Breathing in my Black Body in Birmingham, Alabama
(Picture courtesy of Salaam Green)
I am not confident, or an inspiration, or even brave simply because I have lost some weight. I get dressed in the dark and go to work with wrinkles in my clothes most days. In my previous home I decorated the whole living room with mirrors, mirrors over the fireplace, sofa, and such; however, in my small apartment, I haven’t looked in a mirror in months. I hate taking pictures even today and years ago I decided to not join the selfie craze because; I was too fat.
Growing up as a black girl I wasn’t given many cues towards how to love and take care of my body. Black women are the black women I knew exhausted themselves towards collapse. Understandably, there were limited choices.
~Black women bodies are often riddled with stress and images of her being sexualized pervasively are prevalent in today’s society.
When I moved to Birmingham over 19 years ago I was obese, 337 pounds and happy. People were not happy about the way I looked and made it known to me, however, I was happy as far as I can remember. Fast forward; after losing much of the weight and developing disordered eating I became obsessed with weight and the scale and achieving a small frame. Shrieking was my purpose and eating perfectly was the way I lived many years. I recall passing out in my apartment one night after eating grapes for dinner; my body was frail and I was anemic. At the time I didn’t tell anyone about this incident and others that occurred.
What I got from many people was congratulations on being skinny, staying skinny, and eating foods that would keep me skinny. I wasn’t living life; life was living me. Becoming obsessed with being a size 6 or less and wearing primed and proper dresses; I stressed my body all to fit into a southern mold my black body was never created to be in.
I maintained a 190 pound weight loss however after over 10 years my body is telling me that I gained some of the weight back. And wait for it, wait for it, I don’t know because I trashed my scale years ago and I also trashed weekly Over Eaters Anonymous meeting and rigid eating habits, such as clean eating, vegan days, and three perfectly balanced perfectly measured meals with 2 whole snacks and nothing in between. Ugh…can I scream to the top of my lungs freedom.
Yes, I am still very fearful of weight gain and I still worry that people are looking at me with disdain over the size of my thighs but I am doing better. Better for me does not mean perfect or fearless it simple means I accept more today than yesterday that I love carbs and dessert and I love to walk and hate to sweat. Therefore finding my breath in Birmingham, Alabama in the body I have today is better and good enough for me and that is all that really matters anyway.
At a recent doctor’s appointment, I was told that I was extremely stressed and needed to rest and quit some of my jobs. I too wasn’t breathing only existing and I fell into the trap of hustling and grinding in these Birmingham streets. Trying to achieve the perfect look and business and make all the right contacts with the correct clicks of people and who’s who of the city.
In 2018, I do not have body goals and what I choose to eat or don’t eat is my business and lastly, for the first time in a long time I am better and becoming even better and here’s a selfie not to prove anything to anyone but just because I am now breathing.