Even though we share some common lines, I don’t know what it is to live in Roxane Gay’s body.
Roxane Gay had weight loss surgery (WLS) and I have many opinions and feelings about that but it is also none of my goddamn business what Roxane Gay does to Roxane Gay’s body. And that’s a hard pill to swallow. Gay has been one of the most visibly fat women of color working today. She has written a number of articles, books, and even comics. She has spoken passionately for fat activism, her book, “Hunger”, was about her struggles with food, trauma, and her own body. Her work has struck a chord with many fat feminists who found solace and strength in her words, myself included, but none of that gives me any room or right to tell her what she can and can’t do with her body. She outlines why she made this choice in her piece, “What Fullness Is” for Unruly Bodies. It was not one that she came to easily and she was pondering it off and on for a number of years before finally going through with the process. And it comes to this: She lived under multiple marginalizations for her entire life when, given a choice to be able to opt out of one, to give herself a break from the constant abuse of the world, she did. I’m a visible, fat, Black woman. I’m smaller than Gay which affords me more privilege than her in navigating this world, but I still get the abuse, the constant messages that should hate myself for my fatness, my Blackness. It is exhausting to always be in a position where you feel you have to prove you are worthy of just existing.
Let’s make sure we stay body positive and aren’t feeding into the toxic diet culture when talking about our journey.
By Dr. Jonathan P. HigginsA few months ago I was reminded of how much I missed working out. As someone who viewed the gym as one of the best stress relievers, I began to realize that my addiction to food and “rest” was now compromising my health. After gaining almost 75 pounds, dealing with issues related to my blood pressure and constantly being made to feel as if I should buy an additional seat on a plane (I fly often), I finally decided that I needed to get back to doing the one thing that made me feel my best: exercising. Over the years, I have always struggled with my weight. After losing almost 150 pounds in college, I realized how beneficial exercising was to my physical and emotional health. As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, going to the gym was always the one thing that helped me feel better about my outlook on life. Running gave me a moment to let my mind breath. Aerobic classes gave me a moment to just center myself with the music and the connections I made with others in the classes. The gym had always been my escape. After contending with hating how I felt and hating how I looked, I re-committed myself to going to a local gym. A few weeks after being told by several of my friends that I was beginning to lose weight, I thought about posting a photo on social media to talk about how much weight I was losing and how important fitness was. But in that moment, it truly hit me: what I was about to post was not only problematic in the sense that the undertone of said post was fat-shamey, but the post was in turn telling other BIPOC that the only way they could be seen as worthy and beautiful was if they too decided to pick up a weight loss regime. In this, I began thinking deeper about how BIPOC people can talk about their weight loss without it coming across as fat phobic and how we can hold others accountable when equating weight loss with beauty.
Black women's bodies are hyper-sexualized and we need to make sure the language around body positivity doesn't reinforce racist and sexist fetishization.
Demetria Obilor, traffic reporter at a Texas news station, recently responded to body-shaming comments made about her style of dress. The comments focused on her body size and her choice to wear clothing that does not hide her figure. This situation is reminiscent of Patrice Brown, more commonly and affectionately known as Teacher Bae, who suddenly found herself under a microscope and under review by her employer when a photo of her went viral and garnered comments about how her wardrobe was inappropriate for the classroom. Both of these women, and many more, are fighting a constant battle against unwarranted and unwelcome commentary about their bodies and how they choose to dress them. Not necessarily because of their size, but because of their shape. “Has anyone seen Channel 8’s new morning traffic reporter? Her name is Demetria Obilor & she’s a size 16/18 woman in a size 6 dress and she looks ridiculous,” wrote Jan Shedd in a now-deleted Facebook post. “I understand that when I watch Channel 8 I’m going to get biased reporting and political correctness, but clearly they have taken complete leave of their senses. I’m not going to watch Channel 8 anymore.”The post went viral after Chance the Rapper retweeted a screenshot of it with the simple caption “BIIIIIIG MAD.” https://twitter.com/fabfreshandfly/status/926508650947940352 https://twitter.com/chancetherapper/status/926519148988989441 Obilor's response was astute, matter of fact, and refreshing: “A quick word to those people: this is the way that I’m built, this is the way I was born, I’m not going anywhere, so if you don’t like it you have your options.”While I support Demetria and her response to the racism and body shaming she continues to experience, I feel like there's something else to be found beneath its many layers. Something else about this situation bothers me. Both Obilor and Brown are “pear” shaped, light-skinned Black women. Their very existence in the bodies they were born into is readily fetishized, and not just by the color struck purveyors of colorism. With their light skin, small waistlines, and prominent hips and butts, they inhabit the seemingly most desired, coveted, and worshipped body type, for Black women especially. But there is something at play here besides the fact that people of all races, genders, and sexualities constantly attempt to police Black women's bodies. It's beyond the fact that Black women, regardless of appearance, are always-already sexualized. It's beyond the fact that curvy body types are always deemed inappropriate no matter what we wear.
Far too many people see fat bodies being desired as an impossibility, and see fat people as wholly unworthy of physical intimacy.
At least two women and one man have brought a lawsuit against Usher for knowingly exposing them to herpes and failing to disclose his status prior to sexual encounters with them. Though, he reportedly denies this. One of the women involved in the case against the R&B superstar has come forward to reveal her identity. Her name is Quantasia Sharpton and she is a fat Black woman.Quantasia’s public appearance and acknowledgement of Usher’s alleged abuse defies social expectations for a fit and famous man – the collective assumption that any sexual partner of his would be a thin woman. It is simply unfathomable, to many, that Usher would ever find her fatness attractive.Lil Duval, the human trash pile at the center of the recent Breakfast Club Boycott due to his “jokes” about murdering trans women, posted tweets expressing his sheer disbelief. [embed]https://twitter.com/lilduval/status/894565778640564226[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/lilduval/status/894573878416113664[/embed] He is not alone in his sentiments and his fans joined in on the fatphobic rampage against Quantasia. Far too many people see fat bodies being desired as an impossibility, and see fat people as wholly unworthy of physical intimacy. These people are wrong. Fat women fuck. A lot. We have just as much capacity to be sexual beings as thin women do. Fat women can and do experience passion and romance – one-night stands and forevers and everything in between. Tender, raunchy, sensual, acrobatic. We are not strangers to these intimacies, and to deny us this possibility is to deny us our humanity. Amid conversations about desirability politics and fatness, it is important to keep fat humanity at the forefront, because the dehumanization of fatness and fat people is at the forefront of fatphobia. This is demonstrated in Lil Duval referring to Quantasia as “this” in his tweet – as if she were an inanimate object, rather than living, sentient, and human.But her worth and humanity are not determined by her sexual or erotic capital. Desirability should not be a prerequisite for the humanity of fat people, and I will not use evidence of men desiring her body type as the central argument against the misogyny-laced fatphobia that she and all fat women continue to experience. Whether or not people find us attractive, we deserve the right to exist free from the oppression of fatphobia.
Low self-esteem is just a feeling. It has absolutely nothing to do with the reality of who you are and what you are capable of.
Loving yourself and your body unconditionally is hard work and a continual process. Some days you