My Body Feels like a Prison, Not a Temple
Women’s bodies are constantly under scrutiny. Whether we’re slightly overweight or like to show it off, society always has something to say. Because of this, I’ve never really been comfortable with my body. For years I’ve been told to appreciate my curves. All the girls in the locker room would say “OMG! you’re so lucky to have boobs!”, even my own family would say “you should be happy, people have pay to get a shape like yours.” But it’s almost impossible to do so when you never see yourself being represented anywhere.
When a model is anything other than 5’10”, and 120 pounds, they’re seen as “plus sized”. Some are even praised when they speak out about not fitting into those standards when in reality they still don’t represent the everyday woman. Even clothing brands mark their clothes “plus sized” for shoppers that are larger than a traditional size 6. I have one pair of pants in my closet that are a size 8, and another that are a size 14. So realistically where am I supposed to find proper fitting clothes if I’m not a size 0?
Anyone who knows me knows that I wear clothes that are three times my size. I love a good baggy sweatshirt and an oversized denim jacket. The reason for this is because I feel like my body speaks for me before I can speak for myself, so I try to hide it. The first thing people (especially men) see is my physical appearance. People wouldn’t look at me and think that I enjoy Star Wars and listen to Motorhead, because they’ve already put me in a specific category based on what I look like. “Hmm…big boobs.. round hips… she must like the Migos. And I’m sure she watches Love & Hip-Hop”. Incorrect! I even remember my college roommates would call me “bootylicious” all the time and asked if I could twerk. I’m still cringing. There’s a specific family that people love to hate, (I’m lost on the name… I think it starts with a K…?) because of them people now assume women with asses and tits are supposed to just show it off 24/7. And that’s not the case.
Even after losing 40 or so pounds, I feel uncomfortable showing my results off. When I would wear more fitting clothes, people (again mostly MEN) would gaze at me and think it was okay to approach me with sexual remarks. I really enjoy exercising, but I don’t feel comfortable doing it in public. As you could probably guess, things like jumping jacks and burpees are the bane of my existence because I feel like I’m putting on a show for the creeps at the gym. I’m just minding my own business, like damn let me do my thing BRAD. Brad Pitt however, could interrupt me any day of the week, okay?! Alright back to what I was saying. Just because someone fits the description of an overly sexual woman (which like what does that even really mean?) it doesn’t mean that’s who they are. Part of this is due to the Jezebel stereotype inflicted on black women, but we’ll get into that another time…
Not only am I curvy, but I’m also VERY short. I’m only 5’1″. I can fit into kids shoes but clearly I cannot fit into kids clothing. Designers don’t really think about short people when they’re making clothes. So if a pair of pants fits around the waist, theres a 99% chance they’re going to be a foot too long. The only word that comes to mind for this is… STUPID. Why would I want to pay extra money to constantly get things tailored? Some brands have started to make pants for people who are shorter or taller than the average person, but it’s a very small percentage. And most of the time, it’s not even good quality.
It’s pretty difficult to “love the skin you’re in” when all the different skin colors and shapes of the world aren’t even being represented the way they should be. When I was around 13 I used to love flipping through the pages of Vogue, until I began to realize I’ll NEVER look like these women. Nobody should look at these women as the standard of beauty, but especially not a 13 year old girl going through puberty. What makes matters worse, is that the plus-sized women I mentioned before are typically white women.
I know there’s not much I can do to change my physical appearance. It’s a hard pill to swallow some days, but I’ve accepted it. I have a few friends who have gotten breast reductions, and they say it’s boosted their confidence and even improved their ability to exercise, so that’s always an option for me!
I’m not writing this to get any sort of sympathy from anyone. My point is to show how damaging society’s standards are to women’s self esteem. What’s more important though is my physical health, rather than my physical appearance. Sure someone can be naturally thin, but if they don’t take care of whats on the inside the outside doesn’t really matter in my opinion. It’s upsetting to think that people will subject themselves to crazy fad diets and fall victim to eating disorders just because society sets such unobtainable standards.
The best way for me to boost my overall self confidence is to make sure I take time to appreciate the things I do love about myself. I love my thick hair and my ability to change the style and color from week to week. I love my strong arms and the ever growing collection of ink I display on them. And let’s be real, I would be lying if I said this face wasn’t easy on the eyes!!!