In the Blog
Fat Positivity for the Unapologetic
Photo credit: NiaZamar, Model: Eshe Shukura
Ginika told her that ‘fat’ in America was a bad word, heaving with moral judgement like ‘stupid’ or ‘bastard,’ and not a mere description like ‘short’ or ‘tall.’ So, she had banished the word ‘fat’ from her vocabulary…She said the word ‘fat’ slowly, funneling it back and forward, and thought about all the other things she had learned not to say aloud in America. ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
Recently in the media Black women’s bodies in particular have been under high scrutiny. If you Google Beyoncé or Rihanna right now much of what shows up is focused on their bodies and the changes they are going through. It is clear that Fat is still deemed as a bad word. The internet memes implying that Quantasia Sharpton is too fat to have possibly slept with Usher reveal how much our society literally steals away desirability and humanity from fat women. All the memes implying Rihanna must be pregnant as a way of explaining her recent weight gain are a sad reminder that while the body positivity movement is in full effect we still need a more comprehensive conversation around Fat positivity, one that includes sexual health, desirability and awareness around consent.
Recently while in conversation with a friend, we shared stories around how people have discussed and treated our bodies and the shame that has come from it. Folks have implied she should be willing to have sex and that consent wouldn’t be a factor because fat women are “lucky if someone chooses to sleep with them.” Personally, I have had partners critique my outfits and blatantly tell me they believe a woman my size should reframe from wearing certain clothes. Living in a fat body in Western society is difficult because of the blame from friends, family and the medical model as a whole, but there is a certain type of pain and violence that comes from being made to feel undesirable, unimportant and unseen.
Self Love Tips
This article is not meant to convert those who are Fatphobic into being Fat Positive. It is meant to affirm for Fat women living the reality daily that you are beautiful and loved. You are seen and appreciated. Here are a few tools that helped me as I learned how to love my body in a world that makes it so difficult:
Start to spend more time looking in the mirror: The personal journey of learning to love my body as it is, rather than spending all my time, energy and money trying to be something else required simply looking at it. Personally, I needed to learn to get comfortable with my reflection. This is my challenge to you. For the next 30 days, each time you glimpse yourself in the mirror, give yourself a compliment about your physical body. Say one kind thing about the body you live in, your being is so deserving of your love.
Dress the way you want for the body you have: I remember so many years I spent not liking my body and wishing to look different. In those years, I denied my body the joys of skirts, high waisted shorts or crop tops. Over time, I realized that the key to looking great in my clothing was dressing myself in the ways that made my soul sing. I learned to love my body more after allowing it to be art. My challenge to you is to wear one item that intimidates you. Start around the house and when you are comfortable take it to the fashion runway of the streets.
Write a love letter to yourself: Most of us who are struggling with our weight are also dealing with emotional trauma and expectations we have for what beauty should be. Think back to a moment you were not very kind to your body and write a letter to yourself forgiving yourself for that moment. This is an opportunity to start rebuilding your relationship with your body in ways that fell affirming.
Here is my love letter to self, hopefully this can provide a sense of affirmation to you, dear reader:
You have survived. I mean really you have thrived. I wasn’t sure a few times if we could do this. The first few years in this new country felt terrifying to say the least. I spent a lot of time trying to run away from you, I read so many books because I felt safer in my mind then in my body. I never liked the way people would stare at you, talk about you. The first 15 years of our life together people would say “you’re big for your age” until they started to just say “you’re big”. I ignored you, neglected you, starved you and was so unkind, and for that I’m sorry. These past seven years have been good though. We have finally started to get a rhythm going, and for that I’m grateful. I feel like I started a war between my body and mind because I felt so ashamed of you. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for being patient with me. I see you now. When I look at you I smile now. The curve of where my stomach meets my hips is no longer a source of shame but a point of intimacy I remind my lovers not to forget. My thick thighs no longer are to be hidden but now I see them as representative of how strong you are, how resilient you are. You keep me standing even when there were days I believed I had nothing to stand for. I remember when crop tops were for the girls over there and you have taught me that crop tops are for baddies like us. Thank you for teaching me how to love you. I vow to you to keep learning, and keep trying daily. I gave up red meat three years ago after I realized you didn’t like it, I’m still working on dairy though. It tastes so good! Every day I hope to love you better. I know we have been through many difficult moments. People who never asked for consent. People who didn’t respect how beautiful we are. Lovers who claimed to love me but didn’t see the beauty in you. I’m sorry we went through that. Moving forward I have committed that loving me requires loving you. I will take you on more long walks, to the ocean to swim, and put on my sexiest underwear sometimes just to go to bed for you. I will ensure you always feel loved. Some days will be difficult but I will never give up on you, because you have never given up on me. You are deserving of unconditional love.
I wrote “Bootylicious” because, at the time, I’d gained some weight and the pressure that people put you under, the pressure to be thin, is unbelievable. I was just 18 and you shouldn’t be thinking about that. You should be thinking about building up your character and having fun, and the song was just telling everyone to forget what people are saying, you’re bootylicious. That’s all. It’s a celebration of curves and a celebration of women’s bodies. - Beyoncé