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I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual

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"A truth-riot of a book!"Shonda Rhimes

New York Times Bestseller
#1 Washington Post Bestseller
Redbook “20 Books By Women You Must Read this Fall” “17 New Best New Books to Read This Fall”
BookRiot “100 Must-Read Hilarious Books”
Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist

Comedian, activist, and hugely popular culture blogger at, Luvvie Ajayi, serves up necessary advice for the masses in this hilarious book of essays

With over 500,000 readers a month at her enormously popular blog,, Luvvie Ajayi is a go-to source for smart takes on pop culture. I'm Judging You is her debut book of humorous essays that dissects our cultural obsessions and calls out bad behavior in our increasingly digital, connected lives. It passes on lessons and side-eyes on life, social media, culture, and fame, from addressing those terrible friends we all have to serious discussions of race and media representation to what to do about your fool cousin sharing casket pictures from Grandma's wake on Facebook.

With a lighthearted, razor sharp wit and a unique perspective, I'm Judging You is the handbook the world needs, doling out the hard truths and a road map for bringing some "act right" into our lives, social media, and popular culture. It is the Do-Better Manual.

ISBN-13: 9781627796064

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Holt Henry & Company Inc.

Publication Date: 09-13-2016

Pages: 256

Product Dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.00(d)

Luvvie Ajayi is an award-winning writer, pop culture critic, and professional troublemaker who thrives at the intersection of comedy, technology and activism. She is the person who often says what you're thinking but dared not to because you have a filter and a job to protect. She is also a digital strategist, noted speaker and Executive Director of The Red Pump Project, a national HIV/AIDS organization.

Read an Excerpt

I'm Judging You

The Do-Better Manual

By Luvvie Ajayi

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2016 Luvvie Ajayi
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62779-607-1


Gosh, You're the Worst

There are some people who fall short in the "being thoughtful" department. They aren't being malicious, but they certainly tap-dance on people's last nerves with their shenanigans. These are the people who are perpetually late, take advantage of their friends in various ways, and children. We know them and love them and we keep them in our lives, but we sometimes wish that they would get their shit together.

There are two types of people in this world: people who can be on time and Nigerians. I am in the latter group, and I confess to my inability to arrive anywhere punctually. I am pretty sure I'll be late to my own funeral, doing a running jump into my casket like the inconsiderate jerk I am, right before the pastor tells everyone how awesome I was and the choir sings a rousing rendition of "I Luh God." Please tell everyone that the dress code is all red everything, and check with my best friend to see if you're on the list of people who aren't invited, because leave it up to me to be petty from the Great Beyond. If I didn't mess with you while I was here, I surely don't need to see your feet at my highly exclusive homegoing.

It really is terrible to be perpetually tardy for the party, and I am judging everyone who is, especially myself. I am the worst, like a stale Twizzler you find at the bottom of that purse you haven't carried in six months. When you take it out and try to chew it and it gets stuck in your teeth, you wonder how things have fallen so far apart. You really should have let it be, you greedy summagoat.

Some stereotypes are actual factuals, and the one about Nigerians not being on time for anything is one I won't even debate. You might be thinking, "Hey, that's not fair. You should not attribute certain behavior to an entire group of people!" You're right. I shouldn't. But I'm going to, because this is my book and I do what I want. Find me someone who is Nigerian who is always on time for things that aren't work-related and I will find you a Tyrese quote that makes perfect sense. They might exist, but they sure are rare.

Just beware. If you're hosting an event and you invite Nigerians, don't be surprised when we show up as everyone else is leaving. We'll stroll in three hours after the start time wondering why the lights are up. We'll be upset that no one got to see our cute outfits and you have no food left — you have some nerve not saving any for us. We even spent thirty minutes looking for that errant lid for the Tupperware we brought. Ugh. Selfish.

If you want us to be on time for anything, we have to be tricked into it. Baby shower at 5:00 p.m.? Print special invitations for your Nigerian friends that say, "Shower starts promptly at 3:00 p.m." We'll probably get there around 5:45. Similarly, if a Nigerian event is slated to begin at a certain time, don't expect it to begin for at least two hours afterwards. If you show up at the time it is supposed to start, you will walk in and see the host in pajamas and the interior designers still setting up. You might be invited to help finish unfolding the chairs and putting the plates on the tables. Make yourself useful, bro.

