Amplify Black Women’s Voices-#3.Black Body Image: My Body, My Boobs, My Butt, My Baby Hair

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~In the womb of my black mother my body was on  high-alert, fighting to be beautifully formed and shaped without apology.

One of my earliest memory is of being told that I was too dark and not pretty. Shamed before I could walk or talk. I am sure in the womb of my black mother my body was already being assaulted by a world not ready for my little girl fire, fighting to be formed and shaped without apology. While on the playground in Kindergarten singing a nursery rhyme in a circle full with other girls; a boy pulled down my too big skirt-I was ashamed and felt shame of my body. “Salaam is too skinny”-words I remember hearing from the kids in my class and even teachers.

I started overeating falling in love with the snack machine after 3 p.m. that year and by the third grade year I was becoming overweight, big, and fat. I spent over 35 years of my life big, fat, and bodacious yet suffering from a fair amount of body, skin color, and black body image shame. Black body image shame for me means that the color of my skin, the size of my thighs, and the natural muscular ancestral make-up of my body was wrong according to societal standards including the kink of my 4-C curly hair strands.

It wasn’t just the size of my body that was a so-called problem it was the blackness of my being and the nature of my curves and my DNA. Undoubtedly, many black girl bodies experience anti-blackness based on the structure of their cells and the rounded lips and hips past down from the ancestors. The struggle to love the skin I am in is and has been all too real. I am starting with neutrality and at least liking me when I am challenged to love me completely.

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It took me years to drop weight for health; however I also did it out of spite against the hate people spewed against my “fat face and big feet” that didn’t fit well into corporate boardrooms or professional spaces. As much as black men fetishize black bodies this occurs for many behind the bedroom door leaving many “not skinny thick” black women lonely which may be a reason I did it as well. I have also found that for some women who try to remain thick and fit they may do this through butt injections and waist snatchers. Therefore even after losing the pounds I didn’t lose the insecurities and the black body image shame incited from society remained a stain in my brain.

This I am learning…

  • Skinny doesn’t equal happy
  • My waist isn’t snatched to the Gawds
  • I am not about that Thick-Fit Lyfe——-Sometimes I just feel real fat

Although, I maintain the weight loss for the most part; I have gained some weight as a result of stress and life circumstances. I spent a lot of time a few years ago attempting to follow the body positivity movements. I felt as if I don’t belong. A 41 year-old size Large Black Women in the south who craves carbs because my body needs the energy as my ancestors did didn’t fit in well with the values of mainly white wealthy beauty and positivity body bloggers.

The body positive movement approaches towards loving our bodies seemed to be targeted towards those who solely have access to privilege i.e. organic foods, pricey self-care rituals, trendy exercise routines, faux meditation models, and high class therapy.

Lately, I have been thinking about finally writing a LOVE LETTER to my body not just for what it can do or has done but for the ancestors that are living within. I don’t know if or when I will ever get around to doing that letter in its entirety and perhaps it is a life-long process; though it is becoming an urge from my spirit to at least try. Maybe I’ll begin with a few lines at a time…

The Skin I am In

In her is the soul of soldiers, saints, and strippers.

Thank God-my Thighs are Thick!

Refrain-The Skin I am in

Her bones are made up of DNA that sings the Gospel truth.

Thank God-my Thighs are Thick!

Refrain-The Skin I am in

Ancestors created her unique melanin- the beauty of her Black hue

Refrain-The Skin I am in

Yes Lord, Yes!

As far as the rest of this love letter, I am sure it will come. While today, I can definitely say I am proud of myself for the willingness to release some of the shame.

Thank you to the ancestors for the courage to allow my body image banter to sprinkle on the pages of my literary healing space. If you like please follow me here and on FB and IG @beautifulblackpoetry and twitter @ salaamgreen1

Write to Heal, my Loves-xo

Salaam Green-Proud carrier of Grandma Washington’s Thick Thighs, Born and Breed as the Black Belt Babe in Greensboro, Alabama-Catfish capital of the South….  where I fell in love with the land and the people who groomed it daily, Daughter of the Foot Wash an African American southern spiritual experience for lovers of art and rural culture. Architect of words and devourer of soul food. 2016 Poet Laureate for Entrepreneurship; Award Winning Author, National and Locally Published Writer, Poet, Social Justice Activist-founder of Literary Healing Arts, LLC. a women owned business that promotes the healing power of words through youth and adult literary engaging workshops, write to heal community health and healing circles, personal development mentoring and soul advising and creative business coaching for women living in rural America who seek to make a change and transform their lives and the community they serve and live in. Salaam is in the business of supporting people to write their lives back together again. Follow Salaam on Instagram @beautifulblackpoetry. Twitter: salaamgreen1, and the Black Belt Babe Business blog-literaryhealingart.com
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