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Vaseline, Cocoa and Shea Butters, and the Legacy for Black Skin

Vaseline, Cocoa and Shea Butters, and the Legacy for Black Skin

As if that’s not enough, I’m hotter than I’ve ever been in my entire Black life — and I’m from Texas. And so, fresh from a cool, afternoon shower, I lay naked on my bed with the air conditioner on, crunching on tap-water ice, watching a Bring It! marathon on Lifetime, and rubbing Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula on my seven-months-pregnant belly.

In addition to rebuking ashiness, cocoa butter is supposed to keep my skin supple and help reduce discoloration and stretch marks that may come as my body shape-shifts and expands. Plus, it smells like chocolate. But, to be honest, stretch marks are the last thing I’m worried about. After a blessedly uneventful “geriatric” pregnancy at the age of 43, I have been told that it’s very likely I have a potentially life-threatening condition that has completely changed my birth plan. Delivering my child in a private birth room with my husband and longtime OBGYN by my side has now become a public delivery in the hospital’s main operating room with five different teams of doctors and several pints of blood on hand — just in case. But, hey, they won’t know for sure if I have the condition until they operate, so my doctors tell me to stay off of Google and try to relax.

In the meantime, I binge-watch episodes of the Jackson, Mississippi, dance team and their wild-card coach as they practice, compete, and live their Black girl lives.

In red-and-silver, shimmery bodysuits (with fringe!) the Dancing Dolls do death drops, buck down to the floor, and whip their weaves. When the captain jumps into a toe touch and lands in a split, my daughter, who is already a world-class somer saulter, gives an encouraging kick in my belly. I take this nudge as an affirmation, a reminder to stay in the present, and I rub cocoa butter in the place where she punted me. I rest my hands there for a spell and let the heat from my palms work like Reiki.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula

Mama’s Pearl

Atlanta — September 2018

I kneel on the padded, blue whale bath mat, eye level with my gorgeous baby girl. I’m smiling big and holding open the plushiest towel I can find. My daughter steps wrinkle-toed out of the tub and throws her four-year-old body into my arms, arms I cocoon around her, drying her off while she tippy-taps her feet fast-fast, laughing the laugh of a child who is happy, safe, loved. This little ritual is our favorite part of bath time, just like when I was a little girl, and I can’t believe my luck.