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How to Exist as a Black Woman

Giavaughn Henriquez | Writer

A tricky, tricky question. I have spent my entire life trying to figure this one out. I even Google searched it, but there were few answers. For as long as I can remember, I have been abnormally aware of myself, especially at school. I noticed the spring-like curl of hair that defies gravity on the top of my head, despite gelling it down (ugh!). I noticed my nostrils were larger than my peers’, despite wearing glasses to hide them. I noticed my body shape curving differently from other girls, despite wearing all the same clothes as them. I couldn’t help but notice every single difference and every single “fault.” Self-monitoring at its worst! 

I apologize to my younger self every day. I made her think that she had to be everything but herself to be beautiful, to matter. To exist as a Black woman meant pretending I was not one. It was not until my senior year of high school that I decided to exist as myself and for myself. Though, this came to be difficult, having only a few classmates who looked like me. I looked toward inspirational Black figures, such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. They wrote in their novels so convincingly that I was persuaded into believing in myself. The benefit of time and reading has led me closer to the answer to the headline, but I still have a long way to go. To exist as a Black woman is to fight for yourself.


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