Thick and Proud | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Thick and Proud

Possessing a full-figured body isn't something women regularly celebrate. Why would we? This society has taught us from pre-adolescence that if you're not a size 4, you're unattractive. The most celebrated beauties of our time aren't plus sized. Magazine covers don't feature full-bodied beauties.

We have been led to believe that if you are not the size of Mila Kunis, we need to work toward getting there. If we are the size of Jill Scott or Queen Latifah, our skills better be extraordinary for anyone to overlook our size. Even then, we are an exception to the rule. Those women can barely get through a feature-story interview without being asked: "How do you feel about being a plus-size woman?" Or, the inevitable statement, "She's beautiful--for a full-figured woman," as if we must be categorized differently from the other women of the world who are truly beautiful.

Not only is that a big bunch of crap, but those attitudes have created a web of self-doubt and uncertainty in full-figured women that prevents us from self-love and appreciation.

As life has become as familiar with me as I have with it, I have learned to accept who I am and love the idea that I am not a stick figure. I love the fact that when I turn sideways to the mirror, I see curves instead of straight past my own body. I have grown to appreciate the fact that my hips dance when I walk. I have learned to accept that I can't go into a store and buy off the rack without taking a moment to try on the items. I'm cool with that, now.

For most of my life, I was embarrassed at my mirror's reflection; I believed that I should be ashamed of myself for looking the way I looked. I did not feel beautiful, and that lead to self-doubt, self-pity and self-hatred. Then I began to be angry and scornful.

Today, though, no one dictates my beauty or my worth. Only I can do that. My husband, as much as his opinion matters to me, couldn't convince me that I am not a stunning piece of work. I refuse to allow any man, woman or magazine tell me that because I happen to be shopping in a part of the store hugely labeled "Plus Size" that I am not fit to adorn their covers or be featured on their runways or in their fashion magazines. I will also not allow my sisters who have been plagued by this same daunting attitude to be swayed into this mindset either.

So, I've gathered some of my friends, and we've formed a full-framed power movement: Thick And Proud Sisters. We have come together to destroy the idea of beauty that society has imposed upon us. We have decided that this is an epidemic that has gone on long enough. It has ruined our relationships because we don't have the self-esteem to trust. It has conflicted with our career paths because we are not confident enough in our abilities to rise to challenges. It has torn apart friendships and sisterhoods because we are insecure and project that apprehension into our relationships with other women. It has dictated how we live our lives, and it must stop.

We must take back our lives, create our own place in society and announce: "We are thick, and we are proud." We must teach ourselves how to truly love who we are--which means learning how to treat our temples well. We must learn how to live healthy and encourage exercise--not as a punishment for failing to look like the stereotypical vision of perfection, but because we love ourselves enough to want to live full lives in healthy bodies.

We want to do this because we have children and dreams. We have goals to accomplish. Along with all of that, we are simply tired of being relegated to one spot that fits the world's opinions. From now on, we will create our own place by defining our own terms for beauty. We've allowed society to steal our joy, happiness and self-esteem for quite long enough.

Now it's time that we prove that just because our clothes are bigger than yours doesn't mean that we are not still fly. We are still stylish. We are still intelligent. We are still powerful. We are still career oriented. We are still sexy. We are still strong.

We are still women, and we 
are beautiful.

Funmi "Queen" Franklin is a word lover, poet and advocate for sisterhood. Queen has a weakness for reality shows and her puppy, Shaka.

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