BLUSHING Synonyms: 99 Similar and Opposite Words

Author: Marina

Mar. 07, 2024

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Tags: Beauty & Personal Care

as in glowing

to develop a rosy facial color (as from excitement or embarrassment)

she blushed when she realized she had walked into the boys' bathroom by mistake

 Answer: You don’t. You write about the emotions behind the act ….

This something I’ve seen brought up over and over in the last months since Black Panther and is something we need to address. But instead of beating you over the head, I’m going to try to be helpful and tell you how to write a POC or a black person doing the act of “blushing.”

I feel like we’ve reached the point that we need to have a solution to this problem and not another post in how wrong it is. I think you get it now and I’m not about to repeat it. It’s not conducive to either of our precious time.

But you are probably thinking….“But how do I do it?”

So to begin, POC ie. black people, do not blush in the conventional sense. The usual ideas of a character’s skin turning color or lack thereof based on an emotional response….. just do me a favor, throw that entire rule book out the window.

Just toss it…it won’t work for this.

When you write a non-POC character you can capsulated all the emotions of the character into one statement, “She blushed….” What you are really saying is, “She turned red, she fidgeted, she got embarrassed…etc…” all in one statement.

But the trick for a POC is to write about the emotions behind the act of “blushing.” Unpack it all if you will. We don’t change colors so you have really spell it out. Think about the emotion you are trying to convey:

Why did she blush? What was she doing while “blushing”? Think about what you do when you blush. Think about all the quirks that go along with blushing. I’m sure you are doing something more than turning red.

For example was she…

  • Laughing? (How? It isn’t a good hardy laugh I would think.)
  • Did she get hot? (You could write that she felt an unexpected warmth flood her body)
  • What were her eyes doing? Are they darting around?
  • Does she fidget?

So for a POC, it becomes something like, “She chortled once, her eyes unable to meet his as she fidgeted bringing her hand to her mouth” or “Slowly she lowered her eyes and looked off, unconsciously hugging her arm to her body.”

Both capture the tone of embarrassment or shyness but as a POC doesn’t turn red you have to think about what else they are doing or feeling in that moment and write that.

Now, if you need a short version of “She blushed” for a person of color, and then you could use, “She glowed….” When black people “blush” there is a kind of glow that happens to our skin so saying this would be acceptable.

However, I might still tack on some extra movement/emotion and not just leave it at “she glowed”. I don’t normally say this alone. I usually use this in conjunction with the emotion I’m writing out but you might be able to get away with it. I’d have to read it in context with the story. But I would find this more acceptable if you say “She glowed” and kept it moving rather than “She blushed…”

Also while I’m here and I have your attention want to address a non-POC “paling." 

I read an "M'Baku paled….”

I admit it threw me off (read, I don’t get triggered easily but that time I did).

Please, please, understand we cannot pale six ways from Sunday.  Whether you give us the deepest fright or we get sick….

This is again trying to put the emotions into the changing of our skin tone, which we don’t have.

Again like the “blushing”, the emotions behind the “paling” must be thought about. What did the character pale for?

  • Was it in fright? (“His eyes widened as he jumped back. He tried hard to stop feeling disoriented from the sudden fright.”)
  • Was it in disgust? (“He wrinkled his nose as his mouth turned downward. He felt his stomach rebel….”)

Also as a bonus, we are going to address a POC getting sick because invariably it’s going to come up. When we are sick our pallor doesn’t lose color like a non-POC. We don’t look pale or our lips turning blue. What we lose is the vitality we have, the healthy glow our skin has.

So while writing a non-POC you can write that their skin was pale and lips either blue or pale depending on the situation.

But with a POC that concept would look something like: “Her usually vibrant mocha skin no longer glowed and felt clammy to the touch.”

If the character is really sick or dying or has been for some time you can talk about the sunken cheeks or something akin to weight loss. That is acceptable.

Not to get too morbid, but I have seen loved ones in a coffin and usually, they look asleep. Even though they are dead, they look so much like themselves that they look asleep. Perhaps keeping this in mind might help you write a sick POC.

Much of the changing of emotional state happens inward with a POC and not necessarily visible with our skin tone. Now, this could be challenged by black people who are extremely fair-skinned, in which case you might get away with them paling or blushing. But this was written from the standpoint of a POC that has an ounce of color in their skin. (All of Wakanda I’ve seen thus far…)

I wrote a Jupiter Ascending fanfic that utilized many of these concepts. The female character was played by Rihanna who had a golden hue (which is what I wrote as the character of Amoya) but even then I stayed away from any mentions of blushing and paling. Even when she got sick in the second installment I used some of the concepts for how to write them sick. 

I really hope this was helpful. If you are writing a POC and there is something here you don’t understand, message me and ask. I won’t bite. I hope that gives another avenue in how to think about a POC doing the same act but writing them in a more truthful way.

Remember if nothing else the golden rule:

“Write about the emotions behind the act, not summarize the act itself.”

BLUSHING Synonyms: 99 Similar and Opposite Words

How to write POC “blushing”…

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