SHE MOVES B F

She Moves

"I grew up despising my body because it seemed to draw too much attention to myself before I fully understood what sex or seduction even was...I just wanted to keep winning dance contests and jumping double dutch without having to hold my body in place with one arm." #ProtecttheBlackWoman #protectBlackgirls

She rolled her forehead forward and slowly tip toed up the wall into a headstand. At the age of three, I watched this beautiful Black heroine teach herself tumbling in my narrow two-bedroom apartment hallway. For weeks, she twisted and jolted her body into new movements I hadn’t seen before. With each new pose, her excitement and talent strengthened. I had no choice…as soon as I was financially able, I enrolled her into gymnastics.

It wasn’t until we actually started the weekly sessions that I realized my stomach was turning. Here she was in a traditional leotard rolling her small frame over the multi-colored mats while I cringed at the thought that my daughter’s body was on display for all to see. I felt immediately that I had somehow made a major mistake in wardrobe – I had to protect her by switching her attire to gym shorts to ward off inappropriate eyes. It wasn’t until over a year later that it occured to me that I was triggered by an internal trauma and not a logical fear for my daughter’s safety.

Incest, molestation and preying on children, especially Black girls, happens in this country and has happened throughout my family tree. This not only breeds fear, but also an irrational trait of rituals to seemingly “protect” our Black girls from “attracting” the monsters who prey on us. Growing up, I was often scolded from freely playing, dancing, strutting with confidence, and dressing in my full femininity because of my frame. I’ve been curvy since elementary school and was often subjected to crude comments for boys, girls, and seemingly ‘protective’ women because of the size of my breasts, thighs, and backside. I grew up despising my body because it seemed to draw too much attention to myself before I fully understood what sex or seduction even was…I just wanted to keep winning dance contests and jumping double dutch without having to hold my body in place with one arm.

I pray for an existence where we create the safe spaces for our girls to fully express the body God gave them without weak-minded, sickened individuals preying on them with evil intentions. I know if I was never exposed to such deplorable acts, I might not have ventured into overeating at such a young age, hoping my flabby figure would keep me unattractive and therefore safe.

“round midnite

praying wont no young man

think i’m pretty in a dark mornin…”

“wdnt be good

not good at all

to meet a tall short black brown young man fulla his power

in the dark

in my universe of six blocks”

Excerpt from “i usedta live in the world” from For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email