The Shape of Your Privilege
Imagine going to a store and gathering potential soulmates in a pair of jeans only to find out none of them fit over your thighs. I’ve cried, healing and negotiated with myself to see if I’m imagining that those jeans did fit in the dressing room, but it’s like stores want me not to feel fulfilled.
Materialism isn’t the price of happiness. However, being able to find something that compliments my figure (and wallet) is the price and a hard one to find at that. The search for jeans that is not too long for my short, 5’1 frame and that can pull over my thighs and button over my waist is tricky. Growing up, I would be embarrassed if I had to wear shorts or skirts because my thighs touched. Changing in front of people also was not ideal; I wanted to hide myself. I hid my body in a jacket all day to avoid anyone having the chance to find something to judge. My zipped jacket was an armor of not wanting any sense of harassment/bullying that occurred pretty much daily.
Like many people in this day and age, now I just do online shopping because it’s convenient, and I don’t have to put something that didn’t fit back on a rack. I hide my love handles under a tank top whenever I wear a dress or a crop top and if I don’t, then I’m being brave of potentially showing the rolls of my back. I’ve been told what not to wear for my body more than what I want to wear.
It came to my attention of a certain privilege I hold while existing in my particular black girl plus-size body. Privileges in the plus sized community include but are not limited to: being white, cis, straight, able-bodied, “curvy without rolls”, rich, and others. A lot of body positive movements always seem to champion white women to embrace their curves while singling out black women, like they are grotesque. Colorism and hair type discrimination against black women are both things that intersect with fat-phobia. White women can be seen as beautiful with their curves, while black women have been ridiculed or ignored from the body positivity movement. The way one body type can be treated differently and accepted might contrast from another body type in the workplace, dating etc. Curvy girls are either fetishes or considered attractive anonymously among men.
If people only support bodies that they find attractive, they might want to rethink calling themselves “body positive.” Body positivity goes beyond the hourglass figures with large breasts and curves. Would you still support large tummies that came with curvy hips if that meant supporting small breasts with big tummies? Or no curves with small breasts? According to a Refinery29 article, it is estimated that 67% of women are plus-size at size 14 or larger. While on social media, if a girl does not have a thigh gap or flat stomach, she has a high chance of getting harassed or cyberbullied.
However if a curvy girl is considered attractive, she is more accepted, and brands and people give her more applause. For example, a curvy girl I follow on Instagram, posted a photo of a body measurement fill-out sheet for models but her size was not available. The hip measurement that listed was for 24-36. There were so many female commenters who were outraged by the limited choices, such as myself having a 42 inch hip measurement. As I saw girls comment how they did not see their hip measurements like a 44 or 48 being listed, I realized again how often women that are straight sizes have the privilege of better representation.
The plus size community has made improvements for body diversity in recent years. However, it still has a long way to go. The community needs to accurately represent curvy women in all forms such as fashion brands that carry sizes 16-22 or larger sizes for fast fashion and bridal gowns.
Social media and society make it seem that the only body types a person can praise are the straight, physique and hourglass figure whereas rolls, cellulite, and other natural appearances are deemed ugly, yet almost everyone has them. We all seem to have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the shapes and sizes of our bodies, but it’s important to realize that beauty is beyond size, and ALL body privileges count!
Written by Alifa Jackson
Alifa also is working on her book, titled Curves Ahead.