Lately, I've been thinking about my body - well, constantly. Like most women, I'm on a diet that I don't follow, so I think about my body and how maybe if I concentrate hard enough, I'll be able to wish it thin. I know that doesn't work, I've been trying to do that for the last twenty years, and so far, all that works is the proper diet and exercise. And that does work, except now that I'm (a'hem) older, things are a bit more difficult. But! I'm not writing this to talk about my diet and exercise, I want to talk about my actual body.
First, I'm cool with my body - mostly. I am definitely not above the constant brainwashing that insists I will only be physically perfect after I've bought a number of products designed to make me perfect, but, let's just say I have high self-esteem. That being said, I'm going to start with the parts that could use ... improvement. My arms. Hate 'em. They are super fat and make my boobs look even smaller than they are. And my arms are this way no matter my weight. But, I do love that I actually have functioning arms, don't get me wrong. I am very grateful for my mobility. Now that that's out of my way, let's move on to my thighs. I actually love that I have giant juicy thighs, it's so a Black thing, but they're not so firm and there's, there's, don't make me say it - cellulite. Okay, I said it, damn! Moving on! My belly is next. Your average chick doesn't like her belly, even when it's relatively flat. It's just a truth in life when there are so many commercials that tell us all our bellies are automatically too fat and flabby (so try these pills, this surgery, this girdle-type thing that looks like it's made of useless nylon). Back fat. That's all I'm going to say about that.
Now, let me tell you want I love about my body. First and foremost, my booty. Man, I love my booty so much! That might read a little weird, but if you saw my booty, you'd love it too. Like my arms, no matter my weight, my booty is big - but also firm, so firm! I also love my skin color. It's a dark brown with a gold-ish undertone. Love my face. It's a good face. My eyes and lips in particular.
I'm aware that I skipped over some body parts, but I'm hoping you're starting to get the point. While there are some parts that call for improvement, there are some parts that are just fine - as is the case with every other human being on the planet. And yet, I've had some interesting encounters while in this body and on this journey that I thought I would share.
First, I've been fat and I've been thin and I've been fat and I've been thin and I've been fat again. Right now, I'm not my ideal and although I'm not plus size, my doctor would like me to drop a few(?) pounds. That being said, I am pretty health conscious, too many fatal conditions run in my family for me to not be, but at the same time, there are times when you get sick of working out and when you want to be able to eat the crap the skinny chick at the next table is stuffing into her pie hole, and there are times when you get sick of feeling guilty about those times. And yet, I've felt judged on so many occasions. The funny part is that the judgment has come in both directions. I've had people ask me once I've lost weight if I really thought I could keep it off, with the unspoken part being: cause, you know losing weight was a fluke and you have no discipline. I've had people insist that I not diet because I shouldn't deprive myself, even if diet just means not eating a cookie for dessert. Then there's the whole, "You're unworthy of happiness and love if you're overweight" message we constantly get if we turn on a TV/PC or walk down a street with a few billboards. So, I now find myself in this weird space where I have to remember that so many people expect me to devalue myself while that is the furthest thing from my mind. I am awesome, fat arms or not. It is hard to look at all the skinny (and I mean skinny, sometimes unattractively so, at least to me) chicks on TV knowing that they are a beauty ideal that I don't fit, but it would be so fantastic if people realized that most of us live in real life and what's the average woman's size (in the US) up to now, 14 or 16? Not that we shouldn't be health conscious, but c'mon, let's get real about what that really means.
Most people get the whole fat/thin thing. What I've found really interesting living is this body is that people are afraid of Black chicks. I am so serious! I've had plenty of instances where men have almost gotten whiplash turning their heads away from me to avoid eye contact and possibly a polite hello in passing (one encounter happened last week), and I've also had a man look at me quite terrified when I asked if he was single while we were talking about nightlife in the city. I thought it was a relevant question considering the conversation, clearly not. Now, at this point, you may be thinking that afraid isn't quite the word, especially when considering that these aforementioned men were Black men, but, another encounter that happened last week, involved two White men walking past two of my colleagues and myself. These White men walked past the three of us, did not step on our toes or even lightly brush our arms, as a matter of fact, we wouldn't have even noticed them had they not suddenly fallen into many apologies - for walking by us. Now, like I said before, I have a pretty face (take my word on this) that is prone to smiling, as do my colleagues, so we were at a loss. My colleague even asked, "Are we that scary that they have to apologize for walking past us?"
Now we have to be real about stereotypes. We have all encountered "scary" black women on television, featured in programs like, "The Jerry Springer Show" and such. It doesn't help that many of them are brought to us these days via "reality" TV. Then there are traditional characters, like the "sapphire", the Black woman who will cuss you out simply for looking her way. BUT, in the encounters I've mentioned, the men either didn't know me (or my colleagues) well enough to assume I'd fit into any of those categories or after conversation, definitely knew better. Oh, and I'm just over 5 feet tall, so um, not about to randomly attack any men. So, the fear then becomes not that I'm going to cuss them out or perpetrate violence against them, but perhaps its the fear that I might actually want them. So, these men are allowed to have self-esteem high enough to assume that I want them, even from a distance, but its assumed that I will resort to scary behavior in my desperation to have them. And all of this because I live in a brown body that isn't always thin. This seems like Bizarro World to me. Only in Bizarro world would someone value you more if your hair is someone else's hair (White girls get extensions, too!), your boobs, butt, and nails are made of plastic, and you work really hard to make sure your bones poke through your skin (that isn't layered with plastic). But, nope, that's just today's standard for women in countries where starvation is a choice.
Despite this, I'm so lucky because, like I said before, I'm awesome, and really, I'm the only person who has to know this. So, I hope no matter the body you live in, you realize your awesomeness and avoid those commercials with the nylon girdle-type thingy.