I must admit something. I have Covid-19-inspired face lust.
We’ve been watched by the walls of our homes since March 2020 and have seen too few real, in-person faces. It’s all been face porn, watching characters on TV as our pets stare on. “Faces” are not the flat, pixelated images of co-workers on Zoom, nor are they the tiny 2D versions of your parents or friends on FaceTime.
I need faces. The full, fleshy cheeks, eyes, noses, and mouths of loved ones — even strangers—are what I want. …
i hate those stories
where women recall
how they once hated
of their deep dark skin
the same stories
that appear in
the dark-skinned women
across her network
whenever i hear them
i never understand
how ugly words
can form on the lips
of such beautiful women
i hate hearing them
they dig up
i wanted to
of my own skin
it wasn’t my choice
that are placed
on young Black girls
girls like me
why you so dark…
When I think about The Before, I see myself getting ready to go out. I’m sitting at my desk, in front of my mirror, with a glass of Trader Joe’s rosé to my right. I’m freshly showered, shaved, and moisturized. I’ve applied various hair products and blow-dried my curls. I hurriedly did my nails before showering (always black), so they’re a little smudged. I’m doing my makeup now, hoping that I’ll get my eyeliner right on the first try.
There are no unknowns when I step out of bed. I will enjoy my first sip of coffee. I will comb through emails I don’t care about. I will refresh Twitter too many times. I’ll plan to go for a run. I won’t. I’ll work as much as I can until my lack of motivation snowballs into futility, then continue refreshing Twitter until the phone rings and the wine is poured. I no longer have the attention span to watch a show or read a book so I talk to friends until “bedtime,” the illusion of a schedule, at which…
When my dad delivered me,
The first thing he saw
Was a thicket of black hair,
Sticking out straight and wet,
Like fur on a freshly licked kitten.
It took a few months to curl into itself,
Grow quick as mint after rain,
Until it had to be gathered
Into soft, twisted bunches,
Always a few determined fronds
Trying to escape.
Our ritual after swimming,
Was straight two hours
Of washing and blow-drying
My drenched ringlets
Into a triangular mane;
Sharp comb teeth
Gnashing at my scalp,
Pools of pain
Welling in my eyes. …
I regarded myself in the mirror, teeth gritted. In my right hand, I wielded a pair of scissors, their blank shininess reflecting my tormented glance. In my left hand, I held the scraps of my self-esteem. I raised the scissors to my forehead and caught my hair — a few dozen strands or so. With a simple squeeze of the handles, the withered locks, those dead parts of me, fell. I felt a surge of relief.
I kept going until I had hair in name only, a protective sheath of close-cropped strands. …
As I write this, my city is on lockdown in response to the spread of Covid-19 — which means it’s just me and my body, alone together, in my little row house in Pittsburgh. I can’t go to the gym, obviously. I’m cooking for myself, and eating alone. I’m not dressing for anyone or anything. The only person I need to please is me.
Our current situation is with what diet culture tells me should be my ultimate Fat Girl Fear. In a world without shame, without the rails of other people’s judgment to keep me in check, I’ve been…
The first time I walked into a barbershop was like a first kiss. I was nervous, but thrilled. I felt square trying to be smooth; self-conscious, giddy with anticipation. I was also 25.
When I was nine, I drew the haircut I wanted on a Post-it note and brought it with me to the hairdresser. I was not very good at drawing, so I labeled the sides “shaved” and the top “long.” If you know what Jonathan Taylor Thomas or Devon Sawa looked like in the ’90s, then you know what I was shooting for — super hot. I was…
“I’ll give you my old dress! You’ll love it.”
A family friend is offering a kind gift: a dress she thinks I’ll like. She is a size 10. I am a size 26.
“That’s so sweet of you,” I say. “But I don’t think it’ll fit.”
“It’s got a lot of stretch!” She chirps. I wonder what kind of dress stretches to three times its size.
“I’m happy to try it on,” I offer, “but some plus-size clothing doesn’t even fit me, so I don’t want to assume this will. I am a fat lady.”
She looks at me with…
You haven’t had hives in a decade. Barely even remember what it was like to live with a body fighting against you, every inch raised in rebellion.
One night you go to sleep smooth, exfoliated and more exhausted than you realized was possible, and the next morning wake with your face tight and eyes swollen shut. Everything protests as you wrestle yourself free of the covers, alarm blaring, bones weighing you down.
Deep in your gut you know something is wrong. Your first instinct is to run to the mirror to assess the damage. Face, neck, shoulders. Even the palms…
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