That is a fight…discussion…debate that we are having in America right now. And it is real. To stand up to say, “I matter”…and people who look like me are important.
And it is….and I am coming today to discuss it in a totally different light.
One that hit me in my heart.
Let’s be real.
I’m a thick chick.
Officially obese. But agile and athletic enough to not be on any doctor’s radar. Not diabetic. No high blood pressure. But I got that fupa and that pouch that just hangs over the cooch area ready to bestow any present to anyone who dares to lift it up.
I been a hippy girl since puberty tracked me down and sprinkled fairy dust on my curves. I spent time in my teens looking at Aaliyah dance moves knowing my stomach would never be that flat. I never dared a two piece but smiled in every picture with hand on my hip and not to be afraid to dip. I knew then I was bigger than the ideal. So unfortunately I spent time covering up and letting my clothes tell my story.
I related to Queen Latifah, Kim Coles and Freddie. The quirky, tomboy who was happy with life. And I was. I had been blessed with breast in college and used them to hid ID cards, cash, a wallet and a shot glass every once in a while. I didn’t show off my curves. Not my stello. And really didn’t figure out how to style myself until late 20s. A black dress was an easy club outfit. I shopped at Walmart for life and Rainbow when it was time to be rachet… and my hair was always easy.
Jeans, t-shirt and a bob…and sometimes a vest. I literally got my style from Living Single.
My body would sometimes lean out or fluff up. I learned about nutrition around 30, but by that time my metabolism was wearing thin. I noticed that in my quest of love and relationships, I would breathe easier when a man would say he was attracted to thick women. Dating profiles would always include a full length picture so I wouldn’t be accused of hiding who or what I am. I could run half marathons but no matter what…I was going to have an ass and some flab. Some bounce back.
I wasn’t confident with it. I was just was with it. Like I said…I knew I wasn’t the ideal. And truthfully, in my late 30s…my hope and my body began to dwiddle. My life just became the goal….don’t go over 200. And I held that down.
Don’t want to talk about about diets and lifestyle. I am simply talking at the psyche of who I was during this time. Television never showed me, or if someone like me made it…they was sassy, extra, with weaves and long nails. Weaves make me itchy. But my body on camera wasn’t there…or had a disclaimer of “plus size”. I remember when Beyonce was regarded as curvy…and I knew my curves and her’s were on separate highways.
40 hit and I became tired with my body. With dating. With trying and I just was going to be happy, healthy and not die. I fought to long to be something…and I had to put away energy into loving and just being. So my body got to breath. Spanx packed away…and I rested. Also noticing that men stopped calling…or I became a fool’s fetish. Not what I desired. But I couldn’t fight no more, plus stress adds pounds.
I say all that because I am fortunate to have love in my life. That’s all y’all get. Still new, still mine…still fresh…and I get them giggles. So, I’m not talking about who or what he is to me. Other than, he is awesome. And there are times when he rests his hands right there on my fupa and plays with my stomach.
And I flinch.
I draw my breath in….sometimes I even hold it. I make plans to go running in the morning. Eat more salads. Practice a plank. He rests his hands on my curves and I am ashamed because my curves are resting in a menopausal status and won’t ever be taunt.
And in the back of my mind I feel like he is making do. That I have such a great personality that he doesn’t mind the extra weight. The fluff that flaunts. The stomach that isn’t flat, or the body that swallows the lingerie. I have looked at him many times and felt the need to work an angle or hold a breath. I don’t look like the norm. Who society has taught me what I need to be to land a him.
And then one foggy Christmas Eve, he introduced me to his world. The world of Nigerian love stories and I was hooked. The dramatics, overacting, the frustration of story plots and the randomness of moments. And of course….the yelling. The time we spent watching it all I know is there was tons of hair weave, three children, a driver, a funny nanny, two hand guns, three people cheating, a pastor and a hair bonnet. But what I walked away with was more powerful than the moment when Beatrice kicked Paul out of the house.
The women, the leading women looked like me. A diverse set of beautiful women with hips and natural cleavage. With a jiggle and a wiggle. The characters were simply just women…all of us in different shades and different glories. And I loved watching them on the screen.
It wasn’t just one big girl to represent us all. Or the one that was only the quirky friend. Or the one…hence, it wasn’t one. It looked like my homegirls. My family tree. The women down the street. The leading lady had cafeteria worker arms. The arms that are blessed to make the rolls at the church watch night services. And it made me breathe just a bit easier.
See, my man (yeah…I paused when I said it)…grew up with images of women who looked like women. A variety of them…so there is not a shape in his mind of what is acceptable. Only the image of what he likes. He makes no amendment or adjustment when he was looking for his mate. He didn’t have to worry about if the personality can compensate for the other. He just knew what he was attracted to. And it was not defined to him by a materialistic society that sales fashion in size 2.
Wow. The power of what we visually put into our heads and spaces that equate towards who we become as adults. I worked with young boys who define who they date by shades of color. Young girls who want babies with good hair. And I’ve dated men disappointed on where my weight falls on a scale. We see prenups now with clauses that demand the partner not to let themselves go. And we are lying in this society about how much work is done at a plastic surgeon’s home.
I don’t want to preach. I really just want to praise. I been stuck watching Nigerian movies this winter break. Watching just multitudes of women across the youtube screens. Smiling and laughing and watching women act. And feel no pressure on my waistline. Not feeling less then.
And loving and letting someone play scales on my fupa. And breathing while he does so.
Body image is important. We can talk as much as we want to but until we change the visuals it really doesn’t matter. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the 90s where we did get to have some representation. Now….I don’t know who kids see. And the image of who we are, body wise, intelligence wise, or future wise is become more and more scarce. Unless u watch Nigerian romance movies.