This post was really hard to write. So hard that this is actually the third (fourth?) time I’ve rewritten it. I really hate body shaming. I believe it keeps people from reaching their goals (weight or not) regardless of whether you’re receiving it or giving it. More on that later.
Surprisingly, I don’t have 28 years’ worth of life experiences that chipped away at my self-esteem. I had a few times where people called me fat (I was always chubby) but I don’t remember ever being all that upset about it. Little Dominique was all like, “Tuh! I’m ***Flawless!” before I even knew Queen Bey existed. Neither of my parents ever made me feel bad about my size. They’d both encourage me to try different activities or allowed me to workout with them but those were things I asked to do.
I think the most “extreme” thing my mom ever did was attempt knocking her Pepsi habit cold-turkey over the weekend. It always ended with me offering to buy her Pepsi because NAW! Ain’t nobody got time for other folks’ caffeine withdrawl! I thank them both for it.
To this day, I never realize how big I am until after I’ve lost weight. Even when I look at photos of me being 192 just two years ago, I didn’t feel like I was anywhere near as plump as I was. I remember seeing myself as bigger than I am now but the difference in my head is not as great as the difference in my side-by-side photos. Basically, my parents set me up to be almost immune to other folks’ false sense of authority.
I shared the following (metaphorical) equation in last week’s post. This post is the first of three explanations I was talking about:
That “almost immune” brings me back to why I hate body shaming with a hot purple passion. When most people think of body shaming, they think of fat shaming. Maybe they also consider that it works in reverse. Anything beyond that usually gets another name with –ism attached to the end. Making someone feel ashamed of their body for whatever reason IS body shaming.
If you’re a POC, we’re now talking about complexion, hair texture, or eye/nose/lip/face shape in addition to weight and body shape. Yes, I’m about to get super serious. This is literally the shortest history lesson you’ll ever read (that’s still informative).
It’s no secret that Black Americans (and other People of Color) are still treated as if we’re wrong for existing because of how we look. How overt the treatment is has changed (kind of) but it is far from over. This country was not exactly built on the acceptance of POC. So in addition to being forced to disregard their African names, cultures, traditions, and spiritual beliefs, our ancestors were conditioned to believe that something was wrong with them. Their black (or other) features were considered disgusting, ugly, vulgar, and worthless….and wrong. In contrast, European features were considered appealing, beautiful, wholesome, precious….and right. This is how we arrived at
How did this happen*? False Sense of Authority. In its most basic form:
Unlike the difference itself, you have a choice. You can choose NOT to get all, “I’m going to tell you how you should look because I DON’T LIKE HOW YOU LOOK!” Which brings me to the modern form:
Communication is great. Social media are great. The internet is great! I can research anything I want, find new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking and new people who think like I do. There’s very little you can’t do online to improve your life!
People who don’t normally have a voice can be heard. Views that aren’t widely expressed are put on display and up for discussion. People who normally wouldn’t come in contact with each other are literally a click away from one another. Do you see how that can also be a bad thing? Especially with all this False Sense of Authority running around?
In this post, I listed all the ways I don’t fit into “that one standard of beauty” and I ended it with “I’m black and I’m a woman.” I GOT REASONS FOR THAT!
1. Most POC don’t fit. That’s the point. False Sense of Authority isn’t about being inclusionary. It’s all like, “Something is different about you and it makes me uncomfortable. I’ve decided that different is wrong. You should be ashamed for being different! I don’t want to understand your or accept you. I want to put as much space between us as possible. YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!”
2. I’m not ashamed. False Sense of Authority is not really here for self-love. It’s here for, “You’re different! How dare you be proud of it! How dare you think it’s a good thing! I will do everything within my power to make you regret the day you thought you were allowed to be happy, so help me God! YOU CAN’T BE HAPPY ABOUT NOT SITTING WITH US!”
3. I don’t use my traits to put down others. I realize that some traits aren’t necessarily race-specific, everyone doesn’t. All of our ancestors didn’t fall victim (mentally). And Praise God for them! This allowed for some people to have a safe place to embrace their own definition of beauty. But then False Sense of Authority rolls up to the spot like, “Well I’ve always been proud to be different! What’s wrong with you? Why do you want to look like them? You think you’re better? You think they want you now? You must really hate yourself! Oh, you don’t? Let me tell you all the reasons you should. YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US OR THEM! WHERE YOU THINK YOU GON SIT NOW?!!!”
A. In this post, I talked about people being able to work together to help each other grow. You’re definitely not benefiting from anything they have to offer if you’re shaming them.
B. Twitter is good for helping people ruin their own lives. The stories of white people sharing offensive thoughts and getting fired is pretty well-known. Here’s another (true) story about a young, black woman who worked in HR. False Sense of Authority had her thinking it was okay to judge folks’ job performance based on their name*** (and share it on Twitter). In just a few hours, folks had found her full name and other social media accounts, including LinkedIn. Last I heard, she did lose her job. You might be talking your way out of opportunity. Think about who can see/hear what you say.
C. Do you have your own set of life experiences where people tried to make you feel worthless? Did they stick with you? Making others feel the pain you feel is not going to make it go away.
D. To piggyback off #3, people are not trying to hear your problems. People go their entire lives believing they don’t deserve to be loved (or even seen) because of their appearance. People have literally died bout this shit. Think about how many people you’ve known (or witnessed) lose weight only to turn around and attack everybody who looks how they used to. They were able to lose the weight but weren’t able to heal the pain attached to it. They’re clearly hurting but let’s be real, how likely are we to go to them and offer help? I know I’m not about to try to help someone after that person tried to make my life (or the lives of others like me) hell. People are not going to be willing to help you.
My goal is not to send anyone on a guilt trip. But I believe that false sense of authority is some folks’ way of showing that they are weak in certain aspects of their own life. Maybe they’ve had their own experiences with being devalued. Maybe they can’t accept things about themselves….I’ll get into that next week!
How has false sense of authority presented itself in your life? Was it by you or towards you? How did you feel immediately afterwards? How do you feel now? Let me know in the comments.
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*You know what’s most interesting to me about “That One Standard of Beauty”? How few white people even fit into it.
** ‘In this instance’ refers to the purpose of the blog. I personally thing all oppression hurts everyone involved. Imagine all the things we’d know if people worked together throughout history rather than trying to “one up” each other in the worse way possible.
***The girl who tweeted all this coincidentally had an atypical spelling of a common name. O_o