Today is Love Your Body Day! Created by NOW (National Organization for Women) Foundation, the purpose of this campaign is to educate and encourage women and girls to say “no” to negative stereotypes and “yes” to awareness, health and a positive body image. The campaign continues to counter unrealistic beauty standards, gender stereotypes and sometimes harmful images imposed by media and advertisers with a simple but powerful message to women and girls — Love Your Body!
I’ve always been on the thin side. Now, you may be thinking, “I wish I had always been thin; I definitely wouldn’t have a problem with that.” Because, of course, to most of mainstream America, being thin is the ideal, something to strive for. But, for me, as a black girl/woman, being thin is not the ideal. Although I love my body right now, it took me years to get here.
My desire to be thick (i.e., curvy) began in high school, the time when many of our body issues begin. People would act like being thin and black didn’t go together, and I would constantly get comments about my weight like, “Oh my God! You’re soooo skinny!” or “You need to eat!,” or people would ask, “Do you eat?” (And to this day, I still get comments). As you can probably guess, this got really old after a while. And on top of the comments, it seemed like the majority of black guys like(d) thick, curvy girls, and this was, and still is, a constant message in rap and hip-hop. So, needless to say, I began to feel insecure and inadequate. I wanted to be thick and curvy like a “normal” black girl, not because I hated myself, but mainly because I wanted to feel like I was “black enough” (whatever that means), and honestly, I wanted boys to find me attractive. I figured that I would get my body when I got to college (you know, the whole freshmen 15 thing). Well, that didn’t exactly happen. I did ultimately gain about 10 pounds, but it took me four years to do so.
I think the light bulb came on for me when I was a freshman in college. This guy told me, “You would be a dime (i.e., a 10) if you were thick.” I’ll never forget that. I think him saying that to me made me pause and actually think about why I wanted to gain weight. Was I doing it because I wanted to feel better about myself and my looks? Or was I doing it because I wanted to feel validated and wanted the approval of other people? I realized that I didn’t want to be thick because I truly wanted to; I wanted to be thick because I wanted other people to approve of how I looked. It honestly didn’t bother me to be thin because I thought I was pretty, that my body was, at the very least, decent and hey, I could eat whatever I wanted. I just wanted people to see me as an authentic, sexy, attractive black woman. But, I now know that black women come in all shapes and sizes, and that’s freakin’ fantastic! I’m not less black because I only have a few curves, and she’s not more black because she looks like a video vixen. I learned that if a guy doesn’t want to be with me because I’m not thick, then he’s obviously not the guy for me because I am much more than my body. I also learned that my body is amazing just because of what it can do: It gets me around, it allows me to work, hug, etc. And the most important lesson I learned is that I’m sexy/beautiful/gorgeous in my own unique way — and you are, too!
So, ladies, let’s forget about what society says is the “perfect” body, what men, other women or anyone else says. We have to know for ourselves that we are beautiful — and perfect and amazing– right now, just the way we are.
And in the words of Christina Aguilera: … “We are beautiful, no matter what they say…We are beautiful in every single way.”
This post is a part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival.