"It's Just a Little Crush" - Jennifer Rush

Recently, while I was sitting at my desk checking my social media on company time (what a rush!), I found myself getting lost in the Instagram archives of a young South African actress. As I went further and further into the history, I felt myself growing more and more interested in her. Her tattoos, her friends, her selfies, her band, her life. After about ten minutes of this I realised I was getting a strange kind of pleasure from looking at her. It was as if I liked her in more than a detached “she was in that one movie that other year” way.

I mean, I don’t know if there are any studies about how long it takes to develop a crush, but that afternoon I definitely started feeling something towards this woman. So I’ve spent some time trying to put a name to this something.

In pop culture parlance, this would probably be called a “girl crush”. Before I go any further I want to make it clear that I completely agree with Mindy Lahiri: saying “girl crush” is stupid; saying “crush” does not automatically imply homosexuality. (Also, who cares if it does?)

So yes, I think I have a crush on this woman. She’s beautiful, she’s confident, she seems like a really fun person to be around, and she is talented. Who wouldn’t want that? It is that simple, and also that complicated.

Yes, I like her, but the way society is set up, you can’t like someone without acting on it in some way, e.g. more online stalking, fangirling on your TL, moving into the DMs, or making any other kind of proposition. That means a crush is not understood free from, or outside of, some expression of sexuality.

Therefore, if you say you have a crush on someone, people expect you to do something about it, and whatever that is, is supposed to be in line with the sexual identity which you have previously declared or expressed. This cuts off people’s options because you’re only “supposed” to like certain people and that’s why phrases with disclaimers like “girl crush” (and “no homo”) exist.

We (heterosexual people) always feel the need to make sure everyone else knows just how straight we are. I’ve never heard a homosexual person saying “no hetero”.

Without straying too far from my point, I’m saying it’s weird that I had these feelings about a woman and immediately started suspecting myself of some or other wrongdoing.

Back to my crush. I realise that this kind of intense interest (or infatuation) has a lot to do with the things I wish I had in myself. That is, I was attracted to her because she was showing me all the things I wish I had, the things I hope to have one day. The confidence, especially, which I believe fuels everything else in her life, and which I have yet to master. The openness, honesty and vulnerability that she has is enviable. It means that she is in control.

These are the things that draw me to her, and make me want to share my energy with her. Whether this sharing of energy would involve sexual intimacy is anyone’s guess, but honestly even if we met for tea and talked about all our favourite things and then exchanged numbers, I would be fine. Because then I would have had the chance to get to know her a little better – and isn’t that what crushes are ultimately about, the deep desire to get to know someone and have them in your life?

So because I am someone who enjoys being obsessed with things and people that are out of reach, I have this list of women I am low-key but high-key in love with:

  • Rihanna – I’m mentioning her first because she means the most to me. She with her star tattoo, perfect face, and irresistible allure. I have several (several) pictures of her on my phone, just for inspiration or a quick pick me up.
  • Taraji P. Henson – the example I need to follow if I want to be the best version of myself after 30. The attitude, and again the confidence. Also, this gif set:
  • Thishiwe Ziqubu – have you seen Hard to Get? Or It’s Complicated? Thishiwe is a really talented actress that I have mentioned before, and whose trajectory I am keenly interested in.
  • Issa Rae – she is me, I am her.

There are others, but this is not a round-up of my favourite black women in the arts and why I love them – that will come later. The point here is that I will welcome crushes on amazing women who give me hope for my own future and make me think about how I can be better forever and always.