I was always content with the shape of my body. I never really had major weight issues either. I inherited my small bone structure and my small frame from my mom. I guess you can say I have those good Caribbean genes. I have long arms, long legs, and a short torso. But I also carry my weight well. So, when I gain or lose weight, the distribution of weight is evenly proportioned. At 36, I'm fully grown. I stand 5'4", a DD+, and I don't know where all this ass came from. Now I have a butt I never used to have.
I can't complain. I'm hella thick for my height and frame. But this wasn't always the case. I mean, I was always just skinny. I have always had full breasts, but I also have small, straight, narrow hips. Like, there is no curve to my hips at all.
I used to jokingly say I inherited my Indian side of the family. In my 20s, I was obsessed with wanting perfectly round hips. No matter how many squats, hip adductors, or side leg raises I did, I couldn't achieve what I saw on reality TV or social media.
Slim waist and perfectly curved hips—I wanted that. But it wasn't until recently that I realized this could never be. It's not scientifically possible. Why? Because of the way my hip bones are structured. Skinny or thick, I've accepted that I'm always going to have hip dips.
I can't change my bone structure or how my hips look unless I opt for plastic surgery or Photoshop the hell out of my photos. But none of that is realistic to me, and I do not want to portray an image that doesn't align with what I believe in. However, this is what we see on social media every day.
Our social media feeds are flooded with edited and enhanced faces and bodies.
Self-Image and Social Media
There is no question that social media affects our self-image. Women continuously hurt their body images by constant comparison, Photoshop, filters, and browsing through hashtags like "fitspo." It's like our brain doesn't realize we're comparing ourselves to images that are not 100 percent real. This behavior ultimately leads to disappointment by creating unrealistic ideals for ourselves.
I think this Time magazine article said it best: "If the Internet has been called a great democratizer, perhaps what social media has done is let anyone enter the beauty pageant." The same article points out that when we edit photos to attract positive attention, we create a false sense of control. This leads to a disconnect between perception and reality. We might feel one way about ourselves in real life and feel another about our online persona.
We set ourselves up in trying to achieve these expectations and then stress ourselves out when we cannot meet them.
Does anyone see how unhealthy this is? Because I do. There isn't supposed to be a disconnect between who we are in real life and online.
What The Studies Show
According to an article byInsider, research shows the more time we spend on social media, the worse we feel about our bodies. In 2018, one study found a correlation between time spent on social media, negative body image, and eating disorders. And a stronger correlation was found if the participant was scrolling through appearance-related content.
In a study conducted by a health institution, the Florida House Experience, 87 percent of women compare their bodies to images on social and traditional media.
In the same study, 50 percent of women considered their bodies unfavorable. Social media can also affect pre-existing mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. So, if you already struggle with self-image and body dissatisfaction, social media can trigger or exacerbate these issues.
Forbesinterviewed Jennifer Henry, a counselor at Maryville University, who stated:
"Increasing awareness of how we look and specifically, how to obtain the 'best' angle, pose, lighting, filter for social media. It's not unusual to see really young girls posing for pictures doing the 'skinny arm' pose or the 'duck face,' instead of just goofing around and having fun. We are missing out on actual experiences by focusing on how to get the best picture of it for our social media pages."
Where is the lie?
I'll admit it. Like many other women, I let social media get the best of me by comparing my body to altered photos of models, celebrities, and the bodies of fitness influencers. I know the feelings associated with this all too well. Frustration, stress, and self-doubt. I too was obsessed with the notion of "If I did this or that, I could achieve this body type," damn well knowing social media standards are not realistic by any means. This is partly why I'm on social media break now. I got tired of paying attention to other people's bodies and lives when I should be embracing my own body and pouring into my own life. And now, I'm just focused on loving my natural self and making healthy improvements where I can.
When it comes to learning to embrace your natural self, social media—more so Instagram—is not a standard you want to compare yourself to.
Compare yourself to the person you are today, yesterday, and the day before that. She is who you are trying to impress.
Your standard of beauty lies within yourself.
Featured image via Getty Images
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Camille is a lover of all things skin, curls, music, justice, and wanderlust; oceans and islands are her thing. Her words inspire and her power is her voice. A California native with Trinidadian roots, she has penned personal essays, interviews, and lifestyle pieces for POPSUGAR, FEMI magazine, and SelfishBabe. Camille is currently creating a life she loves through words, self-love, fitness, travel, and empowerment. You can follow her on Instagram @cam_just_living or @written_by_cam.
In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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'Act II': Beyoncé's Country Era Is Paying Homage To Black Artists & Daring Us To Exist In Any Space We Choose
Super Bowl Sunday Queen Bey struck again, snatching all our edges and keeping us in the same chokehold we’ve been in for the past couple of decades. After her Verizon commercial, where she alluded to her power to break the internet, Beyoncé essentially broke the internet with her announcement that Renaissance Act II would be released on March 29, 2024. The final drop in this marketing masterpiece was the release of two new singles, “16 CARRIAGES” and “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM,” which have both soared to number one and two in the iTunes country music category.
