Reflections from the Woman with the Skinny Legs
One Thin Woman’s Hopeful Journey towards Cultural Acceptance
Skinny Legs And All – Joe Tex (Dial)1967
As a Black Woman who has been called skinny, bony, stick lady, po’ and various other negative names for years. I can understand wanting to fit in. I’ve actually had women especially Black women come up to me and tell me they hate me or call me some nasty names I won’t repeat. I remember gaining a lot of weight when I was in my 40s due to taking anti-depressants. Believe it or not I received tons of compliments from my African American co-workers.
Prior to my forties, when I was a young woman working in an office, co-workers would leave all types of cookies, cakes, snacks, even cans of Ensure telling me in a not so subtle way that I needed these foods to “fatten up” and become an accepted member of the tribe. If my weight suddenly ballooned to 195 lbs, something that is genetically impossible for me, but if those numbers did rise would my Black Woman Membership card arrive in the mail?
Right before I started work at my present job I stopped taking the anti-depressants. Of course I lost the weight. Sadness. Bullying from some female co-workers. One brother told me I had a body like a white woman. Someone else said I looked Asian. I love my Caucasian and Asian Sisters but like anyone else I want to be accepted by my own community. I want to fit in. Devastated. I cried myself to sleep many nights. I even tried to explain to my female co-workers that my thinness was due to genetics, which is true. My mother Mable Palmer never weighed more than 95 lbs in her life even after having kids.
BTW my mother had diabetes as does most of my family on my mother side. Many of my cousins my around my age, (I’m 54) have died from the disease. I had my own brush with death November 7, 2008 when I was rushed to the hospital from my job for extreme high blood pressure. To show you how brainwashed I was as I lay on the hospital gurney in the emergency hooked to a machine monitoring my pressure, my life passing before my eyes, I looked down at my thighs and felt shame because I was so thin!
Like most women I look like my mother. I carry her DNA. Also since I have high blood pressure I can no longer eat certain foods so that prevents me from gaining additional weight. I weigh about 117 or 120 depending. Am I a fat basher? No because I know from firsthand experience just how sensitive weight issues and the ensuing insults or assumptions can be. I want to know how my weight got to be a determination of how Black I am or how womanly I am.
Does everything depend on the size of a woman’s breasts or butt? Have I been banished to a leper colony of neo-Blackness? Is a woman not more than her body? When do we stop promoting the superficial and concentrate on substance. Sometimes I think my body type has made me an outcast. Does the fact that I’m slim make mean my membership in the African race has been revoked?
Eye of the Beholder
I’m not handing in my Black card just because my facial features and body structure are considered all wrong. Oh by the way does my dark skin and nappy hair get me reinstated to the Land of Negritude? Define Blackness! Does it not run deeper than the outside package?
Finally I confided in one of the African American supervisors what I was going through. He reassured me I looked fine and said I looked good. He explained to me that some of the females at our workplace were jealous.
Then after 50 I started gaining a little weight. Thank you Menopause for helping me enter the realm of semi-Rubenesque. I was received back into the fold, somewhat but I still get those funny looks and comments not only at work but even within my own ‘hood.’
Books with titles like “Skinny Women are Evil” do not help the situation. I hate that our patriarchal society has pitted one group of women against others even within our own race. So if I was stacked, voluptuous, a “brick house” would I then hear the Gooble Gobble song.
One of Us – We Accept Her
Okay you know that I was intrigued by this picture. Anything to add curves to my stick frame. I looked up Squat videos on YouTube and found one that “Looked easy.” Not!! As I was doing the squats I could hear my knees Snap, Crackle & Pop more than a bowl of Rice Krispies. Maybe I should forget the Donkey Booty and just stay a “Black Twiggy!”
This is a Squat video by a Colombian Sister. Really now it would just be much easier to be reincarnated into her body!! LOL!! OMG!! Isn’t there an easier way to snag a husband? If I click my heels together 3 times will my stomach fat move downward towards my butt or upward to my boobs?! Dang my knees are creaky and clicking more than Savion Glover tap dancing!
Still trying to return to the Summer of 42. Not 1942 because I wasn’t yet born but age 42 when I had a nice hourglass figure. So I’ve been planking since Dec. 1st and now I will add Squats to my program. Let’s see if all this exercise results in romance when I turn 55 in Feb.
I considered using one of my cats as weights but they would not cooperate and thought the better of that idea. Leave sleeping kitties lying on the bed. My cats already think I’m crazy for Planking. Now every morning Sylvester and Weezer take up a position in the Living Room watching me make a fool of myself and sometimes rubbing their little furry faces against mine.
The Journey Towards Self-Acceptance Continues