Clearly, I have been a black girl/woman all my life. However, I was never really okay with it growing up, until I moved to Brooklyn, NY. Now, Brooklyn itself is not a large part of the story, but what I ran away from and what I found when I got here, was the game changer. But we will get there soon. Let’s start from the beginning.
As many of you old readers and friends know, I grew up in small, mostly white town, being one of the only black girls -black families- in the neighborhood until about Middle School. I always felt different because my hair was thicker than that of my friends. I was darker, obviously. I was taller, thicker, bigger, etc. I constantly asked my mom to let me thin my hair. As I grew up, I was ashamed of how large my thighs were, to the point where I went for not one but TWO consultations to get them shaved down somehow. I wore long sleeve shirts in the summer time because I was embarrassed to get darker. I hated being called darky or blacky or even dark chocolate. I was always seen as aggressive and, while people liked me, people didn’t often want to be around or hang out with me. All this came to “good use” when I started playing and excelling at basketball, but that isn’t the route we are going.
Anyways, I know that many black girls and women have learned to hate various things about their bodies, especially those things that have not been mainstream in the media and in the modeling world. Many of us have thick thighs, maybe bushier eyebrows, fuller lips and thicker hair. And while white girls in the media are always trying to achieve these things, black girls are conditioned to hate themselves for these same, natural qualities. We are literally taught to hate or lessen ourselves the older we get. Shout out to those queens and parents who have been taught to love themselves from the get-go. For the rest of us, late is better than never.
For the young girl reading this, or the young girl within the woman reading this, here are some things that I wish I would have known or appreciated about my body when I was younger, but glad to have learned when I got older.
- Thick thighs save lives!: Now, I don’t know why that is a saying, but I love and use it when needed! After wanting to cut away at them, I loveeee my big ole thunder thighs. That’s muscle girl, not fat.
- Speaking of muscle, Your athleticism is beautiful. Let it intimidate people: Being fit and being healthy should never be frowned upon. Strength is not a bad thing and it’ll come in handy when trying to school these boys on the court for their money!
- You make the hair, the hair does not make you: Yo, love your fucking hair. IT WAS GIVEN TO YOU! Work it, however YOU life it. If you want to have a fro, have a damn fro. If you want to be bald, be bald. Don’t let media and folks tell you how you “should” have your hair.
- If someone does not like/love you for you, then they need to go, period: the body is a vessel. The kind, caring, dope as person on thee inside, that runs that body, is more important than what somebody THINKS you should look like. This is also true for people that ONLY like you because of how you look. BYEEE!
- You might not look like everyone else around you, but there is nothing wrong with you: Who decided that being different from those around you was a bad thing? Being one of the only black kids didn’t make me crazy or ugly.
- Sunlight is key for survival: So what you get darker. If you want to be in the damn sun, be in the sun. You literally need it and Vitamin D makes benefits your brain functioning and your mood. [Maybe that contributed to why I was so angry]
- People love you, but your focus is elsewhere, so you cannot see it or feel it: I don’t care what you say, there are people all around us that like and love us. They may not like or love us in the way you think you want, but people care for us. When our attentions are focused elsewhere, on things we don’t like, though, then it is hard for us to feel that love because we do not have it for ourselves.
Being in Brooklyn, around so many other dope black souls, meeting teammates that grew up similar to me and were on the same journey, and teaching black and brown students, really helped me see parts of myself for what they were; Regardless of the fact that I was trying to run from everything natural to me. There is something to be said about being around your people, sharing experiences with your people, and being able to talk with your people. Sometimes you have to leave where you are and figure out where you are going. Sometimes you need a role model or mentor that looks like you and understands. Sometimes you just need to read a blog to bring out the power in you, some reassurance.
Learn to love the body you are in. Learn to love YOU. There won’t be anyone as good at being your or looking like you than YOU.
Positivity, growth, and all the things,