Laurie Toby Edison

Photographer

Enjoying Our Bodies

Mocha Momma, who will be speaking at BlogHer on the panel Laurie is moderating, says:

I have this theory. Don’t we all?

My theory revolves around my body and the relationship I’ve had with it my entire life. My nails grow fast and that was a wonderful thing until I realized that everyone wanted a back scratch from me. My hair, on the other hand, grows slowly and when I’ve gotten a bad haircut it’s a painfully long waiting period until I like it again. Even then, I have a love/hate relationship with it. It’s high time I gave up the ghost, though, because when it comes right down to it I haven’t liked my hair because I bought into society’s view of beautiful hair: long and straight.

That’s a whole other issue unto itself and I have not the time to delve into it right now.

Theories are funny things. They exist for us so long as they aren’t debunked. After that they become “something which we once believed” but can no longer prove.

I say all this to set the stage for an issue for women of color: we do, for the most part, completely enjoy our bodies and all the curves and softness that comes with it even until the point of annoying our fairer sisters on the feminist front.

We have asses that are round and cushiony and we like it.

Our hips are wide and sway side to side and we work that shit like there’s no tomorrow.

Lips are ours and belong to our culture as normal and a part of who we are and how we chew our food and kiss our loved ones.

We make no excuses for these things. In fact, when women are marking off the laundry list of what they dislike about themselves I am, secretly sometimes, feeling sassier and happier inside because I’ve learned to like my body. Really like it.

Not every pair of pants hides my childbearing gut. And not every dress accentuates my breastfeeding mammaries (albeit ones who, in their heyday, saluted every person I passed). It’s not that my body is different from so many other women. It’s that I accept it and hope to honor it.

How do women get to this place?

That would be too tedious a recitation and one that requires more space here than I have to address it. It’s easier to say what I have not done to get here.

I haven’t had a so-called “beauty” magazine enter my home since I was a teenager. I don’t need their definitions of magnificence to try to convince me to be unhappy with myself and deny my body those potato chips.

2 Responses to “Enjoying Our Bodies”

  1. LilahCello Says:

    I love this! Thank you for writing it. One thing that doesn’t surprise me is this quote: “…even until the point of annoying our fairer sisters on the feminist front.” I wonder if it isn’t more about the thinner folk than the fairer folk, in some ways. I am about as white as they come, and definitely in the quite-fat camp. I find the same thing amongst the thin feminists I know. Fat is still okay to make fun of openly. Many, many feminists I know are still living in that world of dieting and looking “just-so.” I don’t mean to invalidate your point, because I think that it is valid. Women of color AND they like their bodies? Scandal! They are soooo oversexed and uninformed about their health, ad nauseum. This is something that many, many people believe.

    I, for one, never tire of seeing people truly enjoying their bodies and being proud of them! There are few things more beautiful than someone who is confident and who loves herself, especially in this society that is white/educated/straight/wealthy/etc normative.

  2. Ann Says:

    “I say all this to set the stage for an issue for women of color: we do, for the most part, completely enjoy our bodies and all the curves and softness that comes with it even until the point of annoying our fairer sisters on the feminist front.”

    I don’t think it’s necessarily annoyance, so much as it’s envy. As a rounder white girl (and self-proclaimed feminist), I see curvy black women in the media, and I think to myself, “Damn, those girls look sexy and confident. I wish I could be like that.” To me, they’re inspiring! They don’t seem hyper-concerned about dieting, getting to aerobics class, or anything like that (yet they simultaneously seem healthy and active). I think if that’s annoying, it’s because it’s harder (at least in my experience) to find white women who carry their bodies with the same love, appreciation, and grace.

    I worked at a jewerly store in a mall where so many big black women would come in wearing these beautiful, bold colors and buy equally as colorful jewelry. They usually came with friends or family, and they were always laughing and having a good time. Less frequently did white women come in with the same power and presence…though I will give credit to the ones who did; they were super fab!

    I also notice that black women don’t typically coo to one another, “Hey, did you lose weight? You look great!” They eat and laugh together without analyzing how much dressing one girl puts on her salad. They seem to lift one another up in positive ways (though I’m sure there are exceptions).

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, us insecure white girls could probably use some body-loving tips from our black sisters. :)

    PS I LOVE the way you describe your hips! XD

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