A.J. Gibson

Writer, Producer, Model, Athlete

Personal Essays

WHY I LOVE MY NATURAL HAIR

So here’s the lye: You can find it right in Aisle 5. It’s the active ingredient of a white chemical cream that sits in mini tubs in the haircare section in your average American drugstore.   Lye is good for taking the kink right out of a nappy head. It’s supposed to give any black girl the long, soft tresses of the brown model smiling on the box. The process is called “hair relaxing.” If your tired old coils need a spring vacation, try brands like “Dark and Lovely” or “African Pride.” These products get right at the roots, and one kit costs only $6.79.   Lye is also used for curing foods like pretzels and olives. It makes a good base for drain cleaners or any agent needed to dispose of large amounts of road kill. Just ask 1939 serial killer Leonarda Cianciulli, who used the chemical to turn three dead bodies into soap. [Cont.}

HOW MY RACE DEFINED MY GENDER WHEN I LIVED IN JAPAN

It's because I'm black, isn't it?

Those were my thoughts as I strolled the sidewalk to my new home in Japan, and a woman swerved her minivan upon seeing me. I remember how her shock made me smile. I remember her fixed stare, the way she fixed her hair, then adjusted the wheel. And I continued to saunter along, knowing my blackness had power. Here it drew attention and brought wonder, and I learned that sometimes it paid to be a token in this country. [Cont.]

What Title IX missed: How the gender-equity law has led to fewer women coaches

I didn’t know that I needed her until it was too late.

Ciara McCormack became the new assistant soccer coach of the varsity team when I was a senior at Yale University. We had never had a female coach before and I thought she was all sorts of cool. Whenever it got cold, for example, she often walked into the locker room wearing a beanie and low-rise sweatpants that screamed soccer swagger. [Cont.]

WHEN ONE TOMBOY POSED AS A PAGEANT GIRL

I stopped being a lady in first grade when I fell in love with a boy. Something within me said I had to become a guy just so I could sit closer to George at the boys’ lunch table. So I ditched the dresses, hitched on a pair of Dickies, played video games and kicked soccer balls with the best of them. Then I realized that what I thought was romance was really self-actualization. I fell in love with who I wanted to be: a strong, confident, spunky young woman with the grace and slickness of a newborn fawn. [Cont.]

Finding My Fangirl: How The Women’s World Cup Taught Me To Sit The Bench

W e had talked about this for months. Steph, my college teammate and fellow soccer nut, spat text upon texts, gleaming links to articles and Insta pics of the US Women’s National Soccer Team. Abby Wambach becomes the highest scoring player in history; Christine Rampone, mother of 2 approaches 40 and still kicks ass; Meghan Rapinoe mocks Sydney LeRoux in a tight dress. We were obsessed with their drive and talents, their zany humor and their inspirational stories. Our fascination was nothing short of love. [Cont.]