I have to admit my homies, I had no idea that writing about these things was going to be quite so emotionally wrought for me.
Not that I haven't thought about these things but sharing them is something else.
Now I'm going to go back to that same age range. 18-22ish or so because that was the age I started to want to form more of a concrete idea about my Blackness and what it meant to my identity at the time.
For reference I'm going to go back further actually so you understand where I'm coming from.
My formative years were spent in very White community. I had no Black teachers, I was 90% of the time the only Black child in my class. The only adults of color I knew well were my family and a few family friends.
I remember once my favorite librarian looked at me and said, "You are very eccentric." I think I was eight years old and I looked up the word immediately and was very very pleased.
Even up through high school there were not that many Black kids and I honestly didn't know most of the other Black kids well.
Okay now as I was reading more about things like the history of the Civil Rights movement, Black nationalism etc this is when it started to really dawn on me that according to the view of not only a good number of my friends but the world at large I was not beautiful and could not be.
When I was 18-19 I wasn't really fat in the grand scheme of things. I was bigger than most of my friends but in all reality I was probably a size 8-10 or so. A chubby girl with a shit fuck ton of muscle underneath.
I did not get asked out on dates by people I went to school with and grew up with. Some of my most important social interaction (and yes sex) was with people outside of that particular realm. Even though I did yes get some action here and there, it hurt a lot that I was not considered (at least not to my face) an attractive person.
At that age, it was important to hear that yes, you're pretty from someone other than my family.
Further more because I was not yet at the point of knowing how to confront some of the things I heard I suffered them in silence.
The thing that I think hurt me most back then was the casual racism.
I remember standing with my friends and someone said they all of a sudden could smell bubblegum or something I remember one girl saying:
"I bet it was some Black persons hairgrease."
I remember I wanted to cry but I didn't. I didn't say anything to that girl but I honestly never respected her whatever after that.
There were also the (unfortunately unavoidable) fat hate moments where I just never knew what to say back then.
One friend saying that a girl in an activity with us was a "fat cow". Now the girl in question was visibly quite a bit smaller than me and I remember thinking, "if you think she's a fat cow what do you say about me?"
I was forever hearing who was a fat bitch and whatnot and I shriveled up a lot. I started to see my body as something so ugly and shameful. I felt ugly and shameful.
So once I got out of high school (which sucks for everyone at some point) and I started really paying attention I began to understand several things that were only reinforced by magazines targeted to Black people.
Despite what you might think I did not hear love yourself blablabla.
All of the images of women held up as Beautiful Black women were nothing like me and nothing like how I was growing up.
The models mostly all had long straight hair, long legs etc. On the whole most of the Black "role" model type women were not all that different from the models in every other magazine save for their skin color.
Matter of fact most of the beauty advice I got was about how to make myself look less Black. How to contour my nose with make up so it looked smaller, how to use a fade cream properly to lighten my skin, that I should go on diets so I could lose weight.
As I got a little older I started to process what I felt were extreme gaps in my education and upbringing.
Being that I live (then and now) in Seattle, I ran into a lot of people who seemed to think nothing of telling me (in a dating kind of context) that they don't find me attractive because I am Black. Or there were the tons of men mostly who found it perfectly all right to tell me that all they wanted was to fuck me because they had some kind of Black girl fantasy.
People have felt no sense of shame or fuck manners, in asking me why Black women (insert thing here)? Whether it was the stereotype that Black women "are supposed" to have "thick" bodies. And why wasn't I shaped more like that?
Okay I think I need to stop here for the day I'm getting pissed off all over again.
The bottom line I suppose is this.
Yes, there is the idea that Black women are lauded for being "thick" but, the fact is not a lot of us have that recognizable stereotypical fat ass, tiny waist, nice tits type build. And you know what, you're not helping when you say oh you're not fat you're thick. Or any variant of such a statement.
I will follow up to this entry with what I think is going on with a lot of Black women from my personal observances.
And let me remind you again that no I am not the Dowager Empress of All Black People. Nor is there a monthly Black folks memo that goes out so yes we have differing opinions and experiences of Blackness and that's fine.
Now, I'm going to listen to some metal, do some writing and drink some tea.
PS...go check out my short fiction in Sex and Murder magazine this month. I'm super proud of this story 1.) because I was experimenting and they got what I was doing there and 2.) I was reminded yet again what magic having an excellent editor can be. This story was edited by my friend Anthony who is a fantastic author as well. Read that here.