Wrestling has always been an outlet for many people. It has been a way to fit in for those that feel different in society in whichever way they feel as such. Essence magazine sat down with three powerful women to discuss how they feel about Black diversity in wrestling. They also went over body image and finding their truest selves.
The three women interviewed were Naomi, Bianca Belair, and Ember Moon. Naomi recently had a huge return at the Royal Rumble and a subsequent return to Friday Night SmackDown. Belair has been a prominent face on the NXT brand. She is currently poised to take down Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Title at TakeOver: Portland. Moon has been out of action due to injury, but she is one of the most athletic women on the roster and has a catalog of matches that steal the show.
In the interview, Belair spoke mostly on body image, but she did touch on diversity a little. She exclaimed that you don’t have to be for everyone. Essentially, you are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that is fine.
“I just want to be who I am and I’m going to show up for the people who I am for and represent for them,” says Belair.
She spoke on body image as well and how she was told what and who she should be.
“I was always the bigger, muscular girl. Growing up, I was always told what I needed to look like to perform best and be accepted.” She continues, “I knew that I was naturally smart, talented, and athletic, but was often told to tone it down and not be as ambitious. So, I felt like I needed to shrink myself to soothe other people’s insecurities.”
Ember Moon conversed on what wrestling has meant for her. It attributed to her being able to be an “out- of-the-box Black girl.”
“I remember having a match and the crowd erupted for me. It gave me goosebumps but also made me wonder, ‘Are they cheering for me?’ It made me swell with such pride that even though I’m the one in the ring, doing the moves, to have other people feel that elation, there’s no feeling like it in the world.”
Moon continues on how she feels included by WWE and her work environment. She takes notice at the increase in Black representation in the locker room and how it is still such a diverse group even within that group.
“It’s nice to walk into a locker room as you’re not the only African-American woman there. It’s a beautiful thing. And we are all so different even though we are from the same culture. And that’s true representation.”
Naomi discussed her inspiration behind her “Feel the Glow” gimmick and tagline. It came from the movie The Last Dragon. This helped her overcome feeling like she was an outsider and that she had to adapt to a situation that she did not feel comfortable in. It gave her the strength to be herself.
“I was always inspired by the story of Bruce Leroy and how he didn’t initially believe in himself but the glow and the power was in him the whole time. He just needed to believe it. It reminded me of so many spaces I’ve been in where I was ‘the only’ and felt like I needed to adapt to what everyone else was doing instead of just walking to the beat of my own drum.”
Thank you to Essence for writing such an inspiring article. All quotes credited to Imani Bashir of Essence.
What are your thoughts and opinions on this article? Where do you see representation for Black women in wrestling? Or do you? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.