I am a firm believer that any intimate, romantic relationship should not be two halves making a whole, but two whole individuals coming together to make something new and beautiful. However, I believe just as firmly that you can be a whole person who is still plagued by insecurities that make you feel ‘lesser than’.
The open letter below is a list of insecurities I have faced for as long as I can remember, and the ways in which the man I love celebrates some of the aspects of my body that my community and society have conditioned me to hate the most.
I haven’t gone up a cup size since middle school. When I return home from college on breaks, I’m “still so skinny!” and not in the ‘good’ way. My feet are a size 10, which is somehow still met with shock from aunties who have known me for years. I’ve got a huuuge forehead, and it’s not helped by the fact that my skin is so oily that as I step out of the house, it begins to shine like a beacon in a sea of matte and contoured faces.
I also wrote this piece in part because I realized that there are key subconscious differences between the following two scenarios:
My partner being “totally fine!” with the fact that when I wax, I keep a triangle of hair in my bikini instead of taking it all off. “Even though,” he might add innocently, “I do prefer it bare”.
My partner telling me, unsolicited, how much he loves my hair, everywhere on my body.
I’ve been in both places, and trust me, there’s a difference. I think finding someone who has this kind of awe and raw love of you is worth celebrating.
In this piece, it is important to keep in mind that I am coming from a very particular place. I acknowledge that people feel very differently and have different insecurities, but these are mine and they’re just as real to me. He doesn’t own me and I don’t own him, but we are each other’s, and that is one of the things that I value most in this relationship. Here it is.
Open letter to the partner of this Black woman
I love you because your feet are bigger than mine.
I love you because you don’t care about that.
Because you make my eyes shine brighter than my nose and forehead when I sweat.
Because you give me the space to shine in more ways than one.
Because, to you, I am not the angry black girl, or the sassy black girl, or the
light-skin black girl, or that black girl.
Because you uplift me in such a way that I know that with you, I can just be this
Because my hair is never too big, and my breasts aren’t too small.
Because my height and my waistline don’t matter at all.
Because when I cut off my hair you celebrated with me, and did not try to change who I was, am or will be.
Thank you for your love.
For the space to grow.
Thanks that our journey isn’t just yours with me in tow.
Thank you for building a life with me that has room for both of us.
Thank you that it’s founded on love, faith, and trust,
Thank you for always acknowledging my pain,
my days filled with rain.
Thank you for being there in my shittiest, darkest hour.
When you call me yours, I do not feel owned.
I don’t feel threatened.
I still feel grown.
I don’t feel confined to the realm of the possessed.
I feel loved, I feel grateful, I feel strong, I feel blessed.
I feel free, because you remind me every day
Of an important phrase that you’ve taught me to say:
That me being yours and you being mine
Is not some prison we accept over time.
Because, most importantly, for better (not worse),
It does not mean that we don’t belong to ourselves first.
So anyway, my love, thank you for all that.
And when I’m insecure, thanks for meeting me where I’m at.
My body is mine–I celebrate it my way.
And I thank God that I’ve found someone who’ll grow in self-love with me every day.
A happy, kinky-haired, noodle-armed, flat-chested, shiny-head-over-size-10-heels black woman.