As a 38 year old fat Black woman I've learned in overt and covert ways that my culture thinks I'm unintelligent, ugly, lazy, self-indulgent, criminal...you get the point. As someone who studies and teaches classes about the origins of these messages, their insidious effects, and the efforts of Black women to replace these narratives with creative and loving ones of their own making, I know that the systems that manufacture these messages reward everyone for distancing themselves from me and my "wrongness" (to take it back to June Jordan!) As someone who writes and thinks about fitness with folks like me in mind, I suck my teeth. It frustrates me when we don't discuss the effects of inequality within the fitness or body positivity world, and here's why.
When I talk about the importance of body love, I mean it in the most political ways possible. It's not just rubbing my belly and sending it love. For me, it's learning America's history of commodifying flesh, fetishizing women of color, and resisting attempts to support reproductive freedom. I see that the shame I feel around my body has been manufactured. It's constantly evolving and being taught to me. While I work to offer new messages, I also have to look deep into myself and interrogate these messages' effects on the relationship I have with my and other people's bodies. This is what a Black feminist fitness practice means to me.
Thought For Today: Am I talking to my body in the same language that the oppressor uses to talk to and about me? If I'm telling myself that my thighs are too fat or I can't show my bare arms in public, who taught me that? How can I begin to extend to myself some understanding?
I love you and thanks for letting me be of service.