This is the time of year I live for: when it gets warm enough to say sayonara to wool coats, sweaters, even my beloved boots, and switch them out for pretty sundresses, jumpers, and sandals.
I feel better in the summer. And if you ask me, I look better, too. My skin glows, my feet are cuter, my outfits are better.
But I do know my limitations. If I’ve been accepting every invitation to go out to eat and if I’ve been caving in far too often to my cravings for Chik-Fil-A (help me, Lord), I know I can’t come out the gate just wearing any ol’ thing. I know it’s going to take a little cutting back, a little exercise, a little self-discipline to get those extra winter pounds off so I can fit into my summer clothes — and look nice in them.
See, that last part is key. Sure, I could lay down on my bed and enlist my daughter to zip me into my ensembles. But for one, it’s uncomfortable and for two, I know I’m going to have a “what the hell was I thinking?” moment every time I walk past a plate glass window. No, thank you.
That’s just me, though. Every day, I see I’m in the minority when it comes to feeling that way. In one trip to the store, I saw a chick whose breasts were spilling out of the top of her too-small tank top, a girl whose booty cheeks were drooping from her itty-bitty shorts, and a woman my mama’s age in a jean skirt so small, I watched her thighs jostle for position as she walked. Whenever she took a step, I could see the dark spot where her legs had been rubbing together for only she knows how long.
Black women are famous for our confidence. But ladies, sometimes confidence can backfire on us. Part of the culprit behind this misplaced over-esteem is that we revel in our thickness. Sistas, for the most part, are not built to be skinny. We’ve got big legs and big booties and big chests and big hips and because that’s the prototype established by our ancestors, we take pride in being curvy. Our suffering from eating disorders is nowhere near the body hatred that our white counterparts experience. And that’s a good thing. I watch Intervention and my heart goes out to girls compromising their health — and wasting all that food — trying to be thin.
But baby, on the flip side, if you are a size 16, no amount of squeezing, pulling, tugging, yanking, or praying is going to make getting into a pair of size 10 shorts look good. Yet I see sisters strutting around all the time in clothes that are clearly from the junior section when they need to be front and center at Ashley Stewart. They’re parading around in baby tees with their tummies spilling over their waistbands, ready to verbally assassinate anybody who dares suggest it ain’t cute. But it’s not. I wouldn’t say it to some of their faces — hey, I’m a writer, not a streetfighter — but it’s not a good look.
Our confidence is one of the beautiful things about us. It shines through when we work a new hairstyle, a pair of shoes, or a presentation at the job. But it can darn sure betray us when we trick ourselves into thinking that squeezing into a smaller size makes that number so. It doesn’t. And in the end, we just end up shortchanging ourselves.