Last night one of my friends, who is African American, experienced racism directed toward him (I’ll have more about that in a future post).
In my Facebook post I ranted about discrimination in general, and then I detailed the discrimination I had experienced because of my size. One person I was in a relationship with wasn’t always kind, but I know he did want me to be healthy. However, many of the words directed toward me were not empowering but DISempowering. My self esteem had plummeted. It was a vicious cycle: feel bad about myself, don’t receive validation or emotional support, medicate by eating, feel bad about myself…and on and on.
I looked for validation, acceptance, empowerment from a significant other, but I didn’t realize that I needed to give that to MYSELF. I hated the way I looked, I shriveled up inside. I became weak, dependent, and destroyed all barriers that would have protected my self worth. I accepted actions and words that tore me down; I allowed it because any attention was better than no attention.
I became a prisoner. It got to the point where I was nervous walking out the door. Of course, I had to, but it was difficult. I could only see myself through someone else’s eyes, and that someone didn’t see me for the goddess I was/am, the strong woman that I am. That person was a dirty mirror; my reflection was distorted and unreal.
I recall a day when I went to the grocery store. It was very warm, so I wore a pair of long’ish shorts, a nice blouse, and sandals. I got out of the car, walked through the parking lot, and headed to the front door.
I was a bit thinner than I am now, but still thick and curvy. I looked fine for being out in public (of course, it’s my body, my life, no one should dictate what I can wear or not wear, EVER). A man watched me walk to the door, rolled his eyes at me, shook his head, said, “JESUS CHRIST!” then glared at me as I walked through the entry. He acted like I had no business showing my legs! Needless to say, I was shattered.
And then another incident:
Years ago I was to meet a man in Seattle. It was a networking meeting over coffee after I had dropped my daughter off to meet with her grandmother. I was wearing black slacks, casual shoes, a white blouse and a sweater; my hair was done nicely and I was wearing a little makeup. I walked into the establishment. Now, I had talked with the guy on social media and via email, and I knew what he looked like. I had also spoken with him on the phone. He was situated in a spot where he could see me walk in the door, and after I entered, it took a moment for me to see him. I walked up to him, held out my hand, spoke his name, and smiled…he gave me a once-over, head to toe and back up again, shook his head, shuttered his eyes, turned his back to me and ignored me. Ok, so, maybe his intentions were less than genuine and I didn’t know it. It took me a moment to recover as I stood there and looked at him. The more I looked, the tenser he became. I held my head up, proudly walked out, got into my car, drove around the block, stopped at a gas station parking lot, and burst into tears.
As humans, we all want to be loved, to be valued, to be cherished. We want to be supported, empowered, and want to hold our heads high. As a heavy, curvy woman, it took decades to accept myself. I had to remember that this is MY journey, and every step, every connection, every pound, every opportunity for personal evolution is perfection, no matter what any other person on this planet has to say about it.
The media has had a huge hand in our perception of beauty, and for the most part it has been an ugly hand. For a long time beauty has been defined only as thin, tall, toned, waifish, and even skeletal. Thick, curvy women were ignored, or even ostracized. Yes, it goes on daily.
Now, we all have our preferences, and that is perfectly fine. However, the time is now to get past the single definition of beauty and embrace our wholeness. It’s time to love every pound, every curve, every roll, every dimple, every wrinkle, every stretch mark, EVERY delicious part. We can stand strong in the knowledge that we are perfection. We are all brilliant beings with a purpose and design, and it is a very selfish act to hide ourselves behind a curtain.
Soon after I posted my discrimination rant, I saw that Khari had put up a link for his new book, “Curvy and Confident: Inspiring Women to Love Themselves.”
I’ve been a fan of Khari’s for a while, and yes, even spent a few lonely nights curled up in a ball, in tears, listening to his beautiful music, wishing that I had someone to say those things to me, and MEAN it. So I can tell you with utter honesty, when I saw this book link my first thought was, “FINALLY.” He has been instrumental in lifting women up and allowing them to give themselves permission to be confident, to be free, and to love themselves no matter what, and to know that they are appreciated more than they can imagine.
It’s a beautiful thing when an admirer, partner, friend, or lover appreciates the entire package…body, mind, and soul. For those who have experienced discrimination because of size, let me tell you this: Those who can’t appreciate the ALL-NESS of you are missing out on something wonderful. It’s ok, let them stay in their small, little world. There are others who are waiting to embrace your luscious curves, who are wanting to experience your strength, confidence, and your brilliant self. Don’t believe what you see when you look into the dirty mirrors; see your reflection in those who have wiped away judgment and who love you for YOU.