For centuries the black body has been ogled, examined, and over-sexualized, especially bodies of black women. Saartjie Sarah Baartman is a prime example of the natural curves being put on display for sexual enjoyment as well as a mockery. Sarah was a slave taken from modern-day South Africa in the 18th century; she was taken to be paraded around because her hips and butt were more pronounced than the average woman, especially an African woman.

Sarah was treated poorly by both white men and women, she was poked with sticks and groped daily. She was a representation of their suppressed desires and fetishes. Even long after her death her body was preserved and placed in a museum to be ogled and made fun of.  Later it was discovered that Sarah suffered from steatopygia, a large amount of fat accumulation in the buttocks mostly seen in people from South Africa. Sarah is a key example of how different black bodies are and how they are oversexualized. 

Over-Sexualization on Tik Tok

Now the year is 2021 and not much has changed. There is a teenage girl, Te’shauria Akinleye, who was later kicked off her cheerleading squad because she posted a Tik Tok video of her doing a trending dance. She was asked by her coach to take it down but even after doing so she still was removed from the team. The reasoning for her removal was that the school isn’t represented properly by the “provocative” video.

Akinleye was not wearing any school memorabilia and the dance was a typical Tik Tok that at least two of her teammates were doing as well. These girls were wearing shorts shorter than Akinleye and they were not asked to remove their videos nor were they kicked off the team. When a meeting was called for between Akinleye’s mother and the school, the school called ACS stating that Akinleye was sexually abused and the videos were being sold by her mother.

Even though the Tik Tok video was in no way related to the school or was inappropriate, Akinleye’s teammates were doing the same exact thing and received no repercussions. Making the coach’s statement discriminatory against Akinleye, most likely because of her body type or color of her skin. 

over-sexualization | Kiss and Tell | Black Women

Swimsuit Over-Sexualization

In another story, a young black swimmer, Breckynn Willis, was disqualified from a race after she finished in the first place. When emerging from the pool the referee stated that too much of her butt was out of her swimsuit even though it’s the same swimsuit all her teammates were wearing and the swimsuit was provided to her by her school. Luckily for Willis, her coach stood up for her and noticed that she was being targeted for having a certain body type. Her coach, Lauren Langford, took the incident to the district who agreed that the referee’s call was harsh and full of discrimination.

Why was Willis the only one to be disqualified for her swimsuit when she was wearing the same regulated suit that all her teammates are wearing? Why is she punished for being naturally curvy?  

Soul Cap Ruling

Unfortunately, these aren’t the only stories,  a black wrestler was forced to cut off his locks, otherwise, he would forfeit his match. Black girls are suspended and sometimes expelled from school for wearing their natural hair. Why can’t we let children be children? Black and mixed-race children are being discriminated against for their body type, the texture of their hair, and of course the color of their skin. It is absolutely disgusting and despicable the way that they are targeted by things out of their control. 

Even in the Olympics, it’s obvious that there is some bias, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) ban the use of Soul- caps or extra-large swimming caps. FINA stated that the soul cap does not fit the natural form of the head.

However, soul caps were made for men and women with thicker, curlier hair, people who have had trouble getting the standard caps over their afros. There is obvious neglect and even through the backlash that FINA has gotten, it hasn’t been fully addressed. What does the size of a cap have to do with the swimmers? There is no way to cheat using a larger swimming cap. If anything, having a larger cap without the hair to fill it might actually slow the swimmer down. This is a blatant discrimination against people of color who don’t always have the option to tie down their hair to fit a cap so small it can fit a toddler. 

This happens throughout childhood

As a young child I remember being told those shorts are too short, there are men present, I never understood why as a young person of no more than 10 years old why my clothes would matter to someone so much older. I now realize that it was a warning of pedophilia, and although I was safe in my house, being outside with strangers was a different story.

Talking with friends who went through similar situations, I realized that this over-sexualization of young girls formulates body image issues. Young girls, especially young black girls whose bodies seem to develop faster are hyper-sexualized. Children who know nothing of sex are told they can’t wear certain clothes, or act a certain way because someone is going to deem them sexy clothes or sexual acts.

Each of these young teens has been exposed to hyper-sexualization and racism from someplace they are meant to feel safe- a school setting. From Sarah Baartman in the 18th century to Te’shauria Akinleye now in 2021, More than 100 years later and nothing has changed. When will we as a society realize that these black queens are not the problem but instead those that choose to sexualize them? 


Kiss & Tell Magazine will always keep the conversation going on several topics and especially in sexual health. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter below and always be part of the K&T community. 

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References

-, T. S. L., By, -, Leaguehttps://theshadowleague.com, T. S., & The Shadow League. (2020, January 24). Black teen swimmer disqualified from race for having a black girl body. The Shadow League. Retrieved September 7, 2021, from https://theshadowleague.com/breckynn-willis-swimmer-black-girls/.

Battle, M. (2017, May 16). 8 times schools let Black Girls’ HAIR interfere with their education. Elite Daily. Retrieved September 7, 2021, from https://www.elitedaily.com/life/culture/black-girls-natural-hair-racism-schools/1953497.

By, W., & Sutelan, E. (2021, July 25). Olympic swim CAP ban: What does ‘SOUL CAP’ ruling mean for black swimmers At 2021 Games? Sporting News. Retrieved September 11, 2021, from https://www.sportingnews.com/us/athletics/news/olympic-swim-cap-ban-2021-swimmers/3526wghlsb8v1ajeilz08cx41.

Staff, I. E. (2021, August 20). Tennessee teen kicked off high School cheer squad OVER TIKTOK Dance video is invited back to team after review. Inside Edition. Retrieved September 7, 2021, from https://www.insideedition.com/tennessee-teen-kicked-off-high-school-cheer-squad-over-tiktok-dance-video-is-invited-back-to-team