By Hannah Eko
I am curious. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: I am curious on how women of color view their bodies and their media reflections.
I’m curious on how women of color relate to beauty. In what ways are we free from Eurocentric airbrushed ideals? In what ways do we struggle?
I recently attended an Endangered Bodies NYC meeting and got into a conversation with one of the founders. I expressed a qualm I’ve had regarding body positivity and the woman of color, namely black and Latina women for some time now: do we even need body positivity? Are we indeed more secure in our body confidence that a movement centered on our body/beauty experience and media portrayals is really a waste of time?
My gut answer to this question is no. I’ve heard too many stories from friends, seen too many woman color caught in a never ending cycle of not-enough tied to their looks.
There was my friend who in her mid-20’s was already afraid that she’d be one of those black women whose “black would crack” and she’d age noticeably. There were my skinny, dark skinned and fat friends who felt unseen whenever they went out to the club. There was my queer friend who hung out with a lot of white punks and felt her body was “too much” for the indie aesthetic because she actually had an ass.
So many stories. Of course, I can’t say there aren’t ANY places these stories are being told. Itgetsfatter.tumblr.com, @IntersectionalBodyPos, and thebodyisnotanapology.com are just a couple examples where people of color lay out their own brand of body positivity.
These spaces didn’t wait to be “included” in the mainstream movement of body positivity and what they are doing is pretty awesome.
But, I am greedy woman. I want to see more.
Due to the myriad of often life threatening concerns that women of color, disabled, and queer people face, it doesn’t surprise me that body positivity isn’t the initial item on the list of on-line activism.
If everyday concerns were situated on a ladder, where would body confidence and body positivity lie for women of color? Does it feel shameful to be passionate about the idea of body positivity when there are so many other (often named as more important) issues out there?
In today’s instant answer times, there is a part of me that just wants to ask Dr. Google what is out there regarding my questions. But, there is also a larger part of me content to let my questions live and reveal themselves in time. I’m sure there are more than one answer to all of them.
These are my questions regarding women of color and body positivity. What are yours?
Hannah Eko was crowned Miss Tall International 2014 and is the goodwill ambassador of Tall Clubs International. She currently lives in Brooklyn and is a graduate of Penn State's Community and Economic Development program. Hannah loves Great Danes, Wonder Woman, and walking around cities with her headphones on. She blogs at hanabonanza.com