However, despite the pure excitement by the BeyHive to follow Beyoncé wherever she leads them, there has already been pushback in the country music arena to deny the Queen access. Oklahoma station KYKC 100.1 FM denied a listener's request to hear Beyoncé’s new songs on its station because “We do not play Beyoncé' [sic] as we are a country music station," it responded via email.
This isn’t the first time Beyoncé has been dismissed in the genre. In 2016, when she released "Daddy’s Lessons" on Lemonade, she not only was met with backlash from country music fans but was also denied by the Recording Academy’s Country Committee after she submitted the record for a Grammy.
Beyoncé (2nd R) performs onstage with Emily Robison, Natalie Maines, and Martie Maguire of Dixie Chicks at the 50th annual CMA Awards in 2016.
Rick Diamond/Getty Images
We saw a similar response to Lil Nas X’s "Old Town Road" in 2019 when the original single was removed from the Billboard Country charts because it didn’t “embrace enough elements of today’s country music.” Lil Nas X went on to win a Grammy with Billy Ray Cyrus for the song’s music video but was only accepted into the category after Cyrus joined for the remix.
Though the origins of the country music genre are an extension of Black culture and African ancestry, Black artists have been essentially erased from the genre's existence. Examples of this are the modern-day banjo – featured in many country songs – which is a descendant of the West African instrument, the Akonting. As with most things in American history, once white audiences were introduced to the banjo in a more “acceptable” manner through racist minstrel shows of the 1850s-1870s, it was quickly appropriated.
This unintentionally led to the creation of the 1920s Hillbilly music, which at the time was mainly popular in the South and later evolved into the country genre we know today. Hillbilly music drew its inspiration from slave spirituals, field songs, hymns, and the blues, which all originated within the Black community, and up until the end of World War I when major record labels rebranded it as country, the genre was successfully integrated.
In fact, in Patrick Huber’s 2013 essay, "Black Hillbillies: African American Musicians On Old-Time Records, 1924–1932," he details the vast diversity in the genre. In the time period chronicled, approximately 50 Black artists were featured on commercialized records within Hillbilly music. Huber’s essay was part of a larger work edited by Diane Pecknold, "Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music," which focused on the large contributions Black musicians had to the industry.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Despite the huge success Hillbilly music had, record labels couldn’t fully capitalize on it while remaining diverse because of segregation throughout America. In order to market the music and artists to “mainstream” America, music executives not only segregated the genre but promoted it as “white music” and as white southerners migrated throughout the country, they took with them the ideology that country music was solely theirs. This eventually led to the erasure of Black artists and their contributions to their artistry and history.
These artists include DeFord Bailey, who was the first Black musician to play the Grand Ole Opry, and Charley Pride, the first Black person to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Many of us know musical legend Ray Charles for his contribution to soul music, but it isn’t common knowledge that his ability to blend country, R&B, and pop music greatly influences country music to this day. Additionally, Gus Cannon made jug bands (an ancestor to country music) popular in the 1920s and taught Johnny Cash, who is a country music icon.
As we make efforts to honor and acknowledge the Black musicians who helped mold country music into what it is today, we must also acknowledge how the intersectionality of Black womanhood has practically left this demographic out of the country music fabric completely.
As Black women face both racism and sexism (a.k.a. misogynoir), their denial of entry has been easier to maintain in this genre. Linda Martell, the first Black female solo artist to play the Grand Ole Opry, released her debut album, Color Me Country, in 1970. Though still considered a pioneer to many, her career was short, and she faced relentless discrimination and violence within the industry that eventually led her to leave country music altogether. The documentary, Bad Case of The Country Blues: The Linda Martell Story, chronicles her experiences from 1969-1975.
Though there are many up-and-coming Black country music artists, Beyoncé's entrance into this arena creates a clear and imminent threat to the genre’s marketing strategy that it is “white music.” She might be one of the most unapologetically Black artist of our times, penning lyrics such as, “I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros” and “I like my negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils.”
Argue with me if you like, but for the past decade, Beyoncé has been uplifting and celebrating Black culture and history.
She has made it clear that she has no desire to assimilate herself or her music into mainstream white culture. She is proud of who she is and where she comes from, which is why her making a country music album is a natural progression. Beyoncé's roots are in Texas, she often talks about her love for her state and her upbringing, and just as we heard in Act I of Renaissancewith the inspirations pulled from Chicago house, funk, soul, gospel, and New Orleans Bounce music; we will be serenaded by another layer of her upbringing and soul in Act II.
Beyoncé’s Renaissance is her unabashed way of not only using her stardom to prove that Black people are not a monolith but also paying homage to the Black artists who paved the way for her but are seemingly erased from history.
She highlights the multifaceted nature of Black culture and ignites conversations that force the full history of these genres to be represented and told. As a Black woman who grew up in Alabama and isn’t ashamed to share her love for country music, I was thrilled to hear "Daddy Lessons" in 2016 and I can’t wait for Act II of Renaissance to come out on March 29.
Whether you’re a member of the BeyHive or not, I hope you can see how Beyoncé’s musical evolution is allowing space for Black people, and moreover, Black women, to exist in whatever space they choose to pursue without feeling the need to diminish, readjust, or mold themselves into what someone else says you should be.
Through her art, she is creating a space for us all to live and exist in our fullness, or in short to live in true liberation.
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