When I was a young girl, like you–I dreamed of a tall dark and handsome man to sweep me off my feet. I wanted to be like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.” I wanted her innocence and expertise, long curly red hair and gracious smile. The scene where Richard Gere gazed upon her long crimson locks as she slept, stuck in my mind like a math equation I couldn’t solve.
I was just 13 when I first saw the Garry Marshall-directed film. I didn’t realize how unromantic prostitution really was, nor how unattractive it is to pencil in your thigh-high boots on Hollywood Boulevard, or how difficult it is to drive stick. Life would soon teach me lessons that would make “Pretty Woman” a pretty lie–at least in my world.
I am Black–a young black woman to be exact, and though I still wish to be whisked away in a ravishing ruby gown I didn’t pay for, and reenact the famous diamond necklace scene that earned Roberts an Academy Award nomination, I realize, if “Pretty Woman” were Black, things would have gone a lot differently!
We at HelloBeautiful appreciate a good chick-flick, despite their tendency to be unrealistic, misogynistic and irrelevant to “black life.” Therefore, we have vowed to redesign classic white movies with a black woman in the leading role. There’s just a certain level of “realness” when dealing with a black woman that would change the script of a film entirely! If you don’t believe us, keep reading:
Richard picked Roberta up in his brand new Lotus. The engine roared with vigor. She stepped inside, inhaling the sweet new car scent. He pulled off, rejoining traffic but swerved as he shifted into second gear.
Roberta: You can’t drive?
Richard: I just got this car, haven’t mastered the gears yet. Do you drive stick?
Roberta: Hell No! Didn’t nobody tell you buy this expensive sh*t anyway. Call a cab or something, the bus back to my place stops running at 2:13 am, if I’m not on it. There will be problems.
Richard: I will see to it that you get home safely. I will drive you.
Roberta: I’m not giving you any gas money!
Richard: (Blank Stare)
The Drug Scene
Richard watched as Roberta disappeared into the bathroom. Unlike his last visitor, her bottom was round, thick and protruding from her backside. He licked his lips, waiting impatiently in his boxers and checker print tie. What is taking her so long? He wondered. He softly pushed the wash room door open to find Roberta perched on the toilet seat with green leaves resting on the edge of the sink.
Roberta: Oh my God, don’t you knock ?
Richard: Are you doing drugs?
Roberta: No… Just rolling some weed.
The Shopping Scene
Roberta awoke the next day with a throbbing pain in her lower back. Richard was only interested in sex from behind. On the bed, beside her pocketbook was a black card. She stored it in her bra, then exited the fancy hotel room faster than she came. She dialed her best friend and told her about her night. As she walked through the lobby of the busy condominium, a police officer stopped her.
Officer: Excuse me, you don’t look like you belong here.
Roberta: Why? Cause I’m Black?
Officer: No. Because you have on a stripper’s outfit and boots that look like they’ve been colored in with a crayon.
Roberta rolled her eyes and kept on her path to Rodeo Drive. After her encounter with the law, she realized she needed a new look. She was greeted by a blonde sales associate in the first boutique she saw.
Sales Associate: Can I help you?
Roberta: I don’t know, can you?
Sales Associate: I don’t know if we have anything that will fit your taste. Please leave!
Roberta: B***h please! Go set me up a dressing room for me before I turn it up in here!
Taken aback by her brutish language, the sales associate summoned her manager who then instructed her to follow Roberta and keep an eye on her. Even though she was afraid, she obliged by her supervisor’s orders.
Roberta: I am not the one you better stop following me!
The obnoxious woman did as she was told. After calming herself down with a pep talk, Roberta finished shopping. She had an audience as she approached the register with several fine garments draped over her arm. The associates name tag read Veronica.
Veronica: Are you finished, mam?
Roberta: Ew, you have a nasty attitude. How much do I owe you?
Roberta: That’s it, hold on let me get my card.
Roberta shuffled through her large bag, forgetting she put the card in her bosoms. She eventually recalled it’s location then handed the plastic bank to an impatient Veronica.
Veronica: ID please…
Roberta: Here you go!
Veronica: This isn’t your card.
Roberta: It’s my…
Roberta paused. How could she explain that she is a prostitute and her trick gave her money to go shopping?
Veronica: “I’m going to have to call the police”
Roberta ended up in jail for credit card theft and Richard, afraid his colleagues would find out about the black prostitute he purchased, pressed charges on her! Roberta returned to her job on Hollywood Blvd.
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