An apple. After a strenuous minute of research on Pinterest, I’ve found that my body type is an apple. Large bust, wide torso, good legs, undefinable waistline and narrow hips. As an Afro-Latina, I am supposed to be the emblem of sex, so what the fuck is an apple?
I used to “joke” (Are jokes ever just jokes?) that my Latinx and Blackness cancelled each other out. Looking back, I realized how the hypersexualization of my identities translated into what I should look like. I am supposed to have an ass, large breasts, but not excessive, small waist, and a flat stomach. I have breasts that you see from the other side of the room, an ass that you could not find with a microscope and a stomach that prevents you from getting too close to my body. However, my stomach is not enough to stop people from crossing lines and penetrating my space.
I hate the first thing that you see are my breasts. I hate the lack of consent they imply as if they are separate from me and belong to you. Like they’re yours to stare at. Grab. Pet. Play with. Idolize. Ever since I’ve grown them, they’ve become part of my identity. Again, as a “joke”, I allowed myself to be reduced to my breasts. They are not mine, they are for the pleasure of others. In some way I am affirmed by the acknowledgement and sexualization of my breasts. In a way, I am fulfilling the sex portion that is required of my Afro-Latinidad.
“I feel like I have failed my community. “
But not really. Although people’s eyes are drawn to my breasts, eventually they get the whole picture. I angle my head in a position and my chins appear; I wear a crop top and my stomach jiggles; I relax my leg and my cellulite appears; I slouch and my back rolls accumulate; I stand and my love handles protrude and almost instantaneously the sex appeal dies. A newfound sense of confusion and pity emerges on someone’s face as they analyze my insufficiencies as a woman of color. As I notice someone doing a diagnostic of my body, I try to shrink and hide. I wear sweaters, I stand in the back of friend groups, I sit in the corner of classrooms, hoping to never be seen. When I need the usual erasure and invisibility of my existence to work in my favor, it fails me.
I feel like I have failed my community. As if there is something wrong with me. I am not a sex symbol or someone’s fantasy. I am a hidden secret. A walking set of all of society’s insecurities. I have sold my self-esteem to the unforgiving and greedy hands of society.
I know this is wrong. I know that it is harder for me to see my beauty because Black girls and self-love are supposed to be mutually exclusive. I see parts of my body that I devalue on other people and never see it as a flaw on them. I don’t understand this separation. I don’t understand how everyone around me has passed my beauty standards, but the person in the mirror fails everyday. I am unable to allow for the body positivity I spread and push onto others to settle within myself. I rely on affirmations that my body is beautiful, but never receive them. People will never compliment my love handles. People will never love the way my stomach droops or how the folds on my back, overlap. People will never love my body, therefore neither will I.
“I am trying to disassociate my beauty with society. I am trying to reclaim my body. But when everyone is entitled to your body, when history has told you that your body is not your own, when magazines tell you how to dress for your body or when doctors tell you how to fix your body, to say the least, it is hard.”
This is not okay. I know and I am trying. I am trying to disassociate my beauty with society. I am trying to reclaim my body. But when everyone is entitled to your body, when history has told you that your body is not your own, when magazines tell you how to dress for your body or when doctors tell you how to fix your body, to say the least, it is hard. I use humor to mask the pain that goes with it. Even now I “joke” about when I get my new body through plastic surgery. How my breasts will be reduced, my butt will be enlarged and all the weight carried throughout the years of disgrace and disgust from my body will quite literally be removed. Although surgery seems like a pretty good option and a way to fill my desires of beauty, it seems like a loss. And I hate to lose. Winning means validating my body and not needing an approval from anyone but myself. I want to win.
Everyday, I challenge myself. I wear clothes I like, not the ones “fit for my body type”. I tell myself corny cliches like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” or “beauty is pain”. I look at everything with a different perspective. I go to beaches knowing that this is a place where all bodies will be exposed and accepted. Entering shopping malls and clothing stores, I walk to the back of every single store and enter the plus-size section and I tell myself to walk with pride. To think of it as a privilege to get here, not a punishment.
My body is a privilege to look at. My body is a privilege to be in. My body is a privilege to access. My body is my own and beautiful, and one day I will truly believe that.
“My body is a privilege to look at. My body is a privilege to be in. My body is a privilege to access. My body is my own and beautiful, and one day I will truly believe that.”