Category: identity

Our Fatphobia Is Showing…

identity, society, thinkpiece November 15, 2020

My morning routine is quite simple:

  1. Wipe away bulbs of dried mucus from my eyes, gently wiggle my phalanges in all directions before planting my extremities on the ground.
  2. Waltz on tip-toe to the large reflective device fitted to the wall in front of my bed, and take a deep inhale.
  3. Sharply plug the air from escaping my diaphragm.
  4. Marvel at how ‘skinny’ I look.
And just like that, another day has begun.

Recently, I began questioning my obsession with this routine, before it dawned on me, that I, in my size-8/10-US body, still struggle to fight against internalized fatphobia and body dysmorphia. The absence of my body in media (until very recently) created within me a belief that I should be other than I am: skinnier. This belief has been with me for some time–probably as long as it has been fed to me, through media and peers.

Is it not depressing as fuck that society tells us, at a default, that we’re better when we’re thin? That, we’re better when we literally hold less? I look back on photos from my girlhood to my early adulthood knowing that the person I’m looking at truly believed that they needed to lose weight (to be more desirable, and likable in general):

Today, I look at this person wishing she knew that that was so far from the truth.

When I look at myself today, I truly feel at home in my body 95% of the time, but I’m still stuck in that stupid cycle, doing that damn mirror routine most mornings. I’ve grown far from the girl who sometimes took “showers” after nights out in college so that she could purge in peace, but that growth doesn’t help me better cope with the realization that deep, deep down, that person may still be in there somewhere.

At the end of these realizations, when I usually begin to come-to, I seamlessly enter the primary stage of admittance–right in-step with recovery; I almost feel the impetus of self-liberation, but then, I re-enter the world, rife with advertising that doesn’t give a damn about what (little) progress I had made. The next step of recovery, understanding that there’s a greater power at play that lead me to be this fatphobic, was fairly easy considering the normalization of skinny via messaging that revolves around the idea of “watching your figure,” “getting a summer body,” and even, the seemingly harmless idea of dieting after the holidays.

Unfortunately, this messaging can be traced back to advertising in the early 1900s:

Since then, we’ve only picked up speed, and funneled these narratives into media deemed health-centric:

Of course, the messaging within the ads differentiate based on gender, with that for men promoting being muscular, instead of being skinny, as do women-centric ads. Nonetheless, the message is well-received:

there is something to gain in changing your body.

And for those who lose weight, there is much to gain, especially in the realm of celebrity:

But, even Hollywood shows us how the normalization of fatphobia translates to real-life consequences, such as the skinniest (and whitest) people being viewed more favorably; leading to the skinniest (and whitest) people having more opportunities in work, love, and many life-altering avenues.

In the real world, people who fit the standard of beauty receive higher quality medical care, meanwhile people in larger bodies are constantly told to lose weight before any attention valid concern is addressed. Society’s treatment of fat bodies doubles down on the idea that they are not worthy of the same treatment as they’re constantly made the butt of the joke, the ‘before picture’ in every makeover show, and now, on our most-used apps:

In the virtual and real world, fat bodies are policed in a way that skinny bodies simply are not:

So, when do we, as a collective, arrive at the place of letting larger bodies just be? Without critique, or unsolicited advice? When will the medical community treat fatness as a state of being for many, instead of an imminent threat to wellness, let alone, a death sentence? When we as a society begin to demand it; when we as a collective begin to root out the fatphobia within us; when we begin to see larger bodies as worthy, too.

It will be a long journey for most, given the barrage of fatphobic advertising that we don’t consent to seeing, yet see regardless; and, a life-long journey for people like me with histories of disordered eating, or body dysmorphia; but, together, our efforts may shorten the long walk to freedom.

The Face of America

america, identity, racism September 24, 2020

No matter where I go, I am never far removed from America:

A place lead by an aspiring authoritarian whose unconstitutional actions have consistently been upheld by other money-hungry, power-hungry, bad partisans.

A place where executive power topples all else, rendering checks and balances more of an illusion than a necessary practice.

A place where protecting people from an insidious virus is not a priority, but, downplaying the government’s responsibility in containing it, is. 

A place where government officials can work for tax-payer dollars while emboldening vigilantes to attack anyone who speaks out against a president who stands against so many.

A place where harmful misinformation is actively spread about antifascists, while the rise of white supremacy, posing the biggest terror threat to the country, goes underreported. 

A place where policies that worsen wealth disparities are instituted by an administration that touts ‘major economic growth,’ benefitting the top 10%, whilst millions of Americans teeter on the brink of eviction, hunger, or joblessness. 

A place that has successfully modernized and legalized slavery, and solidified a system that benefits greatly from the labor of incarcerated people within for-profit prisons. 

A place committing genocide by performing mass hysterectomies on women within ICE’s concentration camps. 

A place where police officers get charged for causing more harm to inanimate objects than they do for murdering Black women, men, and children. 

A place that is quickly growing more authoritarian than it is democratic. 

America’s racism is in Supreme Court decisions; the air and the water; and it’s pastimes. And it’s in you too. One thorough vibe check would show us the insincerity of the this-isn’t-who-we-are’s, when all signs strongly point to what America is, and always has been: the home of unabashed racism.

“Even the Nazis did not stoop to selling souvenirs of Auschwitz, but lynching scenes became a burgeoning sub department of the postcard industry. By 1908, the trade had grown so large, and the practice of sending postcards featuring the victims of mob murderers had become so repugnant, that the U.S. Postmaster General banned the cards from the mails.”

