I had pretty much decided to give this week’s post a miss, simply because it goes against every teaching I EVER received from my culture. So if you’re reading this post shaking your head from side to side making that ‘tsk tsk’ disappointed sound, thinking “didn’t her mother teach her better” STOP that right now and hear me out.
Have you ever wondered why we look away or wince with embarrassment or pick out flaws when we see a black woman in a bathing suit, but yet we don’t even flinch when we see a white woman in a bathing suit? It’s almost like we’ve been brainwashed by the media and society into believing that beautiful is skinny with golden olive skin and bright blue or green eyes and long dark silky locks. What, so it’s ok for white women to celebrate their bodies and for the world to call that beautiful and sexy and for that to be the standard to which all women are held to, even though in reality we come in all different shapes colours and sizes? I feel like black women are so under-represented especially in the fashion industry. Yes, there has been some improvement over the years however when you do come across a picture of a black woman in a magazine it’s normally a half black woman who still technically has that golden olive-brown skin and the long black silky locks down her back. So where does that leave the rest of us?
I come from a culture where showing a lot of skin is pretty much considered ‘soliciting’ your body and therefore you could be labelled ‘loose’ in our community. To be seen in your bathing suit is considered taboo, inappropriate or vulgar. Don’t get me wrong, I understand there are some good lessons for young women such as ‘value yourself’ and ‘respect your body’ however there is also another side to this that I feel has left me with a certain complex when it comes to my own body image. The truth is that I have really struggled with enjoying my sexuality and femininity without dealing with the fear of being judged or even fighting my own feelings of guilt and embarrassment. It’s taken me years (as in it’s still a work in progress) to feel somewhat comfortable in my own skin and I’ve realized that I’m not alone in this. Besides that one science class in high school on ‘reproduction’ no one really talked to me about female sexuality, I was always told to hide my body but never told to be proud of my body…well, until I met my husband.
So, here I am wearing these orange bathers that my husband got for me. I’m wearing them with a black wrap skirt around my waist because that’s MY definition of sexy and a little white tee because I’m a top or bottom kinda girl and a head wrap because I ain’t tryna get this wig wet! I love my culture and I certainly respect it but I think there is a greater conversation here, women in Africa today are being taunted and even beaten for wearing any clothing that is considered ‘tight’ or ‘revealing’. Keen to hear your thoughts.