There isn’t much love for skinny girls in the black community. Trust me; I would know. I’m only 102 pounds, a size 2 in jeans, and an a-cup. I can’t count how many times I had to try and hold my head up as other girls in school laughed at my body. Or how many male eyes slid past me as the owner looked for the next girl worthy of his attention. And, honestly, I don’t think I want to try.
Simply put, black culture is saturated by a love for “thickness.”
Shantel Santiago, 19, of Rochester, remembers being told she had “a white girl butt,” a common insult hurled at thin girls.
“I was embarrassed at first,” she said, about the size of her butt. She later came to terms with it when she began “seeing obese people with very large butts” and didn’t want hers to be like that. Although Santiago has grown to like her body more, she said that on a scale 1-10, she only likes it about 5.
“I’d like some bigger boobs,” she said.
Bigger boobs, wider hips, and a butt with its own climate. This is what we want our women to look like. We tried everything from cheap and illegal butt injections that caused countless women to lose limbs and face other health issues to ridiculously unhealthy eating that caused 80% of middle-aged women to be overweight and 25% to have diabetes.
Yet, these standards persist. Splashed across magazines, dancing in front of cars on videos, and sang about in our music. There is no reprieve. If young girls turn to the media to form their own standards and to understand the world around them, what are we teaching them? That they’re ugly. And there is nothing worse to young women than being ugly, especially in a society that places such emphasis on beauty.
To fight these standards, I turned to supermodels to learn to love myself. Ironic, I know. But Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, and Iman were being paid to be skinny. I began to learn about other cultures that prized my natural thinness, because it was nice to know that someone thought I was pretty. Finally, I worked to develop everything else about me. Eating and being extremely lazy didn’t give me the body I wanted, but books and writing could give me the brain I wanted.
On the same scale I gave to Santiago, I would rate my body a 9. Don’t get me wrong, I am still trying to gain weight. However, it’s not to be considered pretty by Lil Wayne, but so I can finally give blood. I still think curvy is beautiful, but I think there’s a little room in our beauty standards to squeeze skinny chicks in.
Just please don’t leave us out in the cold! We don’t have enough padding to keep ourselves warm.