and it doesn’t fit right.”

My sister was very sympathetic. Being a spend thrift AS WELL as an introvert (I have resisted the urge to call her a hermit and a miser, you should be proud to note), nothing pains her more than seeing money wasted on an item one cannot use. And what is more useless than a dress that you can’t wear?

“I’d send it back,” she said emphatically. “I don’t care how good it looked when you got it out the box.”

Her friend nodded in agreement, disappointment clouding her continence.

“I just feel like I was lied to,” she continued. “This was clearly false advertising. There is NO WAY that this is anybody’s size 12.”

A-Dub bit her lip and choked down the words she so desperately wanted to say next. They tasted like bile as they slid back down her throat.

No, sweetie, they are somebody’s size 12…just not yours.

You see, Shequan is a solid size 20, and incidentally two sizes bigger than yours truly. Yours truly knows better than to kid herself into thinking she has any business sniffing around a size 12 anything – unless it’s 12 scoops of ice-cream. And it’s not that Shequan is some questionable hood rat character – quite the contrary. She is an accomplished Black woman with a degree… she just makes questionable fashion choices.

After Shequan returned the offensive item, she invited my sister to go shopping with her in order to remedy the wrong that had been done to her. She made a beeline for the juniors section, calling for A-Dub to join her over there.

“Naw…I’m just going to go to the misses section,” she said in a way that would encourage Shequan to join her. “They make allowances for women with hips….”

She let her voice trail off. Shequan did not take the bait.

“Girl, aint no way nothing over there would fit me,” she sniffed. “I’m a junior 15 at the most.”

A-Dub just nodded her head and continued her window shopping. What was the point in arguing with this high school student trapped in Grandma’s ample bosomed body? After all, she had an optimal number of friends to keep, and losing Shequan’s camaraderie by telling her she was too fat to be shopping in Juniors’ would upset that delicate balance.

 I think she’s being a worse friend my letting this grown woman walk around in too tight booty shorts and low cut tops, but that’s just me. Can you tell your friends the truth? Can you even afford to?? Are you a better friend if you let them wallow in happy ignorance, or pull them out by the crack of their junior sized denim shorts? I’m at Barnes & Noble with my coffee. I can’t wait to hear this!

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25 thoughts on “Can You Be Honest With Your Friends?

  1. energyadvocate

    I tend to pick which friends to tell the truth and which to lie to (read, leave to wallow in ignorance)…I find that some of my friends have ‘changed’ over the years, becoming less touche about things and therefore liberating me to be completely honest with them.
    P.S. my more ‘personal’ blog is lynntu.blogspot.com

  2. African Mami (@afrikanmami12)

    Yes, I can tell my friends the truth, without hurting their feelings. That is very important. The way the message is conveyed and delivered. My best friend till death do us part, is very conscious about her body, and she is always finding something wrong with her outward appearance. I have addressed this issue with her head on, and asked her why she is so hard on herself. It broke my heart, when she told me that her confidence was attached to her looks. This young lady has the MOST beautiful spirit, I’ve ever seen in an individual. Happy go lucky. Just everything I need in a bestie. So, I was like alright, you have a problem with your weight, we are going to do something about it. I told her that I was willing to adjust my schedule to accommodate exercise with her, and probably seek out a nutritionist to shed some insight on diet issues. She wanted to loose weight in a jiffy moment, as opposed to it being a gradual process, therefore never took me up on my suggestion. However, she KNOWS that I’m always here for her if and when she changes her mind.

    Are you a better friend if you let them wallow in happy ignorance, or pull them out by the crack of their junior sized denim shorts?

    No. You are just an enabler of disillusion and grandiose dreams galore. Went shopping with my baby girl and she tried on a dress that had her bursting all out of the place. I kindly whispered in her ear that she did not look good in the dress. There’s no need to embarrass a dear friend in front of a sales person.

    It’s all about tact and character.

    Beautiful post, Malaka.

  3. malota

    I can tell my friends the truth but it wouldn’t be all the time. If the truth can cause major problems i will surely think twice before saying it

  4. Andrew

    Haha…that post got me laughing. Depending on the level of friendship, I will tell the person. Otherwise, I go with the balance of life…not unnecessarily tipping it. Funny though I am always on the receiving end from my friends, and they are very blunt about it. Then again, my gf tells me that looking bad reflects bad on her…so hey, I take it as it comes when I pick that yellow and fuschia coloured shirt 🙂

    1. African Mami (@afrikanmami12)

      I like your non-nonchalant attitude. Unfortunately, for women if I may speak for most of us, it’s a different ball game. Some of us tend to be overly emotional, others have a dgaf attitude, but never really one that is balanced. You have to carefully assess the situation before striking and hurting her feelings-in my opinion.

