Throughout my life, I've had this love-hate relationship with my body. I've weighed over 120 pounds for as long as I can remember (now my weight is somewhere between 130 and 135 pounds). My stomach is flat. My thighs have always been too big for me to understand. My butt has become this idea that draws unwanted attention at times. My hips are too pretentious because they are always dominant in everything that I wear. My breasts are small enough for me to often wonder, "When will they grow?".
Add being muscular to the mix. Because of working out, my legs are big, yet muscular. My thighs bulge out and my hips are wider. My butt has become firm although it still manages to take control of the rest of my body. My arms and shoulders make me look stocky.
I thought I was ok with my body type until last week. Under the influence of white gaze, I learned that I was not thoroughly content with my body. I was attending a ceremony at which I was receiving a scholarship. I thought the dress that I wore was fine. But what was supposed to be a great moment turned out to be a cautionary reminder that my body was an anomaly. The stares and grins that were responses to my smiles and attempted hellos told me that people were not seeing me; they could not get past how "different" my body was. Even as I began to approach my teacher, she looked at me as if I made her uncomfortable before walking right past me. People stared me up and down as if my curves were not accepted. I could not wait to get out of that event and escape those dreaded stares. I couldn't stop the tears from pouring down my face as I left.
"Maybe I shouldn't have worn that dress; If I was just a bit thinner, then maybe I would have been treated better," I thought to myself. But if I had not worn that dress, it would just had been another dress that received the same treatment. No matter how many times I try to hide my curves, they always prevail. Thus, I thought that there was something wrong with my body.
The treatment that I received made me think of all the times that black women have been bashed for having a unique body type. From the days of slavery, black women have been taught that their bodies are too complicated to be accepted while at the same time their bodies were being appropriated by the same people who criticized them. I thought of Sarah Baartman and how she was used to contribute to the ignorance of pseudoscience in racism. Her body was displayed as some sort of animal attraction for white people who were too shallow to understand the beauty of a black woman's body type. I thought about Serena Williams whose body has been considered less feminine simply because she had muscles. I thought of Michelle Obama and how her body has been bashed because she didn't have the standard first lady figure.
I do not have the average body type. I have never been a skinny girl. My curves have always prevailed in literally everything that I wear. But because of similar instances to last week that I have experienced, I tried hiding my body. Like Sarah Baartman, white gaze made me feel that my body was not enough. I wore clothes that did not show off my figure because I assumed that my body wasn't enough to be accepted.
However, the past couple of days have made me realize that my body is enough. I am done with trying to fit my body for society's standards. If people don't like it, then I am ok with that. I am not here to adjust my body in order to make others comfortable. I embrace my wide hips, my thick and bulging thighs, my fat and toned ass, my big arms and broad shoulders, my small breasts that I jokingly criticize for resembling mosquito bites, my strong legs, and my flat stomach that will have a six-pack pretty soon. I love my body, and that's all that matters.
For black girls who have too often felt like their bodies were not accepted, remember that your body is too beautiful and uniquely complex for others to comprehend.