For the last few months, I’ve been bombarded with tons of articles, research, and personal encounters with the social issues of black women. I took all that information, and decided to use it to write a personal letter to black women. I’m hoping to encourage us as whole, and possibly change the way we perceive some of our issues.
I want to begin with why I named this article Love Thy Self. The second commandment is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. This is the simplest, yet most misunderstood commandment of them all. To love yourself as you love your neighbor is a simile. To do something like or as you do something means that those things should be the same, equal, or at least similar. To love thy neighbor as you love thy self means that the love you have for someone else and for yourself should be the same. Not less, not more- the same.
Commandment Three: Love Thy Body Image
I struggled with loving my body image all my life. I was always skinny. When I was a kid, I had long skinny legs, long skinny arms, and a round belly! I was always called skinny, boney, and “long legs” by my family. I felt like I didn’t fit in with them because they were bigger than me. I felt like there was something wrong with being slim.
Then I began my menstrual cycle early (at the age of 10), and that caused me to go through a growth spurt. My breast grew very large for my age, and boys at school made sure they told me they noticed. They made jokes about it, they grabbed me, and completely embarrassed me. Once again, I felt like there was something wrong with my body. I didn’t feel normal.
Now with my breast being so large, my butt was still small, and I heard a lot about that, too. I was called “no butt” and “flat butt” all the time. When I was in eighth grade, one boy that I had a crush on yelled out to me, “Your flat butt! Looks like a piece of board!”
Just recently over the last 3 or 4 years, I made peace with my body. And that’s only because my butt finally started to catch up with my breasts, and my belly no longer looks like a watermelon. But I still feel insecure sometimes. I notice that most black men talk about rounder hips, bigger booties, and thicker thighs. They never talk about long legs, flat butts, big boobs, and watermelon bellies. Sometimes I can’t help but to feel inferior to the women that have the “ideal” body in the black community.
Fortunately, most black women don’t have the kind of body I have, so they may have not been called “flat butt” before. But there are still many of us who have insecurities, rather it be not having enough this, or having too much that. Most women of America have some issues with their body.
Because this is so common, and so normal, it’s hard for me to tell you that you need to stop having a normal human function. Men also scrutinize their body at some point. It is very normal. But women seem to go overboard. Sometimes we call ourselves nasty names, and make ourselves feel bad about our bodies-and this is what needs to stop.
We constantly compare our bodies to other women all the time, and all it does is make us feel worse about ourselves. But you know, even the women with the “perfect” body have something on her body that she doesn’t like either. It’s completely normal! What’s not normal is to hate and resent yourself for not being perfect.
Today, the same body parts that I felt bad about are the things that I love. I love my legs, I love my breasts, I won’t go as far as saying I love my butt and my waist, but I like it. And you know what’s cool? Other people like it, too. When we exude confidence in our image, people take notice, and they also start to appreciate your image as well.
You have to embrace yourself and “fake it until you make it”. Pretend to like your butt even if you don’t! Wear jeans that make you look sexy, or other body enhancing clothes. It took me years of playing with clothes, hair, and makeup before I finally embraced my image and took pride in making myself look good-not for everyone else, but for ME. And I still enjoy every minute of it.The next three Love Thy Self “commandments” will be for teenage girls of all races and backgrounds.
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