BIG, BLACK & BEAUTIFUL

BIG, BLACK & BEAUTIFUL

As I interviewed one Big Black Beautiful Woman after another for the purpose of collecting data regarding how plus-size women feel about their bodies and how they’re represented in fashion, I began to realize that the context for this interview did not fit their demographic. These women had nothing to hide. Nothing but thick thighs and a head held high.

Society teaches us that if you do not fit into the ‘box’, whatever that may be, that you should be overwhelmed by guilt, embarrassment, and shame. But these women had a confidence about them that I had never known.

“In our community, our bodies are cherished”

“We have nothing to hide, so why does fashion want us to cover up so badly?”

Growing up in a predominantly White, middle-class town where most of the girls around me looked like Taylor Swift and idolized her just as much, every inch of me didn’t fit in. I forced it, to try to look like some of these girls. To count my calories carefully, to bleach my hair regularly, and to laugh oh-so-delicately. Not to take up too much space, because that would remind folks that the space wasn’t meant for me.

But that’s just the thing, the space wasn’t meant for me. When we find ourselves in spaces that we just don’t quite fit in, we often internalize it. We tend to blame ourselves rather than the space.

These women loved taking up space, because it reminds them that every inch of them is real, take them as you will.

We are taught to loathe our bodies before we are ever taught to love them, we are taught that the body must fit the clothes, the body must fit society’s standards, no matter how unrealistic, no matter how disproportionate, no matter how discriminatory.

What is challenging about being a part of multiple marginalized groups at the same time is the delicate balance of each margin. Being plus-size is one thing, being Black in another thing, and being a woman is an additional thing. So being a plus-size Black woman, in a society that profits off of your assets, while simultaneously shaming you for them, is its own kind of beast.

So whom do we appeal to? The elitist White men making clothes for the 2% of women in the United States? Or this culture that praises our curves and our thickness in all its glory? Hint: trick question.

We do not have to appeal to anyone but our damn selves. Because at the end of the day that is all that is tangible.

I get this is much easier screamed from the rooftops than it is to internalize, but if anything realize that if you don’t fit the space, maybe the space wasn’t made for you. And that is just fine.

 

with love, for all my BBB girls

-Dominique Dajeé

 

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