Please, don’t comment on my weight.

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I saw this meme a few weeks ago on a friends timeline and it shook me to the core.

I battle with insecurities about my weight everyday. I do not have a diagnosed eating disorder, but if I am honest, I have to acknowledge that I am more conscious of my body weight than I am of my gender or my race (yet, I know that these things are inseparable in terms of how I internalize and resist them).

Getting dressed each morning is either affirmation of my body operating within the idealized boundaries I have for it or confirmation that I unable to control my undesirable mound of flesh called my body. Either way, it’s a win or lose game. I go to sleep thinking about how my body is healing or hurting and I usually awake dreading presenting my inadequate body to others.

Despite this, randomly I have a ton of appreciation for my body and its marks, curves and disproportions and I have impromptu nude photo shoots alone in my bedroom. I send photos to my best friends, because in case you missed it, that’s what best friends are for.

What I do know, is that because this is such a struggle for me personally, I do not EVER like any comments from anyone about my body. For example, a friend the other day, assuming she was giving me a compliment (I think?) mentioned that I was “looking thick”. After a full week of working out and monitoring my diet and water in take, this comment hit me like a ton of bricks. Psychologically, I was checked out for the rest of the day.

I don’t like when any elders in my family mention anything about my weight. I see my body in all the mirrors in their homes (What is it with Black people and their mirrors anyway?) and I become disgusted with myself. At times, this disgust drives me to tears.

I wish I could pinpoint where these feelings come from. I don’t have pictures of Sarena Williams or Teyana Taylor plastered in my room. I don’t even have a perfect body that I dream of. All I know is that I am never quite satisfied with mine.

The cognitive dissonance comes into play when I have an internal battle in my mind about creating the self-discipline to work out and burn 1000 calories a day or to be “body-positive” and accepting of my body as it is and work out for a healthier me. I seriously, have yet to figure out, how to negotiate such a space.

It’s not that I want to be skinny. I have big boobies and fat thighs that I actually like. I sometimes look at pictures of thicker women and wish for their bountiful hips and full derriere.

And if you are wondering, all the guys that have shown sincere romantic interest in me have been nothing but loving, kind and appreciative of my body. So it ain’t about them, either.

As a Black woman, loving myself is a radical political act. My consicousness of this fact makes the work to engage my self-esteem on this issue not just important but critical to my leadership and activism.

Everyday I struggle, but I am working on it.

 

 

Remember Your Breath: A Woman’s Legacy in Dignity-Work

 

Inhale. Exhale.

Take a moment to focus on your breath.

Inhale. Exhale.

How did it did it feel to take a moment to focus on your breath? How come we don’t take the time to do that regularly in our busy day-to-day lives? For some reason, we know the benefits of doing “breath-work” but we don’t take the time to notice or appreciate our breath. Our breath only gets our attention when it is threatened or interrupted. We pay attention when we run, when we have asthma attacks and when we do not have the air that we need. Through the last year and a half of research I realized that our dignity-work is a lot like our breath-work: necessary and beneficial, but rarely done unless we feel threatened. Dignity is our sense of self-worth in the midst of the worthiness of others. It is a vital sense-of-self that we often take for granted unless it is threatened; just like our breath.

As a Black woman engaging intellectual warfare on behalf of Black students, particularly Black males, I hold a special sense of responsibility. I stand on the shoulders of ancestors who have fought to maintain the dignity of Black people in all areas of social and political life, such as Kwame Ture, Malcolm X and Huey P. Newton. I also stand on the shoulders of women who have deepened the struggle for Black lives by addressing the intersectional nature of racial oppression. Being gender conscious is not a detriment to the movement; it is a vital asset.

Black women historically have been critical to movements addressing the livelihood of Black men. From Auset’s craftsmanship of her husband Ausar in ancient Kemet to the campaign against lynching waged by Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Black women have led the charge for avenging on behalf of their male counterparts. Our contemporary issues are no different. As #BlackLivesMatter becomes a rallying call across the globe, Black women remain at the forefront for addressing the social, economic and political oppression of Black men. I research developing evaluation capacity for organizations working to promote racial equity. My focus on Black males is not accidental. It is not a timely coincidence of interest convergence. I stand on the shoulders of giants who have constantly reminded our people of their breath-work. I am a part of a legacy. I am responsible for reminding all of my brothers and sisters how important it is to focus on our dignity.

 

Writers’ Block

Every time I sit down to write a blog post, I stare blankly at the computer screen. For some reason, writing for public consumption in this format is difficult for me. Now, let it be a Facebook post and I will IN for the READ of a lifetime in 60 seconds or less. Terrible. I am working to be better at writing though.

I am reminded of W.E.B. DuBois. I do not know who told me this information, but I “know” that he was a prolific writer because he sat down to write every single day.

I am working on it.

Instead of waiting for the new year to jump start the practice, I am taking the approach that “what better time than now” to start doing what you always said you were going to do. I know people want me to write, expect me to write, think that I do write, but all I really have is a bunch of jumbled thoughts from hours of internet-gazing on social media. I am lucky. My social media feed is full of conscious, engaged and socially relevant posts that keep me abreast of local, national and global news with little droplets of entertainment such as this gem.

I am going to make an effort to post regularly. Build a web presence. Engage and record.

Peace.