Monday, March 17, 2008

Prelude Letter to My Body - Part Two

I had a thing for bell bottom pants. Elephant bell bottom pants. If I wasn't wearing overalls with a Jeff cap it was the bells. Thing was, I was never tall enough to wear those pants.

Lord knows I wanted to be. All of my bell bottom pants had torn bottoms cuz when I wasn't falling off of my clogs I wore sneakers. And none of that hip-hugger crap. I had a hard enough time getting into standard jeans. I had to work extra hard to keep the back of my front covered.

The bells bottom pants was my way of paying homage to Tamara. Truth be told I wanted to be Tamara Dobson.

Okay, I wanted to be as tall as Tamara Dobson in addition to looking like her. Either one or the other would have worked for me.

If I couldn't be Tamara Dobson then Pam Grier would have done just as well but I kind was in awe of Pam Grier. As in she'd scared me. You just didn't mess with Pam Grier in her movies. She'd hurt you really, bad.

I liked that. Well I like that she beat the hell out of anyone doing her wrong.

Now you might say how in the world can I look to these women as my heroic icons? Easy. They were the first. They were present. Everybody knew their names and said them with respect. These women acted in roles that didn't talk about getting their freedom that just assumed they had it and proceeded from that point.

Were some of their movies exploitative? Yes. I can't lie or deny that. As a teen these are the folks that popular media projected and I responded to. If I didn't like them I wouldn't have given them a second thought. Knowing that one or the other blew the hell out of some guy was very reassuring in a goofy kind of way.

Plus they were snazzy dressers, a skill I dreadfully lacked in the 70s.

And they had long legs. Men seems to like women with long legs so I thought it was something to aspire to. The concept of genetics and the immediate lack of tall relatives hadn't hit my conscious yet.

More than anything I wanted that kind of cool. Emancipated cool. I wanted to be that kind of black woman. The one that wouldn't take no stuff from no one.

It kind sunk in around sixteen I wasn't going to hit the heights. Or carry a gun. But they gave me a rough outline that I could take a look at and fill in to suit my life.

Oh, special shout out to Ready Betty Davis, I wanted to look like her too.

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