A heightened awareness of the body can bring a scattered mind to rest. In and out, breath flows easily as we scan ourselves head to toe. I’ve used meditation, yoga, and mindfulness to turn my anxiety into astute observation of myself and others. I thought experimenting with my body would turn my dysmorphia into self acceptance, but grey hair on a young black woman in Providence is an anomaly—I was foolish to believe otherwise.
These comments and encounters happened here. Each time I was surprised. Each time I reflected on the black women and girls who have been criminalized for existing in a world that refuses to appreciate the springy, fluffy, coarse hair we are born with. Why did I think my boldness would exist in a silo? I may have tricked myself into believing a playful attempt at nontraditional appearance wouldn’t invite stares or questions. I don’t see these comments as assaults—most were positive—yet the amount of attention I received was unbearable. I found myself growing skittish at the thought of leaving my apartment. Still, I wonder how much of this experience was intensified by my incessant worrying. I wonder, if I projected an aura of uncaring assurance, would I have even taken these comments to heart?
It was a fun experiment, but I won’t be doing it again.
Chandra Dickey is a first year Master’s student in Public Humanities at Brown University. She is also a graduate fellow at Brown’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice.