Conversations about women’s bodies (and the issues surrounding our perception of them) are generally predicated on the notion that we’re inherently insecure about the way we look.
For me, this isn’t the case. In fact, I bet there are plenty of women out there just like me who are otherwise confident about our appearance, yet still harbor subtle, dysfunctional behaviors in regards to how we take care of ourselves. Because of this, I wish that we had a more layered understanding of how women grapple with stress and beauty standards. It’s important to recognize how body issues manifest through different kinds of quirks and bad habits. It’s also important to recognize that our individual relationships to the absurd beauty standards that we so often complain about are more complex than we generally make them seem.
Like I said, I love my figure.
Growing up, my favorite male rappers’ obsessions with Georgia peaches and heaving chests suggested that I was supposed to want the same for myself but I never did. I like my small breasts and slim hips, and so do the men I sleep with. These men and I like my slender frame with its thin waist and round backside. I’ve always been skinny, but I’ve also always been toned and curvaceous enough to be seen as active and womanly. Fishing for compliments is something I’ve never had to do.
So I unapologetically consider myself to be attractive and I accept that I am vain. Maybe God will punish me for writing this someday but I try to be as honest in my writing as I can. It feels good to flaunt my body and I flaunt it whenever I have the energy to do so: tight, low-rise jeans; mini-skirts; teased or fully bare midriffs; plunging necklines; high heels that perk up my butt.
In my eyes, celebrating the way I look (and the way other Black women look) is a birthright. Ever since my ancestors were brought to this side of the world, White supremacist patriarchy (and a few clueless scientists) deemed Black women as being biologically ugly. When I regard myself as one of the beautiful people, it is a revolutionary act.
But that’s not to say that I don’t have issues with my body. In and out of plain sight, I punish it through horrible nutrition, stagnant days behind computer screens and driving wheels, late nights obsessing over tasks and writing projects that were slated to have been finished hours earlier. It’s been this way ever since I was a teen. Every time I’m anxious about something or I’m angry at myself for something that I did or didn’t do, I take it out on my appearance.