I was in seventh grade when a boy in my class me told that I had a "stripper body" for the first time.
That alone instilled in me a slight sense of insecurity about the way I looked. All the other kids laughed, and I was ostracized for it. Back then, I looked up to entertainers like Aaliyah, Ciara, Alicia Keys, and Beyoncé. Then, representation for thicker girls was far and few between, with the exception of Miss Jill Scott and Ashanti. Still, growing up with womanly features was not something that was celebrated or met with flattery.
From my experience, there were always prejudices attached to young women with full figures.
I've had boys lie and say they had sex with me as early as grade school. I can't say it changed much as I've gotten older. I've had guys lie on me in college and as recent as a year ago. (Note: I didn't say "men" because men don't lie about women they have or haven't slept with.) Because of the way I looked, the lies people told themselves and others were perceived as truths. My family was no exception.
Although my mom didn't give me the talk until she was certain, I know she had speculated long before I was "sexually active." And my dad, being a dad, made me buy baggy pants and oversized clothes that were nothing like what the other girls my age wore. Fast-forward, I'm in my mid-twenties and, most of the time, I'm still camouflaging my silhouette under the illusion of baggy clothes to keep from attracting the "wrong" attention.
As I'd gotten older I thought:
My body is something I should love unconditionally because it accentuates my beauty.
I should be able to dress in whatever way I want and how I please without having to consider the opinions of others. But I found that overcoming years of ridicule and self-consciousness was not that simple, and I could just as easily slip back into feeling self-conscious when paid one, single compliment about my figure.
I imagine those that tell me that I look good, and that I look like I went to Dr. Miami for my surgery, are doing so out of the kindness of their hearts. But it's not comforting. Popular opinion determined that being thicker is better. But years of being teased about my weight are not so easily forgotten. And years from now, when the body positive movement is a thing of the past, then what?
The body-positive movement is great, but I've had to focus more on being self-accepting as opposed to being societally accepted.
That means fully accepting myself regardless of your size, what's trending, and how others may view me. To overcome that self-consciousness that has been lingering for so many years, I had to learn self-ownership; that this body is my vehicle and I am always more than what meets the eye.
That means responding with compliments from others by paying it back.
That meant improving my self-talk and reminding myself that my self-acceptance is love.
And that love is unconditional.
Being mindful of this has led to a change in the interactions I have with those of the opposite sex.
I've learned that while I can't control what other people do or how they see me, I can control how I respond and how I view myself. Wearing that confidence has helped me recognize the difference in how men approach me and the "wrong" attention I get from the kind of guys my dad was so determined to protect me from. There's a huge difference in what boys do and what quality men do.
Quality men know that a woman who has it knows she's has it.
And by "it," I don't mean a certain body type or look but a sense of self-worth and undeniable confidence. A quality man will require more than a nice body and a beautiful face to hold his attention, complimenting you on other flattering attributes. He knows that stimulating conversation is far more appreciated than empty compliments.
Fully embracing who I am in my entirety, leaves little room for self-doubt and insecurity. And that was an important first step to loving me for me. While changing the way I viewed interactions and interest from men was significant in changing my perception of my beauty and my worth, I had to come to terms with the woman in the mirror.
I had to love the thickness of my thighs, appreciate the way they rub together, rarely a part, and perpetually in a state of meeting. I had to love the width of my hips and the way my booty jiggles in sync with the cadence of my walk. I had to love the parts of me the world celebrated so easily, but the parts of me I deemed hard to love. I reclaimed them as aspects of me that make me feminine, womanly, a Queen.
Some days I'm still insecure, but there's nothing as healing and reaffirming as the love I give to me. It's through that love and reclamation that I'm able to wield the sword of my true power.
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