Size 14

When you read magazines, turn on your televisions, go shopping, you usually see womyn that look like this (look over to the left) or clothes that fit womyn that look like this (and slightly bigger).

The average size of the U.S. womyn is a size 14. A size 14. But yet we are bombarded with images of eerily thin womyn and are frustrated to even attempt to shop for a flattering pair of jeans. The mass media, fashion designers, and retailers seem to continue ignoring the larger population of womyn.

An article in the Los Angeles Times reported that 62% of American womyn are considered overweight. There’s nothing glamorous about this, health-wise, BUT why are we alienating these womyn? They have money, they need clothes too. It has been shown that full-figured womyn have stopped actively shopping and designers who try to take on larger sizes are eventually discouraged and do not follow through.

It’s no mystery as to why most womyn aren’t satisfied with their bodies. The media continuously picks at womyn with commercials of body-slimming supplements and “get thin quick” schemes. Womyn are  discouraged to shop because there are only a handful of stores that support sizes larger than an 8 or 10. And not to mention, the voluptuous stars that are dropping pounds by the second. There’s nothing wrong with exercising and eating healthy but a line is crossed once your motivation to change your body is the pressure of the mass media making you seem “weird.”

Thankfully some retailers and designer chains continue to support the average womyn: Lane Bryant, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Fashion Bug, Torrid, and Avenue. Even though this is nothing compared to the thousands of retailers and designer chains that cater to the almost non-existent population of womyn (no pun intended), they must be commended. The average womyn is usually forced to shop online where more sizes are offered. But this only becomes more frustrating due to the disadvantage of not being able to feel or try on the clothes. Oh, the alienation.

I guess my message here is to not be ashamed of your body because of what the media is trying to portray as “average.” Even though it may feel like it when you’re out in those boutiques or popular stores, you are not alone. Diet and exercise because it will make YOU feel better about yourself and/or keep you healthier. Don’t do it because the media says you don’t belong. ALL womyn are beautiful, every shape and size.

So I’m a Whore?

Let’s take a look at a couple of scenarios:

(1) A boy, 14-15 years old, becomes sexually active. Most people will not be outraged, instead they will chalk it up to “puberty” and the natural ways of life. A young girl, same age range, becomes sexually active. It’s no longer puberty. Instead, there’s something wrong with this girl. It must be her environment, group of friends, how she was raised, or the media influencing this behavior. (2)A young, middle-aged man likes to have sex with a variety of womyn. To his male friends, he’s “the man.” To womyn, he’s just “being a man.” A young, middle-aged womyn likes to have sex with a variety of men. To men and womyn: She doesn’t value her body, she’s not worthy of respect, she’s a WHORE.

Since before Christ (yes, I believe it has been a problem that long), the double standard of sexuality has been an issue. Womyn are continuously taught to suppress their sexual needs, to suppress themselves. Human beings are naturally sexual beings, yet womyn are taught to suppress something so natural. This “double standard” applies to many aspects of a womyn’s sexuality. We shouldn’t have sex before marriage. We shouldn’t sleep with a multiple amount of men. We shouldn’t broadcast our sexual needs or be open with talking about them. But men are allowed all of the above with no objections from society.

I can’t say that this double standard is supported by only men. Womyn have a strong influence on it also. We are quick (and I’ve been guilty of it too) to judge a womyn based on her sexual history. A womyn in a sex tape, such as Kim Kardashian, is perceived as slutty because she allowed the taping. But what about Ray-J? Why is he not degraded for being a part of it, for filming it?

About two weeks ago on Twitter, I was inspired to write this post. A young girl (whose name I will not disclose to prevent more views of the video), about the age of 14, was filmed by a classmate performing oral sex on another classmate. The video quickly went viral and sparked a frenzy of vile and obscene comments. Most of my followers were bashing the young girl. Basically, her “morals” were in question. But no one took the time out to think about the two young men involved. There was a boy filming it and another boy involved in the sexual act. What about their morals? They’re just as “guilty.”

I am not an advocate of people this young engaging in sexual intercourse but the truth is, it’s happening. We can’t bash one sex. We shouldn’t be bashing anyone! We can only plan to educate young people.

