The Sliding Scale of Bouge

So I was talking to my girl T (shout out to the Bay Area) last night; she was sharing a dating disaster (brother wanted to go straight from 'nice to meet you' to sampling the cupcake… tactical fail) when she said something that really caught my attention. She said, "I mean I'm a little bougie but not as bougie as you."

On the flip side, this morning I received an email from my girl C (another Bay Area hat tip) asking for my BBQ rib recipe. Does being a master rib-griller make me more or less bouge?

Hmm, I wondered, could there be levels of bouge and if so, am I on the far end of the scale or sliding back and forth on a regular basis? Assuming that the other end of the scale is ghetto, what makes up what comes in between? Looks like we're going to have to delve deeper into bouge.

I've created the sliding scale of bouge as a quick barometer. It will also come in useful when we play How Bougie Is This?

But I won't dive into this one alone. We need audience participation on this one. A few questions on the elements of bouge:

Arts and Entertainment:

  • Is singing along to La Traviata more bougie than rapping every word of Li'l Jon?

  • Shouldn't everyone be able to recite along with Miss Celie from the Color Purple?

  • If the Obama family shines a positive light on the African-American community, can we all agree that BET does not? In other words, BET is the Anti-Bouge?!


  • The polo has been adopted by everybody so I'm calling polo regular. Ghetto-fabulous folks are all up in haute couture these days. Are khakis still essentially bouge? Is Baby Phat less than bouge? Is Armani uber-Bouge? If all of this is true, I can only assume Rarest Bouge involves having silk worms bred for the sole purpose of providing material to lay across your pampered hindparts?

  • Can we all just agree that clear heels only belong on the stroll and the stripper pole?

  • Baggy pants that sag off your behind need to be outlawed. Is there any reason for men to wear skinny jeans?


  • What side of the scale does screaming expletive-filled drama in the middle of the street fall into?

  • Do we all know our manners but only bougie people adhere to them?

  • Let me just ask this – have you ever been in line behind someone of the not-so-bougie persuasion when they commenced to cutting up and acting a fool in the store? And then you have to be extra nice to the salesperson so as not to have your Vanilla Latte spat into?


  • Let's say ghetto children get their asses whopped, regular kids get spanked and bougie children are disciplined. Should a parent be able to do this (within reason) in public without somebody calling Child Protective Services?


  • All around agreement that dropping out in 3rd grade is just an all-around fail and has no place on the scale, right?

  • Can a person possess a J.D., and M.D. and a PhD and still not be bougie?


  • Where does gainful employment fit into the scale? Living in Madere's basement at 35 waiting on your unemployment check may not seem bougie but in these economic times, can we say that sometimes you need to suspend your bouge? Like if that's what it take for you to get back out there and get your upwardly mobile on, we won't kick you out the club.

  • Working at Micky D's while you are on your way up – we'll call that regular. Still dunking fries after five years deserves a slide towards ghetto, would you agree? I mean dude, at least work your way up to the register.

Family Pedigree

  • Don't you think just about anybody can be ghetto, regardless of who in their family came over on the Mayflower (in chains) or lived in Martha's Vineyard?

Food & Drink Choices

  • It's not so much the what but the where and how. Let me know if you agree. A bottle of 2002 Chandon Blanc et Noir sipped out of a champagne flute with peach schnapps during afternoon tea is slotted on the high end of the bougie scale. Now take that same bottle, put a Slurpee straw in it and have a bridegroom waving it over his head as he pimp walks down the aisle saying,"Bout to rock this wedding thing, ya'll!"… now that's ghetto (and a true story, I'm sad to report).

  • Dare I say it? Fried chicken. Good at a dinner table, great at a picnic. Bad clasped in one hand while you navigate traffic with the other.

  • Okay sometimes it is the what – as a commenter said earlier, I've yet to see a foie gras drive through in the hood.


  • We call all co-sign that Welfare is NOT bouge?

  • Inherited wealth (the kind you cannot spend in two lifetimes) is the Rarest Bouge? Or can you have that much money and still be ghetto?

Leisure Time

  • Normally I would say Four Seasons- Bouge, Holiday Inn- Ghetto. However, back in my high-rolling days I saw so many hoody people up in the Four Seasons it made me realize that like bouge, ghetto is a state of mind.

  • Would we agree that Bougie Folks (and wannabes) travel overseas?

Tomorrow, we'll start reflecting on WBPD (What Bougie People Do). Let me know if there are things I left out or sliding scale comparisons you'd like to share.