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On Black, Fat, Femme Positivity: Why I'm at My Heaviest, My Most Confident, and Don't Need Your Approval to Exist

"If I breathe in public for five seconds, it’s also common that someone will feel the need to tell me, “YASSSSS!” in an attempt to ch...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Moment of Truth:

I haven't been in a very "Christian" space lately.

Spiritual, sure. But my relationship with modern Christianity and the preservation of the components and elements attributed to the identity have left me weary in light of the world's traumas. Don't get me wrong. I love Jesus Christ...so much. But I've grown skeptical of what I've been taught to believe. My convictions have shifted. I have doubts. I have questions that go gravely unanswered or I'm offered Christianisms that don't help to clarify what truths are cultural and what are transcendent. Why do we believe a certain way for a certain thing and otherwise for the another?

I have grown decidedly less religious than I used to be. And I'm okay with that.

Something I'm often reminded of in my seeking and in my doubt is the grace of God and the fact that He sees and loves me.

Today I awoke with this song in my spirit and was reminded again of who God is even in the midst of how shitty the world is right now. Figured I'd share.



Thursday, May 26, 2016

On Black, Fat, Femme Positivity: Why I'm at My Heaviest, My Most Confident, and Don't Need Your Approval to Exist

"If I breathe in public for five seconds, it’s also common that someone will feel the need to tell me, “YASSSSS!” in an attempt to cheer on my fat Black femme existence like I’m a damn animal learning how to be housebroken. People love to be voyeurs of fat Blackness, and inadvertently become more problematic by trying to “yasssss” us through anything we do. Our mere survival is read as motivational to all those witnessing our existence, and it inspires everyone who’s not us because they’re actually partaking in the subordination of our humanity. Our humanity and beauty are seen as less than thin able bodied-ness, maintaining a hierarchy even when we receive these empty-ass compliments or praises. It only reaffirms that our dehumanization validates your safety." -Ashleigh Shackelford

Not even 24 hours after reading Ashleigh's full contribution: “Fuck You, Pay Me: Reparations for Fat Black Bitches and Everything We Provide” to Wear Your Voice Mag from whence the above is excerpted, I experienced this very microaggression.

Like many millennials, I have a handful of online dating accounts and/or apps. This morning I awoke to a message from a faceless profile lauding me for my daring to be confident in my pictures. He says, “I love how proud you look in your photos. Good job!”

Sir, excuse the fuck outta you! I wasn’t aware that I was doing a job by existing in this fat, Black, femme body. And since you think I'm doing such a damn good job, fuck you, pay me! I normally would clap back and read the aggressor for filth. But I didn't even have the energy, so I just blocked him. Existing is exhausting for a fat, Black woman, girl or femme. And some mornings, you just wanna get up and get ready for work without verbally handing someone their shit.

The above excerpt is so spot on. My very existence is used as either motivation porn, or is disavowed and shamed. I can't just fucking be. A thin, White woman wouldn't encounter the same type of commentary, because her being confident, comfortable and proud in who she is is normalized. Meanwhile, the fact that I would have the audacity to take a few pictures of myself, look happy and secure and post them on a dating site is a feat in the eyes of our society. FOH with that bullshit, fam.

My existence isn't a parade for you to clap and cheer (or jeer) as I walk along living my fucking life. It has taken a lot of pain and heartache to get to where I am mentally, emotionally and spiritually with myself and the space I occupy on this earth. Even now, at my heaviest (the number is none of your damned business), I am at my most confident. I feel beautiful, sexy even--whaaat?! I am 98.9% comfortable in my skin, I have a clean bill of health from my doctor as far as you are concerned (minus these muhfuggin allergies and asthma), and it ain't none of your business who is in my bed. 

My weight in pounds, my chart at the doctor's office, and who "dares" to sleep with me is none of your concern. But if you want so badly to laud my existence as me doing a good job being my gahtdamn self, cut me a check; run me my money, heaux!

I don't have much else to post here right now, as Ashleigh did a beautiful job summing up my very sentiments. But I'm sure I'll write on this subject again.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hey, Black (Girl) Child...