The double standard seems to be so imprinted in our brains. I find myself encouraging it and having to step back and rethink. Men enjoy sex, womyn enjoy sex. Let’s get over that.

New vs. Traditional

So, as I sat in my University’s café, I overheard a conversation…

Attractive Womyn: You’re so cute; Attractive Man: Thank you (blushing); AW: You should let me buy you a coffee or something; AM: No thank you, I already had some (continues blushing)…

The convo continued on with small talk and with the guy eventually turning her down because he had a girlfriend. This womyn clearly liked what she saw and was going in for the kill. I know some womyn still believe in the “traditional” rules of dating (if a man doesn’t approach me, it’s a lost cause), but I love when I see womyn take initiative. We’re only getting older, why NOT take the initiative?

In this day and age, womyn have become independent in every aspect. We work, take care of our children, take care of our houses, attend school, pay bills, etc. So, why can’t we be independent in the dating world? Men are increasingly becoming more afraid of rejection. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from friends, “He was staring at me the whole night but didn’t say anything!” I’ve said that a couple of times before too.

Men are expecting us to be more straightforward nowadays and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. This is not going to say that womyn should be straightforward ALL THE TIME. A man who is confident enough to step to a womyn correctly, never gets old. Also, if internet dating is your thing, so be it! Going out to meet men or being optimistic about meeting men during social events does get old. Do what makes you comfortable but be aware of the dangers.

Don’t get me wrong, I still do believe in some “traditional” rules. Men should always be chivalrous. A man who isn’t polite is a boy. Also, if the man initiated the date, I think it is right for him to pay the bill. With that said, when dating becomes more frequent with the same man, or becomes more than “dating,” there’s nothing wrong with going dutch. Womyn can and should pick up the bill sometimes.

We’re all in the search for our “soul mates,” right? Why not take some control of the search?

Truth

 

“I am more than what I look like, I am more than what I do.”

Before heading to work, I was able to sit down and enjoy the last of my Sunday afternoon watching a mini marathon of “Oprah’s Lifeclass.” For some of you who might not be familiar with the segment, Oprah sits and reflects on some of her best and most enlightening moments from her talk show.

Thankfully, I was able to catch her episode on the lesson of aging beautifully.

As a young girl, it became clear to Oprah that she did not fit into society’s idea of “pretty.” She was never called pretty by any of her peers until about the age of nine. She said that hearing it for the first time caused her to breakdown. She grew up defining herself in other ways, as smart, intelligent, a good speaker, etc.

Throughout her numerous interviews with beautiful TV personalities and models, Oprah felt she never received a truthful response when she asked her guests what the benefits were of being defined as a “pretty girl” by society. Long story short, Oprah received the answer she wanted in 2010 while interviewing Cybill Shepherd. And that answer was that being defined as “pretty” by society opened many doors and automatically came with privileges. Privileges that held “pretty girls” to a higher standard than other womyn. Cybill Shepherd, a former beauty queen and “it” girl of the 70s, knew that being defined as “pretty” by society contributed to many of her accomplishments. Many womyn try to uphold what society defines as “beautiful”or “pretty” but once natural processes, such as aging, take over, your definition of yourself becomes blurry.

Even though Oprah stated she understands the fear womyn face, she is blessed to never have felt the need to hold onto society’s definition of beautiful because she was never defined as such. She believes womyn need to cultivate a spiritual, meaningful life that brings you beyond the definition of “pretty.” She said it is “confusing” and “aggravating” to hear womyn lie about their age because they are blatantly denying the years that they have earned, the wisdom they have gained.

As Oprah stated, and as I also believe, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with taking care of yourself: exercising, eating healthy, wearing makeup, dressing stylish. But, once you find yourself living to the expectations of what others, or society, chooses to define as “pretty,” it becomes as issue.

“The understanding of who you are is necessary as you get older because as you begin to lose the external attraction, it is your true responsibility to cultivate an inner attraction.” (Oprah)

**Catch Oprah’s Lifeclass weeknights at 8/7c & live on Fridays at 9/8c**

Nobel Peace Prize 2011

LtoR: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkul Karman (Getty Images)

Almost two weeks ago, three womyn from the Middle East and Africa were jointly awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for their activism in womyn’s rights.

