Tschabalala Self challenges viewers to see these bodies as vessels of exciting difference and much more than caricatures. By Tyra A. Seals By using fabric, thread, and collage techniques to circumvent traditional definitions of artistic media, Tschabalala Self’s large scale paintings and
I could understand that we share an illness that makes us fear food and desire thinness, but the realities of a fat girl with an eating disorder and a thin girl with an eating disorder are so far apart, it’s
“People are so enamored with white mediocrity they think I should be grateful to sit at a table I'm probably overqualified to be at.” - JerVaeBy Hess Love Everything that we know about “obesity” is an indictment on white supremacy, and everything about who we listen to regarding it is bullshit. The centering of whiteness, especially white women, in the “Body Positivity Movement” recently led Rebel Wilson to tell an egregious lie about being the first fat woman to star in a romantic comedy and then block every Black person who tried to tell her the truth, that plus-sized Black women have starred in romantic comedies before. Women like Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique. But Rebel doubled down. Fat White Women like Rebel Wilson don't see Fat Black Women as forces of body positivity or plus-size representation because they view Blackness in itself as "large". Blackness is already big, vast, and something they want to confine, so they make it both a boogie man and a invisibility cloak. They see Blackness as being beastlike, so to be large and Black isn't defying expectations. In an odd way, it makes our fatness nonconsequential to them, because for them, their bodies defy the dainty expectations of a white, Western femininity. To them, that is braver than being fat and Black. Welcome to the politics of "taking up space." That's why they call the cops on small Black children and clutch their purses when they see even small framed Black men. That's why they won't acknowledge when large Black women already did something they're calling themselves brave and pioneering for just now doing. They take space from us to make room for themselves. Our bravery doesn't count. It can't count when even the smallest parts of us are a threat. There's a “historical view of Black Women as bodies without minds that underlies their invisibility” (Thompson, A Hunger So Wide and Deep, 15). Black women are painted as simultaneously enormous and non existent, our vastness is an enigma that is demonized through purposeful misperception that aims to project the thought that we lack a certain level of conscious deliberacy to understand and liberate the space our existence takes up. Black as big, as beast, as fat, is seen as a default experience for us. In the minds eye of white women like Rebel Wilson, that “default” lacks validity on the rubric of bravery. Fat Black women are tired of our bodies and experiences paving roads and painting it with blood just for white women like Rebel Wilson to trapeze down the pathway and ask if the stories she walks over “really” count. They do. Fat Black Women are the original recipients of “fat bitch” retorts when we dare exercise our right to choose and our right to exist. Whether it was fighting off slave owning forefathers, white men that would later be called medical pioneers for infringing on our largeness and reproductive organs, white women that gawked at our physiques while their accompanying men dreamed of other ways to violate us. Fatphobia is indelibly tied to anti-Blackness. Fat Black women are assigned roles where other people bring “purpose” to us to determine our usefulness, never an autonomous validity. The mammy archetype which bleeds over to freudian sexual fetishism around fat Black femme bodies is another agent that makes our presence on a socio-political front more amenable for erasure and labor. Perhaps this image of impressionability is a result of how fat Black women have had to attempt to diminish themselves in order to navigate certain social and systemic scenes. “The one thing that I do recognize in myself is the need to soften myself for white comfort. I am a fat dark black woman and to some white people that in itself is threatening. So I make sure I'm friendly as to not make them uncomfortable, because when white people are uneasy we pay for it in blood. On the flip side of that I'm seen as a mammy to some white people. Someone they can cast their cares on and be overly comfortable with because I only exist to pacify their fragile feelings and labor them on my back all the way to the promise land.” Brandi Wharton, founder of Magical Fat Black Femmes.