By: Kristen Greenwood
Please sit down, grab a cup of tea, cuddle up, and allow me to tell a tale about how our skinny sistas need to get it together.
Now, throughout my life I have run the gamut from being chubby to heavy to thick to plus size; and because of that, I have many years of curvy woman experience behind me. I am also a black women who has navigated through mostly white environments, so I have felt all of the complication and nuance associated with that type of upbringing as well.
To illustrate, one of the most consistent attacks I felt in those environments was that of microaggressions, which presented themselves as slights (conscious or subconscious) against me based on my race. Because I live it quite frequently, the topic of microaggressions greatly interests me, and I consume any literature or information I find on the concept because it encapsulates what I constantly felt growing up. And in absorbing all of this information on microaggression theory, I started to realize that I have felt this feeling in other areas, too.
In fact, some of my thinner friends have spewed some really ignorant things my way when addressing the attention I get from men. In other words, I realized that as a curvy girl, I had experienced microaggressions from thin women.
“But why?!”, I asked myself. Why would some of my fellow baddies be so cruel as throw subtle insults my way? And the only reasoning I can come up with for this phenomenon is that maybe some thinner women are taken aback, threatened by, or even confused by my ability to attract men.
When I begin to further analyze why this sentiment exists, it boggles my mind. Maybe just by my thriving and living well as a curvy woman, I have subconsciously launched an assault on a concept they have built their lives upon. Maybe it’s a dig to their egos….after all, if a thick girl can get more play than them, maybe they aren’t as cute as they thought? But there is a flaw in that thought process.
Just because a woman is plus-sized, doesn’t mean she is any less attractive than anyone else. There cannot be any “attractiveness points” deducted off the top just because someone is curvy. Attractiveness is a matter of perception, right? So why place your self-worth on a concept that is subjective?
I am not saying that curvy women are more attractive than thin women. I am also not saying that curvy women get more attention than thin women. Furthermore, I am definitely not stating that thin women are envious of their curvy counterparts. I just want to bring light to a dynamic that has played out time and time again throughout my life– one that I have never heard being discussed. To illustrate, I have compiled a list of microaggressions that have been relayed to me over the years, along with my thoughts. Just because some were funny, some were sad, and some made me feel sorry for the person who was insecure enough to say it:
- “You’re really pretty for a big girl. You keep yourself up.” I’m glad you noticed. So did your man.
- “So we both got a lot of attention tonight. Those three guys were interested in me, and you had two guys interested in you. ” What a simple-minded statement. Also, I don’t know where you went to school, but where I went, we learned to count. And I got four numbers. And why are you keeping count anyway? To be honest, I did not save any of those numbers. A sistah ain’t pressed.
- “Aw, how cute!! Kristen got a guy!!!” Yes, girl. I got a guy. The only reason I don’t always have a guy (like you do) is that I’m choosing. And if it was up to your man, I would be choosing him.
- “Light-skinned girls get extra attention when they don’t deserve it.” This was said to my face. I am a fair-complexioned black woman. So….whatchu mean, boo? I’m only pulling because I have a fair complexion? Trust me on this—you’d be pulling too if you didn’t have the thirst of a thousand desserts. Tell me again about how you need a man?
- “Well since I lost weight, I’ve gotten so much more attention.” That’s cute for you girl. I’ve never been skinny by any stretch, but I’ve been smaller and bigger than I am now. I received the same amount of attention at each weight. This probably says more about your security at each stage than how attractive you are.
I realize that on surface level, some of these microaggressions don’t seem weight- related, but oh, they are. Here’s the thing about microaggressions—the insult or slight is based upon a person’s marginalized status, but it does not have to be a direct reference to what makes that person marginalized. So it seems, by any means necessary, my aggressors felt the need to throw a jab in there to assert that they are better. Or made a sad attempt to take me down a peg if I get attention. Or, they tried to belittle my relationships or attractiveness by saying “Aw, how cute. Someone found her attractive despite her physical appearance.”
Keep in mind—I don’t ever make a big deal about the attention I might get because I don’t care. Everyone gets attention, so it doesn’t make me special. And to be honest, I have bigger things to think about. In my circles, I’m actually known as the person who hardly ever has a boyfriend. So it makes the attempts to minimize me seem even more desperate.
But let me tell say this—these women say these things because they are insecure. I came to realize a long time ago that as long as I am treating my body right, working toward mental clarity, exercising regularly, and feeding myself the good, whole, clean, food that I deserve, I am doing what I need to do. So far, I have been able to move past this commentary and not allow it to affect me.
No matter where you are in the struggle, do not internalize what anyone else says about you. It doesn’t matter if you are healthy and happy at a size 16 or working toward another goal. The attractiveness comes from the inside, and it reflects on the outside.
And no matter what TV or social media or other people might tell you, if you have that confidence that radiates from the inside out, you will attract other people. It is a law of nature. You will be admired. You will have a glow.
To this day, I still get these microaggressions hurled at me from time to time. Whatever action I decide to take to fight the ignorance, I am confident in myself and know my worth enough to recognize each slight for what it is. That is my peace. Hopefully our thinner sisters can do some introspection to recognize and halt the microaggressions before they are even launched at us. Maybe that is a pipe dream. But until then, I’ll keep doing me. Confidence despite all else– isn’t that beautiful?