The [Black Girl] Skinny: On Black Culture and Beauty Standards

Originally posted at Ashleigh, Not Ashley

This post is a hard one for me to write.

It has been hard for me to articulate this because I didn’t want to sound like the privileged whiners that I loathe, so I kept quiet. Thing is, and I cringe as I write this sentence, being skinny hasn’t always been that much fun for me. You see, while mainstream media tells me that my body type is in demand, my surrounding and my culture tell me different.

While someone is telling me “There are girls STARVING to get your body”, there another laughing at my ass, or lack of one. Yea, being skinny is cool….if you’re a white chick. However, if you’re mocha colored like I am, you’re in a precarious position. To be blunt, black folks like ass and titties. For a lot of chocolate people, a REAL woman (*vomit* I hate that term), has an ample bottom and a supple bosom. I had parents that reaffirmed my beauty day in and day out but I still wasn’t able to avoid that message. So, what did I do? I hid.

(Read: Blogs and Online Communities To Help Black Women Stay Healthy and Fit)

I thought my arms were too noodle and my ass too flat so I wore a hoodie to cover  both. Shorts? In school? Ha! I always kept my legs covered. I didn’t want to risk anyone seeing my chicken legs so jeans it was. I kept this charade going until late high school when senioritis and its accompanying lack of fucks made me a little braver. Not brave enough to wear a bathing suit to senior picnic but I took off the damn hoodie and wore a pair of shorts.

Flash forward to now. I’m in my early 20s and although I’ve made stride with my body image, like many women, I have my weak moments. Top depression-induced irrational thoughts onto that and I have a hot ass mess going on inside of my brain. Sometimes, I love my body and can’t get enough of it and other times, seeing a big booty getting ogled will send me into a spell of “I hate me's.”

(Read: Stop Wasting Your Time Telling Me I'm Fat)

Self-esteem is a precarious thing and while I try to keep the personal out of my political as much as possible, I can’t help but wonder if  I would feel different if my skin was a different color and my culture had different standards. It’s definitely something to think about and I might do a non-emo blog post on it later. For now, I just want to hear what you think.

(Read: Black Women’s Confidence, Self Image, and the Problem of Mixed Messages)

How have your cultural beauty standards affected your self-esteem and views of your body?

-Ashleigh Atwell

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