Saturday, January 22, 2011

Brickhouse Chronicles: Daydreaming The Fat and Queer Body Electric

Being a proud fat chick is important to me because being queer fabulous is important to me. Like many women, ever since I was a young girl, I always felt uncomfortable in my skin. Everywhere I turned (outside of the safety of my home), I was hit with the constant message that black was not beautiful and that not having a slender body was to be a source of shame and embarrassment. I developed a woman's body early and my wide hips, large breasts, and softly rounded tummy were constant sources of consternation for me because I wanted to be beautiful. I wanted to be graceful. I wanted to be loved.

I spent my high school years starving myself and exercising for three hours a day Monday through Friday, and binging on the weekend. I wanted so badly to be viewed as beautiful like the light-skinned black girls who seemed to find acceptance by society as creatures of beauty. In my mind, being thought of as beautiful meant that your life was so much easier. The thinner and lighter one was seemed to correspond with how nice people were to you. As I fell into the dangerous mind set that thinness and starvation equaled discipline, I just knew that once I got my appetite under control that the very un-Christian feelings that I was having about other women would go away. I lost a lot of weight and got lots of positive attention from friends and family for “finally taking care of myself” but the feelings of alienation from my body and sense of sexuality just wouldn’t go away.

Fast forward to my adulthood when I first came out of the closet….not much had changed. The only images of dyke women that were viewed as acceptable and sexually attractive that I saw when I first came out were those of thin, androgynous, white, and extremely athletic women. The starvation, exercise, and binge regimen that I had worked so hard to get rid of re-surfaced with a vengeance. I just couldn’t relate to all of the utopian stories that I kept hearing from various women about how once they came out of the closet, they found a sense of self acceptance not to mention a long line of lovers’ who were eager to get their hands on the abundant curves that these women possessed. My coming out experience was laced with encounters of fat-phobia and racism and I started to believe once again that love (or at least a good lay) was around the corner if I just lost these pesky hips, boobs, and my newly found sense of femme identity.

My saving grace came in the form of two things: 1) I started to go to the local Transgendered support group as a show of solidarity for my best friend 2) I found a book titled ‘Looking Queer’ which featured several essays from various individuals on the rainbow spectrum and their experiences with the realities of body image in the queer community. It was with the transgendered group that I learned to not only love the skin I was in, but the value of helping others in seeing their inner and outer beauty. It was with these incredible ladies that I learned that that things I had spent most of my life hating and hiding (hips, lips, and tummy oh my!) were things that the majority of them had to work hard for through surgery, padding, and ovarian fortitude. Thanks to these goddesses, I was beginning to understand the concept of Femme Power. The book ‘Looking Queer’ was the first time that I had encountered stories about the difficult road to fat acceptance that I could relate to. I read the stories of people who were poor, fat, and of color and how they navigated the waters of lookism within the queer community and realized that I was not alone.

As I gradually developed a stronger sense pride in having a body that was lovingly meant to be fat and dark skinned (and got laid…it does wonders for my disposition!), I started to venture out and try and learn new things that had always tickled my queer fancy, such as exploring the various sex and queer positive communities that were at my disposal and learning to dance to all of the beautiful Middle Eastern and African music that had always moved my heart. But I could not have gotten this far without first beginning to accept, love, and pamper my body. So for me, being queer fabulous is truly connected with learning the art of being fat and fabulous.
This is something I wrote a few years back in dedication to my journey, and to the love that my wife gives me.
Hair and Hips: A Nappy Girl’s Manifesto
I love my hips the way I love my hair
They are full and fierce with thickly coiled and curved defiance
They are a reflection of the women in my line who came before me
Dark skinned, full-lipped and wide hipped
Dancing, working, loving and birthing under the skies of sun-parched lands
I love my hips the way I love my hair
How they have stood in direct challenge to my attempts at taming them
Starving, torturing, burning, and hiding them to dull the pain of imperfection
The "imperfection" of being too fat, too nappy-headed... too queer
I love my hips the way I love my hair
How they are soft and alluring to an experienced lover's touch
Writhing, desiring, and needing
The pulling, guiding, thrusting, and licking of a night's heated lovin'
I love my hips the way I love my hair
They are a reflection of my life's joy as I admire myself in the mirror
Dark skinned, full lipped, wide hipped
as I dance, work, and love under sun parched skies.

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