True story: I once went to a Nigerian wedding that was supposed to start at noon. My family members and I showed up at 2:00 p.m. (because we cannot be helped), thinking we would have missed the church ceremony and be on time for the reception (hell yes, cake!). Well, imagine our surprise when we walked into the church and everyone was sitting there waiting and no one was at the altar yet. Long story short, the wedding did not start until 3:30.

It's a vicious cycle of tardiness. Since you know that everyone will be late for a Naija event, even if you were planning to be on time, you don't want to be the only person there. So you sit at home on your couch fully dressed and opt to go late so you won't be the first person to arrive. And when you show up three hours late and you're one of only five people there, you remind yourself to arrive even later next time.

There is nothing that I've ever not been late for. I'm the person who shows up to the airport thirty minutes before my flight is supposed to leave, and ends up running through security like a madwoman. One time, I showed up as boarding started and heard my name being called over the intercom. I got through security, threw on my boots without tying them, and ran with all my might. I got about ten feet before I tripped on my laces and face-planted in the middle of O'Hare Airport in what felt like slow motion. I broke my shoelaces, and my dignity got drop-kicked through the goalposts of life. I made the flight, though! The lesson I learned from that experience wasn't to be more punctual; it was "Don't wear shoes with laces when you're flying." It's so bad that my friends now call running late for a flight "the Luvvie."

Clearly, shame be mad busy in my life. I have earned all the judgment. Now that it's in print, I have permanent proof that I should be ashamed of myself.

You know who else needs to be ashamed of themselves? Dinner scrooges.

Is there an event more painful than a group dinner where more than five people are present? Being in the club is no longer my cup of tea. Now, my idea of fun is a night at home on the couch binge-watching my bae, Netflix, while rocking the ugliest but most comfortable pajamas I can find (the fuzzier, the better). This is a standing date, and it must begin by 10:00 p.m. at the latest. I can let many people down, but not Netflix. We have a love thing.

So when it's someone's birthday, the most I can handle is usually dinner. Brunch is a close second because booze in the daytime seems to taste better. Plus, we're allowed to loiter in one place for a while. WIN.

The great thing about dinner is that you get to see the folks you've been promising to go out to lunch/coffee/drinks with all at once. The bad thing is that someone or multiple people will walk away pissed off. Why? Because of the inconsiderate beings who walk amongst us. I call them "dinner scrooges," because there's always a problem with them when it's time to open the wallet.

I hope you're not one of them, because someone ought to kick you in the shins if you are. There are three types of dinner scrooges:

Dinner Scrooge #1: The person who eats a lot and wants to split the bill equally

It's time to order, and most people will get an appetizer, an entrée, and a drink. But you get to Dinner Scrooge #1 and he orders three of everything. He needs that crab rangoon, the shrimp shumai, AND the cucumber salad. He couldn't pick just one starter. Then he gets the pad thai, the spicy basil leaves, and the curry noodles. Whatever, no one cares. He also wants the Thai iced tea and two strawberry mai tais. At this point, I'm pitying his porcelain throne and what he will do to it later, but YOLO and all that jazz.

We all eat, drink, and merry the heck outta the evening, and then the bill comes. Dinner Scrooge #1 is the first person to recommend that we all split the bill equally to make life easier ... on everyone.

The devil is a LIAR and a CHEAT and the truth ain't in him. No, sir! No, ma'am! No, Bob. What you're not gonna do is order the entire menu, order off the secret menu, and get some to take home so you won't have to cook through the week and then want everyone to subsidize your bill. All I got was that wilted kale salad that tasted like the tears of my disappointed ancestors and water with a lemon wedge that was probably dropped on the floor before it made it into the glass. I am not putting down $65.39 just because you wanted to let your inner glutton shine on that night. Nope! The fact that Dinner Scrooge #1 even fixed his mouth to suggest it makes you side-eye him, because this was his plan all along.

