I’m Liberating Myself From Diet Culture and Loving My Black Body
I feel like I have waited my entire life to say this. “I love my body.” Now I just must believe it.
“One day I had to sit down with myself and decide that I loved myself no matter what my body looked like and what other people thought about my body.” — Gabourey Sidibe
I am a victim of diet culture. I was raised by my parents to believe that I must make my body something it would never be: thin, white, fit and compliant. Society told this Black girl that she would never be good enough. The images in media showed the ideal and never considered the large brown bodies that naturally exist in society and how they are also beautiful and the norm.
It Is for My Own Good, So They Said
“Speak to your body in a loving way. It’s the only one you’ve got, it’s your home, and it deserves your respect.” — Iskra Lawrence
When society failed at shaming us larger-bodied people into smaller bodies through the media, they decided to make it about our health.
I am healthy; I just also happen to be large, but you cannot tell any medical professional that. The comments I have received would drive anyone to eat. It is as if they have a script and cannot treat me as an individual instead of as a fat blob that must be reined in or I am going to drop dead right in front of them.
Now This Is Something I Can Get Behind
“We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.” — Lori Deschene
I recently learned about the body positivity movement. A movement started in the 1960s by Black and queer women for people that are in larger bodies, LGBTQIA+, disabled and others who do not meet the unrealistic beauty standards of our society.
The goals of the body positivity movement are to fight back against how society views all kinds of bodies (from skin tones, ability to social norms), to promote love of all bodies, to help people have body confidence and acceptance of their own bodies, and to challenge unrealistic body standards.
I never considered that I did not have to have shame. Why would I? Everyone was shaming me: family, friends, doctors, teachers — everybody. It is a spoken “rule” that it takes tough love with fat people to get them to comply so, damn to their mental health.
“And I said to my body, softly, ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath and replied, ‘I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.’” Nayyirah Waheed
I have decided to no longer diet and to take up anti-dieting and body positivity as a social justice cause. It is unjust how we treat people in this country as it relates to weight stigma and it is damaging our collective psyche.
I have spent my entire life hating my body. Felling that if I were thin, only then would I be acceptable and worthy of love. What a horrible way to live a life but that is how many are. I now know I have disordered eating because of this treatment. I have now had to be deprogrammed from how I have been treated. I am so steeped in diet culture I am not sure how long it will take for me to untangle myself.
I am committed to freeing myself and others from this diet culture and liberate our minds from the control of others trying to control our bodies.
I cannot stop thinking about the next fat Black girl growing up under this oppression. I want to do justice for her. She deserves better.
Join me in this liberation. Together we can do this and change the face of diet culture for generations to come.
“By speaking of ourselves in a positive and affirmative fashion and finding ways to eradicate self-hate … we can foster a sense of love and compassion powerful enough to restructure our society’s entire perspective of ‘body love.’” — Jessamyn Stanley
Here are some anti-diet, body positivity resources I have discovered; I hope they can help you too:
- “The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love Book” by Sonya Renee Taylor.
- “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight” by Lindo Bacon.
- “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works” by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole.
- “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies: Freeing Yourself from Food and Weight Obsession” by Jane R. Hirschmann.
- “Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat: A Story of Bulimia” by Stephanie Covington Armstrong.
- “Through THICK and Thin and Thick Again: A Black Woman’s Journey with BED” by Nettie Reeves-Lewis.
- “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body” by Roxane Gay.
- “A Hunger So Wide and So Deep: A Multiracial View of Women’s Eating Problems” by Becky Thompson.
- “Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia” by Sabrina Strings.
- “Fat Girls in Black Bodies: Creating Communities of Our Own” by Joy Arlene Renee Cox.
- “Fattily Ever After: A Black Fat Girl’s Guide to Living Life Unapologetically” by Stephanie Yeboah.
- Sonnalee Rashatwar, LCSW — Instagram.
- Virgie Tovar — Instagram.
- Nicolette Mason — Instagram.
- Gabi — Instagram.
- Dr. Lexx James — Website.
- Arielle Estoria — Instagram.
- Stephanie Yeboah — Instagram.
- Lauren | Barre | NASM CPT — Instagram.
- Leah V — Instagram.
- Ericka Hart, M.Ed. — Instagram.
- CeCe Olisa — Instagram.
- Marie Southard Ospina — Instagram.
- “It’s Time to Correct the Narrative Surrounding Black Girls and Eating Disorders” by Anissa Gray.
- “When Black Girls Hear That ‘Our Bodies Are All Wrong’” by Mikki Kendall
- “Black Women Suffer from Eating Disorders too, Stop Pushing Us out of Those Conversations” by Clarkisha Kent.
- “Women of Color: The Eating Disorder Survivors who Suffer in Silence” by Achea Redd.
- “Beyond ‘Eating Disorders Don’t Discriminate’” from The Emily Program.
- “How Whiteness Killed the Body Positive Movement” by Kelsey Miller.
- “Body positivity changed my world. Why didn’t I do more to make sure it changed things for Black women, too?” by Kelsey Miller.
- “We Need To Banish White Supremacy From Eating Disorders Treatment” by Gloria Oladipo.
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Blogs
- “Perspectives on Diversity and Being Marginalized from Both Sides of the Couch” by Christina Ojeda, LMFT and Reasons Alumna, Yari Hall.
- “The Problematic Whitewashing of Eating Disorder Recovery” by Lakesha Lafayett.
- “Unlearning ‘Perfect’ As a Woman of Color in a Racist World” – Lakesha Lafayett.
- “When You Don’t Fit the ‘Eating Disorder Mold’ As an African American” by Celeste Saddler.
Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash