The first time I really thought about body image was when I was 11 years old. My mom told me that I couldn’t walk around the house in a tank top without a bra on or skivvies without shorts on.
At the time, it was only me, my mother, and my brother living at home. But, my brother was still able to walk around the house without a shirt on.
It was very confusing to me because I’ve always been a curvy or ‘chunky’ girl. But, my mom was telling me to cover up my body because I was a developing young woman. However, my brother was also developing, yet he wasn’t told to cover his body.
That was the first conflict with my image because I didn’t notice anything changing but my mother did. It was off-putting.
Another instance that I had in terms of body image growing up was when I hit puberty. I started to gain more weight. I used to watch That’s So Raven and Lizzie McGuire and I used to think that I would slim down once I got to high school.
I saw that every girl in high school was ‘scrawny’ and didn’t really have ‘boobs’, meanwhile I already had ‘boobs’ when I was in the third grade. It was confusing to me because I really believed that I would have that slim body type, and I gave myself a certain amount of time to achieve that. But, I realized that I didn’t look like any of the representation I saw on TV and I didn’t look like any of my family members, I’ve always been curvy.
The media doesn’t show women who look like me. It took me a long time to realize that. They showed ‘token people’ who looked like me, but never anyone that I could really identify with until I saw Danielle Brooks from Orange Is The New Black, who is now a Lane Bryant model.
I’m 21 years old and that was the first person that I saw who actually looked like me! When the media features Black women, they usually have an exaggerated and accentuated hourglass body.
I am a curvy woman but I also have a stomach, thighs and a little extra meat to me. So where were the women who looked like me?
If you are struggling to embrace your body, my advice to you is that you only get one body, love it as is. If you can’t love it as is, change what you can.
My mom taught me that because she was self-conscious about her weight, but she realized how destructive that could be especially raising me to be a woman. In this day and age, everyone is trying to get botox, lip injections, and other plastic surgeries. But the reality is, if you’re not happy with who you are, you’re never going to be happy no matter how much you change your body.