Loving my body as a radical act: A reflection of belonging

Jul 21, 2020
Written by
Nkem
Photographed by
Nkem
"she wore ill-fitting clothes to hide her substantial womanliness
Bummi never understood why English women did not show off the outline of their fulsomeness, the more fulsome the better, so long as it was done with decorum
in her culture a substantial woman was a desirable one" - Bernadine Evaristo; Girl, Woman, Other


Like Bummi, I feel, nowadays, that the more fulsome - or shapely - a woman is, the better. Unlike Bummi, though, I understand why women are inclined not to celebrate their shapeliness in some societies more than others. Bummi's Nigerian culture could liken fuller breasts, stomach and hips to a healthy woman ready to bear fruit, so to speak. Though I'm a woman of Nigerian origin, I grew up in America in towns with a population of black people less than 1%. That's over 90% of my ostensible understanding of beauty, sex appeal, and social acceptance being attributed to the white appearance; being scrutinized by the white gaze.

I've been 6'1" since I was 13 years old with the accompanying fulsomeness attached to my thighs, waist, and butt. It wasn't until more recently that I started to remember that my spirit and soul are not attached to my body; that the quality of my essence is not tethered to the stories I gripped relegating my height to masculine and my waist circumference to inadequate. When I press play on my dancehall or afrobeats mix and that soft, strong, and flexible waist winds, it's as though my blackness, my Africanness, is unearthing itself. When my long, thick legs twist and jump in magical rhythmic succession, I am reminded that what my body represents transcends the low vibrational frequency of the social plague of young, white, healthy perfectionism. My body is glorious by virtue of being. That is a celebration in itself.


~ Nkem [ @naturallyfree123 ]

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