It's not the load that breaks you down; it's the way you carry it." -Lena Horne

Friday, September 3, 2010

I love my booty

Love My Booty
by Loryn Wilson March 02, 2009 01:46 PM (PT) Topics: Body Image

I began my love-hate relationship with my body when I was in the 5th grade.

I was the only Black girl in a all-White private school. I grew up in a Black neighborhood. At home, I was surrounded by beautiful Black women. But when I went to school, I felt completely alone.

Every day, I would compare my body to the White girls in my class. My breasts had developed sooner than some of the girls, but more importantly, my rear end was much bigger, even at ten years old. I remember feeling ashamed to the point where I wanted to be a White girl. White girls were skinny. White girls had blue eyes. White girls had small behinds. White girls were pretty.

One day, as I sat in the breakfast nook in my family's kitchen, I asked my mother, "Mommy, why am I fat?" She looked up from the stove in amazement. "Why do you say that?" She asked me. As tears began to stream down my face, I told her I was ashamed of my body. I told her all the white girls were skinny and I was not, and why couldn't I be skinny too?

She took a seat beside me and held my hand. My beautiful mother, with her almond shaped eyes and brown skin, told me that just because Black women were shaped differently didn't mean that we were any less beautiful. It didn't mean God loved us any less. "It just means that you are beautiful in your own special way," she said.

I can't say that learning to embrace my Black female body is easy. As a single Black woman living in DC, it is a daily struggle. The story of Saartjie Baartman, who was nicknamed the "Hottentot Venus," comes
to mind. In the 18th century, Saartjie was kidnapped by British imperialists and locked in a cage, paraded as a circus freak show because of the size of her read end. Her story is reincarnated every time I deal with street harassment, with men's unwanted touching on my ass and breasts in a nightclub, with inappropriate comments from White men about my body while in college.

My story is not that much different from many other Black women. We are often taught at a early age to be ashamed of our bodies. By the mainstream media, we are taught that the Black female body is overtly sexual and therefore something that should be shunned and covered up. By some rap artists, we are told to "back that ass up."

Embracing the Black female body starts at home. Black girls need to be taught how to love their own bodies, and the ways in which a man or woman who is interested in dating them should treat them. They need to learn the difference between admiration and harassment.

And it takes the courage to grow and to explore the depths of our beauty. I had to grow to a point where I loved my shape so much that I wanted to take care of it for myself. I had to finally say that yes, I
am beautiful, sexy, and fabulous. I began to take yoga, to dance, to wear that hot sweater dress with the hot stillettos one friday night. I looked in the mirror and admired my big butt, my thick hips and
thighs. But it first started by remembering my mother's words: we are beautiful in our own way.