The first time I wore a bra was in high school.
I remember the pain and the shame and the confusion of it.
And I remember being the only black person on campus, and feeling like I was a second-class citizen.
I never really stopped to think, Is this what we were meant to look like?
I was always ashamed of my skin.
A year after graduating from high school, I left school at 21, and my body and my identity were no longer mine.
I wanted to make a change.
I had done all the work, I had studied, I was good at my job, and I was proud of my accomplishments.
I was ready to make that change.
When I first went to college, I knew I wanted more than just to be a student.
I knew that I wanted my identity to reflect my identity.
I thought of myself as a girl and as a woman.
And when I went to my first dance, my classmates looked at me and said, “Oh, you’re not a girl.”
And I looked around and I saw the stares and the stares.
I started to feel like I could not go on without this scrutiny.
So I started dressing differently.
I stopped being embarrassed by my body.
I began wearing my bra every day.
I got really good grades and had fun.
And then, in college, the first time a black person walked in the door, I cried.
It was my first time going out on my own.
And after that, I started walking with my hands in my pockets, I stopped using the bathroom, and it was a year of not being able to be myself.
I don’t think my body was always so vulnerable.
But when I was growing up, my family was very white.
I don’t have any black friends.
And my black friends are always like, “You know what?
I can’t stand that you’re like this.”
And it’s not a black thing.
I just want to be seen as who I am.
And that is really important.
My parents were very proud of who I was, and they always taught me to be proud of myself.
But they were not taught to be ashamed of myself either.
I have a lot of friends who are women, and many of them, like me, have tried to make it on the other side of being black.
But there are still people who think, “Why should a black girl do this?”
I think that we need to think about what it is that we want from our bodies, what we want for ourselves, and what we do to get that.
So we need bodies of other races.
And we need black women, like myself, who are not afraid of that.