So he drops this "idea," and it gets quiet while everyone does calculations in their heads and notices that the only person with a take-home bag is Let's Split It Lonnie (aka Dinner Scrooge #1), and he's also kinda drunk, so there's proof that he had his fair share of alcohol. No one wants to be "that person" who calls out the bullshit, but I usually volunteer as tribute and bring up the unfairness and everyone else breathes a sigh of relief. If we had all ordered one of everything, it would make sense to split the bill equally. But you picked tonight to eat and drink your feelings on our dime, and we ain't having it. What we will do is break out these calculators and figure out roughly what everyone owes.

Anywho, have a seat! Wait, you're already sitting down. Stand up and then sit down again just for the purpose of reassessing yourself, your suspicious math, and how you treat your friends.

Dinner Scrooge #2: The person who calculates their bill to the cent

Sometimes it really is easier to split the bill and have everyone pay the same amount. Sometimes. The only time it works is when everyone eats comparable meals and everyone at the table is actually friends. (See Dinner Scrooge #1.)

Instead, there's usually that one person who insists that they had just so much less than everyone else, even when it's not true. The bill comes and they break out the phone and their restaurant-bill app and they calculate their food cost down to the cent. Somehow this person also manages to have change in their wallet. Who is carrying around thirty-seven cents exactly?! Are you someone's Grandma Beulah? Is that a two-dollar bill in your wallet? Who are you, and why are we friends?

Dinner Scrooge #2 puts down their exact change, looking smug that they've come prepared — Cheapskate Charlie face. And you know they always forget to include tax and tip. Unacceptable.

Dinner Scrooge #3: The person who leaves early and forgets to pay

Everyone is breaking bread and having a great time when that one person who is always busy says they must leave early. Oftentimes, I'm that person. Let me take this time to confess that it isn't always because I have something to do. I just don't feel like talking anymore and I'm one hour overdue for my personal Netflix marathon and fuzzy pajama time.

The early leaver grabs their coat, and in the midst of the good time everyone waves them off and gives air hugs and kisses. But when the bill comes, we all realize that Dinner Scrooge #3 forgot to pay their portion before bouncing. Okay, it's possible for this to happen once because we're all entitled to occasional absent-mindedness. Or maybe they are going through a rough time and are embarrassed — which is bad, but forgivable if it doesn't happen allatahm. But when this happens twice or three times with the same person, you realize that you are being duped and they can't be invited to group dinners anymore. They totally can't sit with us any longer.

I wish they would just be open and honest and let us know if they're going through a down time or a broke period. One of us can totally cover their meal, but they never let us know so we can temper our expectations.

I have to say, group dinners really can be painful. Even when no one is being shady with money, there always seems to be a shortage of it once the bill arrives. Either none of us can count, or ... yeah, I'm actually pretty sure that's a possibility. Math is hard.

* * *

In fact, don't invite me to a group dinner unless everyone has been told to bring cash, or there's a fixed menu. Or you know for a fact that I can get my own check, because I do not have time to spend two and a half hours eating a really fancy, bland dinner and then another hour trying to figure out the payment situation. I have a life to live, and I don't want to have to ask my eyebrow lady to come meet me at this restaurant because I've been there for three weeks trying to reconcile the maths. Thanks for understanding.

The only way a group dinner can be worse is if there are toddlers present. Let's be honest, toddlers are the worst. Those tiny humans are needy and they want your constant attention and then they need your help doing everything. They are so lazy. Then they have the nerve to cry and throw tantrums and be ungrateful. And you just want to ask them, "What have you done for me lately?" You don't want to negotiate with tiny terrorists, but you're in Target and they wanted that ball really bad and you don't want them to fall out in aisle 20 and make everyone look at you funny, so they win. Those mini-villains win every single time.

I am not immune.

One time I went shopping with my niece and she was such an angel in the car. She sang, she clapped, she made my ovaries do the wop because she was perfect. Then we stepped into the store and it was like she got possessed by an evil spirit of bad behavior. I got her into the cart and was weaving through the aisles, giddy about being in my Happy Place. I turned around to get something off the shelf — my back was only to her for twenty seconds tops, tops — and when I went to put my goodies into the cart, she was standing up in it.

How the hell did she do that so fast? She let herself out the seatbelt and somehow jumped up quick enough to be standing there looking like she just discovered America. She was so proud of herself, and there I was, slack-jawed. I plopped her right back down and buckled her seatbelt. Then I got real close to her face and whispered through gritted teeth, "You. Stay. Seated. Or. We. Will. Have. A. Major. Problem."

