Last spring, I was shopping in a Lane Bryant when I found the most gorgeous royal blue, one-shoulder, Grecian gown. As soon as I slid the dress over my head, I immediately felt beautiful, sexy, and confident. As I walked out of my dressing room toward the three-way mirror to take in all my curvy glory, a younger woman emerged from the adjacent dressing room with the same dress, but her reaction wasn’t as jubilant as mine. I could tell she felt incredibly self-conscious and fearful about revealing so much skin. The sales associate and I immediately affirmed how beautiful she looked in the dress and how the navy blue color was a perfect compliment to her beautiful freckles and fire-red hair. I even stood beside her to show her that we were basically the same size and that it was more than OK for fuller gals like us to reveal a little skin. I left her in the dressing room to complete my purchases and told her that the dress would be a beautiful addition to her wardrobe.
My heart broke a few moments later as I saw her walking toward the exit without the dress. I stopped her and asked her what happened. She said that she texted a picture of herself in the dress to her mother, and her mother immediately called her back to inform her that a woman of her size should never wear a one-shoulder gown. I had no words left to say as I could tell that her mother’s criticism carried much more weight than a stranger’s affirmation.
Every time I relive that moment, I get angry for that beautiful young woman who didn’t know that she had permission to be beautiful. I become incensed every time I see a fuller figured woman diminish her body or attempt to hide her curves in an unnecessary apology to the world. I am beyond fed up with fat girls being ashamed of their bodies while Kim Kardashian shakes her naked ass all over the Internet.
I let out several full-bodied YAASSSS’s over the past few weeks upon seeing Ashley Graham rock out her curves on the cover of Sports Illustrated and Jasmine Sullivan, Chrisette Michelle, Gabi Fresh, and Danielle Brooks show their beautifully voluptuous legs on the cover of Ebony. But that joy was short lived as I read some of the God-awful commentary from Internet trolls and washed-up super models (Yes, I’m looking at you, Cheryl Tiegs.). I have no idea why we marvel at thigh gaps and trained waists but declare all out war on women who dare to carry some meat on their bones.
Let me be bold enough and speak for all the fat girls and say that we are DONE with being shamed. Do you hear me? DONE. Yes, we are VIVIDLY aware of the dangers of a high BMI, having a waist size larger than a Cheerio, and the greater risks for developing high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. But before you chastise us, have you ever stopped to realize that some of us are actually living as healthfully as we possibly can AND we’re still curvy with all of our efforts? Have you ever considered how motherfucking hard it is to go into a gym, a yoga studio, or even walk around a neighborhood track without fear of someone ridiculing you? Do you know how terrifying it is to board a bus, train, or plane with a fuller body and pray that someone won’t be a dick about you sitting beside them? (This just happened to me two weeks ago on a flight home to New York from Houston. It was embarrassing and annoying, but I got an aisle seat out of it, so thanks, asshole).
I know it’s a tall order to ask for ACCEPTANCE from a society that has rarely valued anyone with curves, so all that I request is that you just let us BE. Let us BE mothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends, and sisters. Let us BE flawed, imperfect, and vulnerable. Let us BE loved, honored, cherished, sensual, and sexy. Let us BE dimpled-kneed, full-bellied, thick-waisted, and double DD’d. Most of all, just let us BE HUMAN—HUMANS who have every right to be respected, honored, and, yes, even BEAUTIFUL.
While these words firmly echo my own heart’s desire, I hope and pray that every full-bodied woman will take some solace in these words and know that you have every God-given right to BE BEAUTIFUL and to declare that the fat shaming is ENOUGH.