Bread and Butter

When I hear the word thick I almost choke.  I envision a hearty slab of bread and butter. Not only is the bread hearty but it is heavy as well. Thick is an adjective commonly used by African-Americans to describe a certain body type. For example, Beyonce would be considered thick. It is an idolized body shape in the African-American community: African-American women seem to want bigger butts and think thighs touching is a good thing. However, I cringe at the thought of someone calling me thick.

In high school, I wanted to be paper thin like my white counter parts. I wanted flat thighs and a flat butt. However, my size zero looked different: my thighs had more dimension, and my butt protruded. I was drowning in a sea of paper thin double zeroes. They valued thinness. Thick was not accepted, it was offensive. I remember a white friend of mine brought to tears because someone called her thick. “Thick! Black girls are thick. Not me,” she said. I was offended. I didn’t want to be thick, why should I be okay with thick?  Why should I settle for thick? It’s assumed that all black women want to be thick but that is not the case.

Throughout the duration of four years, I went from a size zero to a size three. During this scary transition, I remember people saying I looked thicker especially when describing my thighs and bum. They said it with a smile, especially my African-American friends. I was supposed be happy. Bigger thighs and a bigger butt were supposed to be a good thing. By many I was told that I should “want to have a bigger butt, that’s what black girls want” and I was laughed at because I didn’t want that aesthetic for myself.

To me, thick is fat. It’s a lazy word, an excuse used for the extra 10 to 20 pounds.  But I realize I have a  distorted subconscious concept of beauty. For years I struggled with my body image.  I wanted to be thin, because thin was beautiful, and thick was not. I starved myself during high school to make sure I could stay under 100 pounds. I did squats religiously to make sure that my thighs didn’t touch and that my torso was waif like.

Now I realize why this word “thick” enrages me. The way thick is slapped on black women disregards the fact that they suffer with body image issues and insecurities. Many suffer with eating disorders, and in my opinion are often overlooked because the assumption is because they are black they want to be heavier.   The assumption is that they don’t suffer with low self-esteem, they are not emotionally fragile, nor are they delicate like their other female counter parts which takes away from their humanity. The word itself is heavy and strong like its meaning (The word “strong” another stereotype that is often used to describe black women).

Most people love a thick slice of bread and butter. All women, no matter what race, suffer with body image issues and insecurities.

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