I’ve been promising some of you that I’d write about women’s bodies, but have delayed doing so. This is not an easy topic to COVER or PENETRATE, especially in words.
How does a woman reclaim her body, love it, communicate through it, poeticize it….how does a woman fully live in herself, occupy her own space, her own chasm, explore and guard her own orifices? How does a woman feel beautiful…How does a woman show herself, how does she hide, how does she move? Well, let’s say that if you begin to answer these questions, the answer CANNOT be boiled down to a number or a specific weight. This is not pounds of meat that we are talking about here, and therefore reaching a certain number is not the answer to feeling good about your body.
Many of you are at war with your bodies. You yell at your body daily, you hiss at it, you avoid it in the mirror, or you spend countless hours scrutinizing it. As a result, your body is mad at you and it rebels. It doesn’t cooperate with you. It deliberately taunts you with its appetites. You see a fold, a wrinkle, a cellulite indentation in your thigh and you cringe- your body is offended. Do women who love their bodies have none of these? Of course not. They just find the grace, the power, the irony, the dance in their own flesh.
First off, I like to remind people that it is not only thin women who have lovers or who are married. No. Look around you. There are so many factors involved in having a relationship, appearance is only one. But let’s take appearance. Let’s say that men like beautiful women. Well what constitutes beauty then? If we take superficial beauty then we need to look at the contour of a woman’s body, her facial features, her colors, her textures etc. There are so many factors just on this level that don’t only have to do with weight. Then there’s how a woman moves her body. Some women move with poise and grace, others clunk around, others are always moving in a way that hides different parts of their bodies. Try this trick: close your eyes and imagine what it would feel like to be the most beautiful woman alive. How would you hold your body, how would you move, how would you walk and talk? Then compare this to how you move in your body, how you walk and talk. There are so many things that go into what makes a woman beautiful, and confidence is one of the most attractive traits- I’m sure you’ve heard this before. Now let’s move to attraction. People aren’t always just attracted to the most beautiful person around. Chemistry, like beauty has it’s own mysterious set of requirements. Have you’ve ever been attracted to someone that you didn’t think was particularly good looking? YES! How complex. Now if you’re fooling yourself into thinking that the only thing you need to do to control this whole attraction mayhem is lose weight, then you’re deluded!
One of my favorite books of poetry that happens to address this topic is Grace Nichol’s Fat Black Women’s Poems. The poems are sensual, inviting, subversive, all at once. Grace Nichols truly endows words with flesh and redeems a woman’s body from the realm of misogyny. Here’s her moving take on the female body. Enjoy this poem, as you would enjoy pinching a bit of the flesh in your thighs or stomach..with relish….
I am not your Venus de Milo perfectly sculptured from marble
To be carefully pedestal placed
My name is not Eve
I offer no temptation
I am not your concubine by night
Transformed by memory by day
I am not the milk you thirst for
Now dry in your mother’s breast
. . . I am no slave to a promise written in ink
When there is no master
There are no chains to be broken
Bondage is no glory
I am Woman
Bone of your Bones
Flesh of your Flesh
When I lay sleeping in your rib
You called me no name
I am that I am
— Faybiene, from “I Am”