–Richard Lacayo, Time Magazine (2000)

White Silence Is Violence

identity, know, lifestyle, society June 1, 2020

To any White friend I have, or have had:

In this deeply racist society, it’s simply not enough for you to “not be racist;”

It’s not enough for you to treat me with the respect I deserve;

It’s not enough for you to open your home to me, and your other Black friends;

It’s not enough for you to know what’s happening;

It’s not enough for you to be and to be ‘outraged;’

It’s not enough for you to know the history of racism in this country, or even, of every other country on the face of this Earth;

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It’s not enough for you to read Angela Davis;

It’s not enough for you to know Malcolm X;

It’s not enough for you to walk in Black Live Matter protests;

It’s not enough for you to recognize your White Privilege;

It’s not enough for you to know how capitalism is inherently racist;

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It’s not enough for you to repent for the sins of Whiteness: multiplying the number of Nat Turner’s, Emmett Till’s, and Henrietta Lack’s;

It’s not enough for you to be actively antiracist;

It’s not enough for you to hold your White counterparts accountable;

It’s not enough for you to unlearn your racism;

None of it is enough when you remain silent about it.

White supremacy doesn’t end by you doing your antiracist work in the shadows. White supremacy doesn’t end by you not making it inherently clear that you are antiracist. Again, and again, and again. Until you’re blue in the face. Anything less than making your antiracist action known to your white friends and white family is violence. Anything less than you normalizing talking about race with your white friends and white family is violence. Anything less than you continuously shouting from the rooftops how white people can unlearn their racism, and how white people can contribute to dismantling white supremacy is violence.

And your violence is no longer acceptable to me.

I’ve endured years of your silence. I’ve seen you consume every inch of Black culture except for the death that comes with it. Through the years, I’ve heard chorus upon chorus of your thoughts on the latest Black dance, win by your favorite majority-Black sports team, Twitter beef between your favorite Black celebrities, or clothing drop from your favorite streetwear brand that routinely coopts trends started by Black people. And throughout the years, I’ve heard your deafening silence when police killed Trayvon Martin, Clifford Glover, Claude Reese, Randy Evans, Yvonne Smallwood, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Sean Bell, Jordan Davis, Jonathan Ferrell, Ezell Ford, Darius Pinex, Ramarley Graham, Yvette Smith, Darrien Hunt, Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams, Kendrick McDade, Akai Gurley, Rumain Brisbon, Aiyana Jones, John Crawford, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Stephon Watts, Rekia Boyd, Trisha Miller, Dakota Bright, Corey Harris, Larry Jackson Jr., Tarika Wilson, John Crawford, Gary Hatcher, Manuel Loggins Jr., Nicholas Hayward, Kathryn Johnston, Samuel Dubose, Freddie Gray, The Charleston 9, Sandra Bland, Corey Jones, Alton Sterling, Roshad McIntosh, Ronald Madison, Joel Acevedo, Philando Castile, Patrick Dorismond, Jordan Baker, Timothy Stanbury, Terrence Crutcher, Keith Scott, Jordan Edwards, Stephon Clark, Bothem Sean, Atatiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor,  Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd.

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I’ve endured your silence all 60+ chances you’ve had to speak out. I’ve endured watching you take zero of those chances, and still resolving to calling yourself my ‘friend.’ “Maybe they’re waiting for the next one?” I used to wonder. But, now I know that your silence means that you don’t see the perpetual violence against Blackness as your problem.

And it’s laughable.

Have you not lived this life in community with so many people? The next time your friend’s family member is sick, will you not console them? Will you not congratulate the next family member of yours who gives birth? Will you not check in on your friend who attended a funeral? Or, console the next one who has their heart broken? …Oh, I’m mistaken? You’ll be there for them? Even though none of those things directly have anything to do with you?

So, then, why the fuck are you not avidly fighting to make Black Lives Matter?

It’s because you don’t believe that they do.

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Storytelling in the Age of COVID-19

art, business, CEO, identity, know, thinkpiece April 29, 2020

Countless commercials are talking about our ‘unprecedented times,’ so what does this moment mean for storytelling in business?

To find out, I turned to Tamon George, Co-Founder & CEO of Creative Theory Agency, and my latest guest on ‘Oh…We’re Going There’ podcast.

Tamon is a creative theorist based in Washington DC whose award-winning, culture-focused marketing agency is amplifying voices, and telling necessary stories that overturn common narratives.

Here’s my conversation with Tamon, and links to connect with him:

Spotify Podcasts

Apple Podcasts

Google Play

Stitcher

Creative Theory Agency

@Tamon_

The Multifaceted-ness of Blackness

blackness, identity, Millennials, muslim, religion, society March 11, 2020

In this episode, Najma Sharif and I chat about the many ways to be Black, a woman, a Muslim, and the experiences that have come with each of those identities.

Najma is a writer, visual artiste, and founder of The Rader Zine. Najma’s work has been featured in major publications like Teen Vogue, Playboy, Bitch Media, Paper Mag, Vice, Fader and Highsnobiety, amongst others. In her pieces, she discusses pop culture within the lens of capitalism, black and Muslim identity, feminism, and history.

Here’s my conversation with Najma and how to connect with her:

Spotify Podcasts

Apple Podcasts

Google Play

Stitcher

Najma’s Work

Najma’s Twitter