Freewheeling Friday: Body Image

Reconciling with My Organic Space Suit

Years of bullying and sexual abuse has led to a struggle between my physical body, mind, and spirit.

Somehow as a child, I always saw my body as a space my true self inhabited.

I kid you not, there were moments where I felt betrayed by my body its imperfections, idiosyncrasies, and weaknesses. I always knew it was separate from who I was.

Perhaps it was the religious upbringing with the constantly drilled dogma that my body is a temple.

At 7 years old, I woke in the middle of the night unable to breathe. My lungs weren’t functioning — gaseous exchange wasn’t taking place.

It was my first asthma attack. The first inkling that my body’s versatility couldn’t be trusted. A health trauma that made me zero in on my mortality in a real way.

A year later my body began to physically change. I was going through a premature metamorphosis initiated by the hormones that I couldn’t control. The moment puberty begins for a black girl her entire world shifts.

The women in the family begin to treat her differently, as an enemy, the men look at her with suspicion and everyone outside of the family sexualizes her changing body.

For me, my body had betrayed me. Forced me to grow up a lot sooner than I wanted to. I had to wear a bra all the time because god forbid my too big nipples protruded through the material of my clothes, I was 8 years old.

Men began to notice my body teetering on the precipice of womanhood and they pounced. Matters made no difference if I was wearing a school uniform and pigtails, the contours of my curves were on full display.

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