These three womyn were awarded the prize for their “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work (nobelprize.org).”

  • Leymah Gbowee- A resident of Liberia and a mother of five, Gbowee works in Ghana’s capital as the director of Women Peace and Security Network Africa. She is honored for her continuous campaigning against rape being used as a weapon against her womyn.
  • Tawakkul Karman- A mother of three has become known as the “Iron Woman, The Mother of Revolution, and The Spirit of the Yemeni Revolution” by her fellow protesters. Karman is a journalist and head of Women Journalists without Chains. She is also a member of the Islamic party Islan and was awarded the prize for her work as the leader of anti- government protests in Yemen.
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf- The first womyn to win a presidential election in Africa ran for re-election last Tuesday. Sirleaf became the president of Liberia in 2005. Sirleaf is seen as a peacemaker and reformer. (northjersey.com)

Some people speculate on the authenticity of the  Nobel Peace Prize being that Adolf Hitler was once nominated, even though he was not ultimately awarded the prize. Regardless of past nominees, I think it is monumental that womyn are being honored for their activist efforts. These three womyn show that perseverance and courage go a long way. This will inspire and motivate womyn across the world.

Afro- Latinas; Where Are You?

As a young Dominican girl, growing up watching Hispanic/Latino television with my family, one thing soon became clear, I hardly saw any Latinas that looked like me. And by me, I mean the brown-skin, curly-hair, curvaceous, “morenita” type. There was always the skinny, fair-skin, fine-hair type, but what about me, what about US?

I soon learned that “us” was the Afro- Latinas. The ones whose African roots were clearly visible through our traits. Today, I still continue to see the divide in our representation in Hispanic/Latino media AND American media. Popular Hispanic soap operas (novelas) never cast an Afro- Latina for a lead role. There aren’t any Afro- Latina newscasters and we are hardly represented in magazines. As a matter of fact, when Dominican and Puerto Rican actress Zoe Saldana was placed on the front cover of the September 2011 issue of Latina magazine, it was a big deal.

This is not only a problem in Hispanic/Latino media as I stated earlier, American media doesn’t give Afro- Latinas much credit either. Most Afro- Latinas are cast as African- Americans when they appear on American television shows or movies. Panamanian actress Melissa De Sousa, who starred in The Best Man and stars in the new show Reed Between the Lines, claims she had to “fight” to start being cast as an Afro- Latina after bringing up the topic to her agent (Latina.com). Her fight was worth it as she plays an Afro- Latina in Reed Between the Lines. She also stated that she felt it has become a mission of hers to represent Afro- Latinas after she received plenty of love and thanks from fans that could identify with her.

So why is there a misrepresentation of such a demographic? I think it stems from problems within the Hispanic culture. Many Latinos do not want to identify with their African roots, especially if they don’t look “African.” But for those of us who do share the qualities of our ancestors, we are quickly shunned as the “lesser” Latino/Latina. Our darker skin color and kinkier hair somehow becomes a measurement of our worth. Growing up, the black people in my neighborhood were called “morenos” and that usually carried a negative connotation: “Don’t hang out with the morenos. Morenos will get you in trouble.” But I was in turn called a “morenita” by fellow Dominicans and other Latinos, so was I also carrying that negative connotation?

I believe much of our disconnect with our African roots comes from a lack of education and an overload of ignorance. We are all African. We all have these roots and until we teach our youth to learn and appreciate their roots, there will always be a divide, within our communities and the media. An accurate understanding of the Hispanic/Latino race cannot be understood without taking a look into our African lineage. It cannot be ignored.

Pulitzer Prize- winning Dominican author, Junot Díaz, said it best, ““I was neither black enough for the black kids or Dominican enough for the Dominican kids. I didn’t have a safe category” (Fox News Latino).

Author’s note: This post is in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and the continuous struggle of my fellow Afro- Latinas. I love all my Latinos/Latinas!

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