About every other month out of the year, I work with children on weekends at my church.

I used to work with the 4 and 5 year olds, but wanted to experience the overwhelming adorableness that is 1-year-old walkers. And take a break from raucous 4 and 5 year olds.

These little tikes are probably the cutest things you'll ever encounter. They are from families of many different backgrounds, ethnic groups and nationalities. They have their own sets of feelings and emotions, interesting personalities, likes and dislikes, etc. It's refreshing to see uninhibited human interaction.

This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of greeting (among many others) the sweetest, brown-faced little girl. I greeted her with a big "hello" and a kind smile as I picked her up to bring her into the room with the other little ones. She didn't smile back, but she was kind and her face was full of contentment.

Later, while playing with all the kiddos, my co-teacher commented on my little sweet, brown-faced friend's demeanor. Baby girl was quiet, contented, played well with others, and genuinely chill. And because she wasn't as loud, lively, or interactive as some of the other 1 year olds, my co-teacher stated that "she does have a little attitude."

I admittedly caught my breath in my throat; it felt like a bolder. My ears were hot with frustration from the violent words I'd just heard. My stomach turned with hurt for the little girl; I felt sick. While her mind may not have fully conceived what was being said about her, I knew the damage those handful of words could cause. I attempted to reinforce positivity by saying something along the lines of "she's just independent and quiet...observant." I continued to reiterate this in different ways throughout our time with the kiddos. Not just so my co-teacher could hear it, but so Baby girl could maybe see how those positive reinforcements outweighed that bad one of an unfortunate many to come. So that her quiet strength and contentment can ring loudly in her ear above presumptions about her character.

In case you were wondering, my co-teacher is non-Black and female. Yes, this matters. Here's why...

As a Black woman who once was a Black girl child, I can share my hindsight views when it comes to being a Black girl child in an overwhelmingly white [male] dominated world. I often questioned myself, my feelings, my actions or inactions, my intellect, my reservations, the validity of my very being.

When a white student's hand was picked over mine to answer a question in elementary school. When a white student said "nigga" in my presence in the lunch line in middle school and didn't recognize her wrong when I acknowledged that she shouldn't have said it--even in my own uncertainty of why she shouldn't have said it, I knew it was not okay. When in college a non-Black professor questioned the honesty of my work by accusing me of plagiarism in a classroom full of my non-Black peers. Or the many times I felt non-Black voices were privileged over mine because perhaps I was too angry, attitudinal, or presumably not as smart or as critical a thinker as the other kids.

Whatever the reasons, as a Black girl child, existence is exhausting from the beginning.

Baby girl was minding her sweet, brown-faced business being 1 year old and adorable when she was presumed to be attitudinal by a non-Black woman. 

This assumption that because I'm not fitting into your perfectly cut-out box, that I just don't fit at all. That I have to be "on" all the time. But if I'm fully feeling, I'm overemotional or overreacting; I'm a bitch; I have an attitude. These kinds of notions are damaging at best. Even to our children. More specifically, our girl children.

A Black girl child doesn't have the space to be listless, neither does she have the space to be fully feeling. At least not in this society. And if/when we are to claim that space and take it up completely, we must fight for ourselves and one another to do so.

So, as a response to my co-teacher and as encouragement to my sweet, brown-faced little friend and all other Black girl children...

Hey, Black Girl Child, an adaptation from the work of Countee Cullen

Hey, Black Girl Child
I know who you are
Who you really are
You are just like me
And there have been many telling you what to be
But if you try, you can be
What you want to be

Hey, Black Girl Child
I don't know where you are going
But you have a choice in where you are really going
I know you can learn
What you want to learn
If you try to learn
What you can learn

Hey, Black Girl Child
Don'tchu know you are strong?
I mean REALLY strong?!
I know you can do
What you want to do
If you try to do
What you can do

Hey, Black Girl Child
Be what you wanna be
Learn what you must learn
Do what you can do
And tomorrow your nation
Will be what you want it to be...maybe

Until then, just be