Through Thick and Thin

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I am on sip number one of Jack and Coke number two when he announces that he likes his women thick. And although I relinquished the inclination to knot myself in his frame awhile ago, the comment still stings my ears in a familiar fashion. I don’t like it. I try to brush it off and keep swaying to whatever the DJ is playing, but the words stick to my back like damp sweat under a dress on a hot summer’s night.

See, Black women are supposed to be thick. We’re expected to be thick. Our bodies are meant to swirl and curve and swerve and spiral in delicious and astounding ways. If they don’t do all of the above, we’ve somehow betrayed the norm and defied the preferred standard. Or at least that’s what I’ve learned and am now fighting to unlearn. That is what I’ve been told and am now working to untell myself. And, it is difficult to carve a new truth after years of the world force feeding you tablespoon after tablespoon of bullshit.

See, I’m learning that the gap between what Black women are “supposed” to be and all of the many things that we actually are is colossal and wide and deep and not quite close enough to being bridged.

I don’t want to write self-love anthems or body image anthems or any other anthems for that matter. I want to write the truth and serve it on the rocks. And the truth is my body does a lot less swirling and curving; it does a lot more standing straight. The truth is I’ve been known to settle in the mirror for a few minutes lifting my butt and fantasizing about what it would look like if it were “just a little bit bigger.” The truth is I am a ball of contradictions – a woman who urges other women to define themselves for themselves while still untangling her story from the raucous narration of Black men.

It is that narration that resounds every day while I fight to mold my own thoughts about the body I inhabit. It is that narration that crept up on me on Sunday afternoon in aisle 11 while I was simply trying to grab dishwashing detergent. It’s that narration that has made me an expert comedian when it comes to cracking jokes to my male friends about my less-than-rotund butt. It’s that narration that rolls off my tongue anytime I bop and sing Drake’s line, “And your stomach on flat flat/and your ass on what’s that.” It’s that narration that I am trying so hard to unhear after 26 years of letting it fill a few chasms in my self-esteem.

I would like to tell you that I am giving it all up–the appetite for validation, the listening ear to the body types I’ve heard Black men prefer, and the complicated relationship with my silhouette–but, that wouldn’t be quite true. Because most revelations about this life don’t come in singular Eureka moments or striking sweeps of the heart. The ways in which we grow up and unbind ourselves from the same shackles that shattered us are complex and unending, complicated and never quite complete. The ways in which we evolve and step into the fullness of ourselves are not nearly neat or seamless enough for the conclusion of a blog post.

There will be another moment when a Black man announces that he likes his women thick. I’ll still flinch on the inside. I’ll still wonder when it became kosher to stick the possessive pronoun “his” in front of an entire group of people. I’ll still grapple with drawing parallels between his statement and my view of my own body and womanhood. I’ll still be a mess of contradictions trying to throw away all of the puzzle pieces and reconfigure them the way I want. But, I will remember that I penned this piece and I hummed this hymn. I will remember that for a woman who has spent years writing her own story, it’s about time she started narrating it as well.

Xoxo,
Tyece

 

 

 

Lena Dunham Looks Good In A Bikini And So Do The Rest Of Us

Wildflowers Unscripted Writing Challenge Day 18: My body

I realize this is the third blog post I’ve written with Lena Dunham’s name in the title so excuse me while I fangirl out for a bit.

You don’t have to be an avid viewer of “Girls” to know that Lena Dunham shows her bare body on the show quite a bit. If you are an avid viewer, however, you know that in the latest episode, Dunham spent about 90% of it clad in a bright green bikini and not much else. People have a lot to say about this woman’s body. But bodies are not political statements. They are very personal storehouses. And, that’s all I want to say before I dive in to talking about my own body.

There are certain inevitable truths we have to accept in life. One of the truths I have had to accept after 24 years on this planet is that my ass will never reach the appropriate level of curvature to qualify as a great ass. I know. It’s a difficult fact to stomach. But, I think I have finally reached the final stage of grief and accepted my very narrow ass.

That doesn’t stop me from spending every night dancing in front of the mirror in my underwear. I shower at night and as I get ready to do that, I blast music. Sometimes it’s J. Cole. Other times it’s Taylor Swift. Maybe it’s Mobb Deep or Adele. It doesn’t really matter. But, it’s one of my favorite parts of the day. Me in the mirror with my god awful dance moves and my narrow ass just dancing away.

I don’t think you can talk about your body without making light of it. Because I don’t think you can take your body that damn seriously. We exist in a world that already does enough to police how we fucking use our bodies, who we decide to let touch them and how we choose to adorn them. The world already takes our bodies way too seriously. It’s a sin for us to do the same.

Accepting our bodies is an ongoing, uphill, non-stop kind of battle. At least for women. Some days you wake up and you’re bloated. Some days it feels like nothing fits. Some days you feel hot and some days you feel, well, not. There’s hardly ever any consistency in our feelings about our bodies. We want rounder butts, flatter stomachs, slimmer thighs, bigger boobs. And, while the science of Spanx and the redemption of an ASOS bodycon dress can help us along the way, the skin we are in is pretty much there to stay. It may change. It may stretch. It may shrink. But, it is still there.

A beautiful body is one that is completely accepted by its inhabitant. That’s why Lena Dunham looks good in a bikini; the mere fact that she’s not afraid to put it on is enough. It’s nice when other people like our bodies or when they want to cuddle up next to them in the middle of the night. But those things don’t really count for shit if we don’t love that same body. I know; I sound like a walking ad for a Kotex commercial.  But, trust me on this one. It’s your skin. Those are your limbs. It’s your place laced with your scars and coated in your memories. It is your body. Believe in it or doubt it. Appreciate it or analyze it.  Let people do whatever they want with it, say whatever they want about it or choose to own it and all of the rhetoric about it. This is your body. It’s not going anywhere. Love it or hate it. But loving it makes this life so much easier.

Xoxo,

Tyece