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Like… when I tell y’all how Prince shaped my entire thought process on what it means to fully be into yourself as a woman?

The Bible Belt taught you that “good girls” got respected. Yet here were these black chicks—yeah, they were “ambiguous” but I read them as black—being bad in every way. Vanity and Sheila E. were next-level gorgeous, next-level glamour, AND walked around in lingerie, leather and furs. And people loved them. No one more than the sexiest man on Earth.

Now, I grew up sharing a room with my mother, with a poster of Prince in a leotard hanging over my bed, so my first feely-feelings were re: that sexy m.f. And Prince loved bad girls. Every song was about some woman driving him crazy. Every song was about some chick putting it on him or throwing it back. These women were rubbing out in hotel lobbies and macking dudes at their jobs and I was like… that sounds SO fly! Good girls just get married… bad girls out here living life! See, I was the kid intently watching wavy late night Cinemax and speculating S&M scenarios from Disney movies—I had this whole thing about Ariel living inside Prince Eric’s waterbed and being let out for sex at night—and it always felt good-weird but socially unacceptable… like I was too fast for the world. But I felt like there was this other world, a life, that I could grow up and have or get to, where this curiosity and sexual energy was just gonna be okay and I could live in that. That world was foggy and purple-toned. Prince had created that space. (I also figured this space was literally in Minneapolis or somewhere North, just REALLY not in Florence, SC.)

By the time I came into hip-hop and credit cards down ass cracks I was like fuck that noise. This dude over here LOVES black women in all our incarnations: the bookworms and the rockstars and the heauxs. And the sexy doesn’t feel bad. His was lust without objectification. Gaze made inviting and desirable. By the time I got to Lil’ Kim being Queen Bitch I was blending that aesthetic with a raspberry beret and realizing ‪#‎icouldbeboth‬. An Irresistible Bitch. My pink chinchillas could be cashmere.

I mean, I didn’t dress like it. I dressed like a kid. I stayed slaying in a turtleneck dickie. But I knew by the time I was a grown ass woman, I could dress as I liked, be free as a dove and still be deserving of Diamond and Pearls adulation. It was never a question. Because Prince had already defined owning your kinky and living your shit and being loved in all of it.

I like keeping my iTunes in chronological order by date added, because it helps me mark time. I was going through my library last night and hit the cache of Prince rarities, B-sides and mixes from around ’09/’10. I smiled.

I’d spent a good 7 years up to that point, which was during and after college, in a never-gonna-touch-a-dude bubble. I’d been raped. Twice. And I was scared. The thought of going on dates gave me panic attacks. Toward the end of the spiral of depression that started after MJ died (it got really fucking real, but that’s another story) I’d exhausted the Jackson archives and turned my deep, obsessive musical digging to Prince.

I swear that’s how I got that old thing back.

Dorothy Parker said I could pass on the movie if I hadn’t read the book and he’d still leave his pants on. I listened to For You as an album for the first time, and found a loving and lovemaking that was fun and soft and sweet. I remembered that the sexy shouldn’t feel bad. I truly began to believe that it wouldn’t. I started to feel in my body again. I figured out how to own my kinky. And how to work through my shit. And how to love myself again, in all of it.

And now, I’m all like…

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