Published in the Spring 2012 issue • Body Politics
In Praise of the Vulnerable Femme
Continued from page 1
My breasts sag.
I am 27.
I have never been pregnant.
I say this because saggy tits are 'supposed' to be a product of breast feeding, of gravity, of time. Saggy tits are assumed to be the after effects of perky youthful breasts, saggy tits are cash-poor tits, working class, too tired to wear a bra tits. Saggy tits are 'African', anthropological exposition, Black dyke tits.
They told me they were ugly. They said it in thousands of ways. And then they finished by reminding me that 'it's what's inside that counts'. To paraphrase an old trini saying, if wishes were horses then Black Girls would ride.
I wished them higher, smaller, bigger, fatter, lighter, less areola, more nipple— more and less. I wished myself away on a daily basis. I wished away Blackness, Femme-ness, Soft-ness on a daily basis.
So I began this process to love all of me and to do it now. Not in the future when I am more or less, but now as a manifestation of divinity in this world, I had to love them, me, us whole. I share this story to share my strategy of self-love, knowing that all our practices are different and there is enough room at the table to hold them all. There is no monolithic Femme Of Colour identity, I don't speak for you and you don't speak for me. There is abundance in voice and representation.
First, it required me being honest in describing my breasts at least to myself. I practiced saying this ugly word 'saggy', I tried other words like soft, thin skinned, I described the tiger stripes flowing like rivers to the earth. I thought about them, I wrote about them. I wrote about my large dark brown areolas, the dark, rich blue vein that wraps itself around my left breast and the soft sweet beauty spot that sits above my right nipple.
And then I touched them. I stopped holding them up, cupping them, shrouding them, finding a thousand ways to create the illusion that my breasts don't sag, because mama's they certainly do. I wanted to see what they could do naturally, see how they like to fall forward, to the side. I looked at them. I looked at them for a long time. Imagined that they were the only breast in the world. Imagined what it would be like to love them whole, full, whole — love them like no one has told me different.
And then I had to say it out loud, still in safety. With my grrlz, my fr-amily (friends who are chosen family), with all of them as much as I could, I talked about my saggy breasts. I reminded them that I didn't need to be reassured that they don't, nor do I need to be told that I am still pretty anyway or that it doesn't matter because breasts are meant to feed babies. And it was hard for all my sisters to do, to let me say that I have saggy breasts and to agree and acknowledge that I have saggy breasts. They looked at me lovingly and struggled hard because they didn't want to hurt me and this world and body judgments are often used to hurt us.
And then we talked. We talked about the shame and performance around brown bodies and I realized that in that moment, holding each other's stories, that I was angry, we were angry and tired. Although we were tired and full of rage, we also knew that had all that we needed — and exhaustion and anger have a place in this revolution especially as it flows forth from our lipsticked mouths, and open legs, and delicious brains. We have all that we need to love ourselves and the world is afraid and threatened by this power that lives within us, our enormous resilience and fyre. And as we spoke with honesty, with shame, with anger and with admiration, I learned that the fact that we are all still here is a profound act of self-love. That was all that I needed to affirm myself as a loving being, as deserving of worship and as resistance to violence.
I love that my breasts sag. I haven't always and some days are better than others.
But I promise you that I do. This system has been built on the misery of womyn of colour, our joy and our self-acceptance are among the most radical ways we resist on the daily to the occupation of our bodies and our minds. And I want to acknowledge the multitude of ways that we love ourselves to liberate ourselves.