I still remember the conversation, in the coat room of a restaurant for my eighth birthday where my parents tried to explain to me that I had done nothing wrong and why I needed to tell them when an adult acted in a way that made me uncomfortable. They also reiterated that while respecting adults is important that, my body belonged to me and that no one should yell at me, bully or ever touch me without my permission.
The other day, I got fat-shamed. When you get fat-shamed often, like every time you turn on a television, it takes a lot to make an impact. My husband, Chris, and I went to our city’s second annual Afro-Centric Pregnancy Fair in Portland, Oregon. I had high hopes of being in a supportive environment of people who care about the unique challenges facing black women as they enter pregnancy, childbirth, and childbearing. I fantasized about talking with midwives, doulas, and new mothers about their amazing experiences and horror stories of hospitals, birth centers, and their living rooms. Instead, I got a major dressing down by a black doctor manning an information table for a clinic.
My daughter’s aunt and I have different values — how do I teach my daughter the difference without being rude?
My sister-in-law is planning to undergo elective plastic surgery after her second child is born. I love and support her in whatever she chooses to do but we have different values in regards to this topic. How do I explain that to my little girl in a way that can be used as a teaching moment and not offend someone we love so dearly?
I was astonished by this transformation into my ideal body. I felt lighter on my feet and more comfortable in my skin. In one year, I had gained 50 pounds, and then lost 65. I had gone from a size 6 to a maternity Large, then back down to a size 4. I went from a bra size A to B and then C. I felt like a real woman, feminine in a way that finally matched how I had always felt on the inside.
There are a lot of people like me. Women who know things. Women who have seen things. Women with diseases in their livers. There are a lot of women with scars on their arms and words that carry themselves like sparrows. There are women who were too big for this town, who had their backs bent carrying things like religion and a history that originated somewhere in the crook of a branch that extended over a stream. All of you women with lines on your brow, with cracks between your fingers… it’s been a long winter. All of you, you are beautiful and so am I.
As people, we get one body, and, as a feminist, it is damn important to me to claim total ownership of mine. The best thing that I can ever do for my children is to give them autonomy over themselves. I want my daughter especially — who came into a world that legally accepts her body has her own but sends messages all the time that reject that truth — to fill out her skin with a personal spirit that is impermeable.
I have always been a nudie booty in my own home. I would come home from work or class and just shed my clothes. It’s not so much that I dislike clothes; I actually love them quite a bit. Not too long after the big gender reveal of our latest pregnancy, my husband came home and found me and our son playing in the bath tub together. He very calmly said “Don’t you think you should start covering up around him, he’s getting a little old for that.”
I have a bucket list. I keep it written in a little journal and I get it out and stare at it once in a while. Some of the items on there are big, lofty experiences that I hope to have one day. However, many of the things on that list are simple, personal experiences I want to achieve. This week, I got to cross one off the list: feeling comfortable in a bathing suit.