      1. Andrew

        Am not being flippant/casual in regard to women…far from it. That’s why I often end up on the safe side of being quiet. What I meant was in regard to myself…sometimes my taste is off (or just not up to par I would say) and she doesn’t hesitate to tell me.

          1. Andrew

            Haha..ok..the points are married. And yes Malaka, fuchsia is a splendid colour on pants…to boot with a yellow shirt and sparkling (insert colour) shoes

    2. NM

      @Andrew: Your beloved is right, you are a representation of her as she is of you. LOL @ Yellow and fuschia…it all depends….if it’s a checkered shirt perhaps, not so much if it’s a Hawaiian shirt of some sort.

      1. Andrew

        Aaah, guess who’s back into the MoM fraternity! You mean there can actually be something right in yellow and fuchsia…I will report that finding immediately

        1. NM

          Oh dear, LOL! I can’t wait for these findings. Yes to anything with checkers, lines(preferably horizontal)….big fat no to anything flowery….unless it’s a dress.

          P.S: I never left….just kinda kept an eye on things from my perch. 🙂

          1. Andrew

            Errm…no dresses and flowery stuff. I got you – I will revert with any findings worth reporting. And yes, I went asking about you…being family and all,hehe…but I understand how cosy the perch is!

            1. NM

              Did you really? Am tickled fuschia you did. 🙂 & you kind sir are among my absolute favorite cyber personae.

              P.S Correction: Make that vertical lines, not horizontal…don’t know what I was thinking. lol! I hope you are keeping dry with all that flooding going on at home.

            2. Andrew

              Haha…am honoured NM. And yes, because horizontal ones would make me look fat…sigh, weekend lessons. Keeping dry, but not at home, in Holland..where the rain only stops when you’re indoors (never)

  5. NM

    Do I tell my friends the truth? Yes, always! Delivery is key though. I’ve learned over the years that advice can be sound and have the recipients best interest at heart, but it falls on deaf ears if it’s caustic, judgmental and delivered with a know-it-all attitude.

  6. Stella Juma

    Thanks Malaka for you writes,they are really inspiring.I read all the mail you send me.I am something between an introvert and extrovert sometimes they intertwine and i get anguished at how my personality has no stability.I always tell my close friends the truth and in a nice way so that they can still be my friend tomorrow.I have this friend call her Nina,i like her lots but we always disagree when it come s to attention especially from men.I am a black learned big Kenyan woman and i got some dressing idea,she has this nice trim body that all women in Kenya crave for and spend loads of cash trying to get there,my point,whenever we hang out for a drink n dance i get lots of offers for a dance and my business cards go in plenty,Nina calls all the men losers since her according to her,she should be the better option,i have told her several times that it is her know all learned attitude and the fact that she believes her body should speak for itself that drags her behind,if only she could smile back be polite and accept a dance,but so is life and she so my friend,we have to keep telling our friends and family the truth but in a polite and acceptable way

  7. siaj won

    great post..loved it.I always describe myself as a cross between an introvert and an extrovert..By your description above the scale is leaning heavily on introvert.I think a true friend should always be honest and use tact.Maturity dictates that we use tact in addressing certain situations.Recently I got offended with a friend when I decided to take off my tights/pantyhose while sitting down in her living room(we are close and I didnt think anything was wrong).Then she blurted out make sure your naked butt does not touch my sofa.I don’t like that!”I was upset with her because that really wasn’t necessary.However she is a good friend who will always speak the truth in love.

  8. David S.

    Aei!!! Aei!! Is this what you have to deal with when you socialize with other human beings? Thank God I am a hermit.

    *** turns around and goes back into his cave **

  9. adetokunbohr

    I guess it’s best to always tell ’em the truth.Some other times silence appears to be a likeable option if you don’t want to hurt them. Even at that shouldn’t we just tell them -tactfully- even it’s going to hurt.Friendship can’t be all about laughter all the time.Telling a lie isn’t an option,anyway.

  10. amriba

    Malaka guuuurrrl its time for a new post! Git on it!! lol….missing you here. Preferably one about the kids loool Stone’s stories always make me smile.

  11. NinaG

    wow I am def like your sis LOL – a miser and a hermit. Your post is hilarious b/c I kno I don’t tell the truth to everyone

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