She looked frightened by this and chilled out. I was proud and thought to myself, I'm going to be an awesome mom, because I've already mastered the art of threats that are so palpable that you don't even need to speak them above whispers. But ten minutes later when we passed a toy aisle she spotted an Elmo doll, and it seemed like the store went silent right before she screamed, "I WANT ELMO! I WANT ELMO!" Y'all. Why must you show out like this in front of people, Little Jerk?

Toddlers are couthless. LORD. They are so couth-deficient. They'll tell you "those shoes look like my nightmares" without a second thought because your feelings don't matter to them. Yes, they might save you from embarrassing yourself when you go out in public by pointing out that you look like the radioactive stick they saw on their favorite TV show. But still. Toddlers are just short, mean teenagers. The only real difference is that toddlers are still cute, so we can deal with them better. That cuteness is the reason we get all attached to them in spite of their shenanigans, so by the time they grow up, we feel all responsible for them and whatnot. It's really a conspiracy.

Between our perpetual lateness, our failing at dinner parties, and the tiny tyrants we allow to boss us around, we are the worst, and I'm judging us all.


Why Must You Suck at Friendship?

Friends are the bonus gifts of life because they are the people who are closest to us who aren't really required to be there. They're not bound by blood, and they won't be at the family reunion, so you can drop them if you need to with no problem. Unless you're roommates, in which case you're bound by a lease, and did they really have to GChat you to tell you the rent is due like you haven't been on time every month? I mean, that's just ridiculous. Ugh.

Good friends are often our lifelines. Mine have seen me through heartbreak, through the deaths of loved ones, and through that phase in college when I was obsessed with denim jumpsuits and matching fingerless gloves. They stayed by my side in spite of the fact that I chose to look like bad decisions and Levi's factory remnants. For this, I am forever indebted to my BFFs. But just as there are those amazing compadres who make our lives better with their presence, there are also those who might be bringing down our property value.

Friendship is a two-way street, and some people block the way like a parked U-Haul truck in the middle of your road of friendship so school busses can't get past, and that's just rude. Although life doesn't have actual violation tickets, some people should get the boot. Some folks don't deserve nice things, like matching "Friends Forever" bracelets.

I am judging those of us who are these friends:

The friend who competes with me (The Competitor)

It is said that we are the sum of the five people we hang out with the most. This means we should draw inspiration from our closest friends, seeing their growth and triumphs as a push to be better ourselves. But then there's the friend who I like to call The Competitor. This is a person who feels like their life is in direct competition with others', and any win for someone else means they must trump it. Do not be this friend, because we're not all in the same race, so why do you think we're in the same lane?

It happens like this: Something fantastic happens, and you pick up the phone to tell The Competitor. They applaud you momentarily and then they remind you of something they did that was similar, but at a higher level. Every single time. They're so used to doing it that they don't even realize it, and you start telling them your good news less and less.


Excerpted from I'm Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi. Copyright © 2016 Luvvie Ajayi. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


Table of Contents

Introduction New Rules for a New World 1

Part I Life

1 Gosh, You're the Worst 7

2 Why Must You Suck at Friendship? 16

3 When Baehood Goes Bad 27

4 Under the Knife 38

5 Weight a Minute 49

6 Don't Be Pigpen 59

Part II Culture

7 Racism Is for Assholes 69

8 The Privilege Principle 82

9 Zamunda Is Not a Country. Neither Is Africa 92

10 Rape Culture Is Real and It Sucks 106

11 Nobody Wins at the Feminism Olympics 118

12 Homophobia Is Geigh 130

13 #FixltJesus#BindltBuddha#AmendltAllah 139

Part III Social Media

14 #Hashtag#l#Hate#Your#Hashtag#Abuse 155

15 Your Facebook Is My Favorite Soap Opera 161

16 For Shame: Get Some eBehavior 172

17 Dumbed-Down News 178

18 How to Succeed at Business Failure 187

19 Real Gs Move in Silence 195

Part IV Fame

20 About Microwave Fame 205

21 So You're Kind of a Big Deal on the Internet 211

22 On Sex Tapes 216

23 The Unreal World 221

Epilogue Do Something That Matters 229

Acknowledgments 239