Street Harassment: It was a beautiful day…

It was a beautiful day in June last summer and I decided to treat myself to a nail appointment. It was like 85 degrees and I always been the type of girl to embrace my body. I like to get pretty and dress for myself because appearance doesn’t affect your personality or brain or mean that attention has to be given to you. So I threw on my shorts, a fitted top with straps and slides.

My sister didn’t approve. I know she thinks that the way you dress can influence how men act around you. I on the other hand know my clothing does not justify any disgusting or degrading comments a man says or acts on. It’s simple: the only person to blame is, of course, that man.

I went to the nail salon two blocks away from my home. When I made a turn I noticed a car did as well. I had my music playing pretty loud but I noticed that there were no other cars on the street, and yet the driver was cruising on by. I lowered my music and started to hear his comments. “YO. YO. I know you hear me talking to you.”

I looked at him in which he asked to take me out and even better, for me to be his girlfriend. Mind you I was turning sixteen and he looked like he was in his late twenties. When I said “No thanks. I’m good.” He started to get angry shouting all sorts of things at me. “Oh, you think you all that. Who are you dressing for? Is it because I’m fat? It’s cause I’m fat ain’t it !!!” Honestly, I was scared, I made it halfway up the block to my house and he’s still following me. I face-timed my sister so she could stay on the phone with me.

Even with my attention on something else, my lips clearly moving so I wouldn’t have to talk to him, he still followed me. When I made it at the crosswalk, across from my house, he barked “where you going” and pulled his car in front of me – blocking my path to cross the street. As if I wasn’t shocked and scared enough, he came out of his car and started to approach me. “It’s cause you don’t want a fat guy now huh?”

I walked quickly backward and crossed the street on the opposite side between cars. He got into his car and made a u-turn in my direction. I told my sister “Please come outside.” When I made it into the gate my cousin came running outside, thankfully he was there. Seeing his face and hearing my gate close gave me so much comfort, I needed that sense of protection. The man had a big grin on his face as he turned off my block. Like did he really gain some type of satisfaction for making me feel uncomfortable and unsafe in my own neighborhood?

After that, I never listen to my music loud. I never walk home without being on the phone. And I always check my surroundings. But I still dress for me. Because the only one in this situation who was responsible for this interaction was that man. He willingly chose to drive at my pace, windows down, shouting at me. Even when I gave him a response he still did what he did with no control all because he didn’t like it. It’s people like that who needs to be stopped in order for the world to be a better place. I know many other people experience way worse and dehumanizing experiences, but always remember it’s not your fault, and you’re never alone !!

Thank you <3