Anecdotes of a Sexy Baby
From Sexy Babyhood to Thirty-hood
Ever since I can remember, I have always been in touch with my sexuality. I call the Whitney of my youth a “sexy baby”. I used to roll up my shorts and tie up my shirts. I wanted to wear bikinis as a toddler, and not just for swimming. It wasn’t what I saw on TV or any behavior mimicked by my mom or my aunts; I just wanted to be sexy before I actually understood what it meant.
Not only did I roll up my shorts and tie my shirts, but I would also wear my power ranger onesie to dance class, and tutus whenever I could. I would wear tights under almost everything, and wanted to keep every item of every clothing I had ever owned. I was just a kid. An innocent kid.
Once when I was about 7, I was at my grandma’s restaurant and I was wearing shorts. A man made me feel uncomfortable and wouldn’t stop staring at me. I sat down by my aunt to feel safe, and told her that the man made me feel weird. She asked, “Well, isn’t that why you wear clothes like that? Don’t you do it for the attention?” I remember wondering, “Why do I wear these clothes? Is that why I’m supposed to do it? For the attention?” I didn’t even know what the “attention” meant at the time.
I didn’t tell anyone about that until I was in my twenties. It took me at least 15 years to process that, and it took me even longer to realize that her authority made me question my intentions for everything I did as a kid for a long time.
Puberty hit me early and fast. I felt pretty and womanly, like I had always wanted to. However, all those feelings of beauty and sensuality were also met with caution by others, and admonishment from adults.
The reasoning was never clear; all that was clear was that I should be modest and ashamed for being too “sexy”. So, I pushed boundaries and fought it, because I knew that I couldn’t be wrong for just wanting to enjoy my physical self.
During this tween rebellion of sexuality, I acquired a thong. I took it to school with me on the day we had to run relays. I had just washed my school uniform and decided to wear sweatpants instead of the shorts, so I rolled my pants up with the thong, excited to change into it after gym class. (What was I thinking? That my mom was going to do an underwear inspection before I left the house? Middle school brains.)
I must have forgotten, because when it was my turn to run the relay, my thong fell out from whatever fold it was hiding in-- laying on the track for all to see. Not only was it embarrassing, but it felt like a sign that I was definitely doing something wrong.
The next year, I was transferred to a different school and a group of girls stopped me before I left the classroom. They looked me over and asked, “Did you have a cleft lip when you were a baby? Because it looks like you did.” “Your lips are weird.” “You’re bow-legged. Your legs look bowed. Yeah, you’re bow-legged.” (Jokes on them, I’m knock-kneed!) This moment stuck with me forever.
You see, I had always been told my lips were my best asset. Was it because everyone was patronizing me and trying to make me feel better about the cleft lip I never knew I had? I have some pretty good bullies in my family, and I thought for sure this whole bow-legged thing would have come up.
This situation is a complex one that I am still processing, but I hold nothing against this group of girls. After thinking about this little iceberg, I think they must have been upset. Not with me, but because for some reason in our society, Black girls are deemed more sexually mature and less innocent because of their bodies. They are chronically hyper-sexualized and treated differently and not given the same rules as other girls of their age. For some reason, adults forget that a 12-year-old is still a 12-year-old—boobs or no boobs. It is not my place to speak from their experience, but I do know that we were all trying to just trying to figure out our bodies and why the world was reacting to them the way it was.
As a child, when I would go over to my paternal aunt’s house, I remember not being trusted to be behind a closed door with the other kids. I remember not being able to go to a sleepover without a million weird rules being set in place. I would go home feeling dirty, but go back time and time again just to see my cousins. At that age, I could never imagine the things I would come to learn about why they treated us this way.
When I was 14, I was sexually abused. It took me 14 years to come to the conclusion that it was not my fault. It took me, a 28 year old woman looking at a 14 year old girl, to see just how young 14 is. Just how fresh, unprepared, and uninterrupted 14 could have been for me.
When I was 15, I had a boyfriend who was in college. You can probably guess what we did. Well, he broke my heart, and then I met the sweetest boy the world could introduce to me. I was a cheerleader and he was a basketball and football player... He was standing in the middle of the basketball court with “nose-tampons” in, and I was getting ice for my knees. I fell in love.
I was more experienced than he was, and because for some reason my sexuality was the talk of 40-something year old moms, his mother knew about me and my college boyfriend. She told her son that she didn’t exactly trust me and didn’t like what she had heard about me— which made me feel lovely. Lovely, that the college boy felt the need to blab. Lovely that “old women” were gossiping about a 15 year old girl who didn’t even know they existed. Lovely, that I wasn’t good enough because I was soiled. Used goods, and not good enough for her son.
I loved that boy with all my heart and wished he had been my first time. One consolation is that, when I finally “ruined him”, we really cared about each other. It was awkward. It was special. It was everything someone’s first time should be.
After all these “anecdotes”, I look back and wish I had more guidance. Someone to answer my questions, and to make me feel safe. Someone to tell me I could be an innocent kid who embraced her femininity in the unique way that I did. Someone to tell me that one day, I was going to have sex, and it was going to be a totally normal, human thing to do. Not a dirty secret that you only did with the wrong people. That once I had sex, I wasn’t ruined. That my body being developed wasn’t my fault. That my short shorts didn’t mean I was asking for it. That I was a good girl whose only intentions were to wake up and be a kid every day.
Standing here as a fresh 30-year-old, I promise myself that my next thirty years will be spent embracing my sexuality. Liberating myself of guilt. Showering myself in love. Being loud and proud about the woman that I am, and making sure that everyone knows I’m here in a way I haven’t been before. I’m here, baby.
About the Creator
Whitney is a second generation Mexican-American woman originally from Northern Virginia. Currently based in Cary, North Carolina, she is a dance teacher, avid crocheter, graphic designer, mommy to one, and writes when the spirit moves her.
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