Updated: Jun 5
"Protecting the Women I Lean On."
I submitted this piece to Vocal Creators for their "Women's History Month Challenge" back in March. No, I didn't win, but I really see growth in my writing which is more valuable, I think lol. But fr fr, that $5,000 would've been nice as hell lmao. Enjoy y'all!
"We got our faces from the women before us. Placed our hands on our sides to firmly situate ourselves upward, to sway with some 'tude'. We stood like the tallest of trees, rooted in the survival of the ones before and the ones after. My mother folded herself into the corners of my mouth, stretching my dimples from the center of my cheek to the curve that shaped my chin. My grandmothers laid their lives along my collarbone, only revealing themselves when I lost the weight of the world after gorging myself on energy that I couldn't use but could only store, making me feel heavy in myself. My aunts came together and imprinted their marks that stretched across my entire body, creating a roadmap only I could read. Their legacies, I carry with me. Literally." - Breanna Taylor.
In honor of Women's History Month, I wanted to use this time to reflect on my most recent tattoo and the significance behind it. As of right now, I have 3 tattoos in total. My first one, the Ankh, tattooed on the front of my right arm, meaning peace and eternal life. My second one is a butterfly with a flower interior on my foot. My mother thought it would be nice to get matching tattoos, so we did. I got my most recent tattoo on impulse, which is the time when I feel less critical of myself and more alive. I always knew I wanted a Black woman tattoo, I just didn't have a design in mind. After countless hours of searching on Google, I saw her. The final product wasn't actually what I found but what I ended up piecing together.
The longest and most painful portion of having the tattoo done was the hair. Thinking about this with respect to how I came into girlhood and my transition into womanhood, hair can be seen as a rite of passage. With beauty came pain, and I had to learn to endure it early on, and so did every other Black woman I knew/know. Coming to learn how to do my own hair and eventually doing other women's hair allowed me the opportunity to connect with them. Having someone in control of your hair is a very overlooked, intimate act. It's the process of learning how to cater to someone's needs, listening to the person and what is that they want, and learning to read vulnerability. For a body in trauma, this can be a very big step! Typically, if you're the person getting their hair done, you are turned away from the hairdresser. This requires confidence in their abilities, a mutual understanding between both/multiple parties, and, most importantly, trust. In seeing how many Black women trusted me and allowed me the space to connect with them, I wanted to do something in celebration of their bravery and power, hence SheShe.
I wanted this piece to be an amalgamation of the women in my life, past and present. They were the ones who saved me from myself in the darkest moments. They taught me how to give back to myself, making it possible for me to do the same for them. I found that I was most powerful in spaces where Black women were. I was comforted by their trust and irreducible love. This piece was my mother, my grandmothers, my aunts, my cousins, my sisters, my friends, the women I have yet to meet, the women that are no longer in my life, my spirit.