Feminists, Focus On Black Women Dying From Illegal Injections, Not Convincing Instagram To Let You Show Your Nipples

Feminists, Focus On Black Women Dying From Illegal Injections, Not Convincing Instagram To Let You Show Your Nipples

Why aren't more feminists talking about this? Why isn't the idea that Black women are supposed to be thick and curvy being widely challenged?

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There is one thing, in particular, that is most responsible for how people view themselves and what they deem "attractive," "trendy," or "stylish": the media. We look to the fashion, beauty, and entertainment industries to set the standards, and to entertainers and public figures to uphold them. Over the entirety of human existence, beauty standards have warped and changed so much to the point they become almost unrecognizable from era to era. In our present era, women's bodies are held to impossible, even outright dangerous, standards.

At one point in time, women were heralded for being heavyset. More meat on their bones signified wealth and luxury. Soon, however, things went in the opposite direction.

In the '60s, the era of hippies and rebellion, women were ditching the conservative and overly elaborate fashion choices of the '50s for more revealing and simplistic choices, which led to a greater emphasis on being thin.

Mini skirts became widely popular in the '60s. Source

Taking it to the extreme, in the mid-1990s, looking gaunt and tired was all the rage. Coined "heroin chic," looking rail-thin was popularized by the fashion industry, through models such as Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss, who wanted to reflect the drug addiction problem rampant in the U.S.

Kate Moss, 5'7", at only 100 lbs.Source

Any person would assume, based on the trends throughout history, that now we'd be in an era where thinness bordering on anorexic and sudden death would be popular now. But, that couldn't be further from the truth. It seems as though the media has stopped fixating on thinness and instead wants us to get "thiccer" — in the right places.

"Why is that?" you might ask. Well, insert celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, and you get a recipe for beauty standard disaster. When these women first stepped onto the scene, they were like unicorns. They had a body type that was not common in the mainstream media. They were thin, but they also had a lot of ass behind them. In fact, Kim Kardashian was boosted to stardom simply over that fact (which was brought to attention by a very popular tape directed by Ray J).

Now, notice I said mainstream media and not media in general. In the hip-hop community and Black community in general, it's always been about ass. Video vixens found in rap videos always had large rear-ends, while in Black movies/tv shows, the actresses were slightly thinner, but still had an apple bottom. Black men have always desired a full bottom. In our community, having a big butt was nothing extraordinary or impressive. It was just the norm.

On a White (or racially ambiguous) girl, however, it was iconic.

Right, John?Giphy

The mainstream media was fascinated with the idea of ditching the antiquated idea of thinness and embracing it with "thick in the right places." For the first time, the question, "Does my butt look big?" was asked with a hopeful lilt, instead of in fear of looking chunky. For the first time, having a big ass and thighs was marketable. Can you guess why?

Bingo! You guessed it. Black men.

Okay, technically it was a mixture of Black men boosting up non-Black women and the media's knack to profit off of Blackness, but Black men are more to blame.

Just hear me out for a second.

When J-Lo first stepped on the scene, which community did she gain fame among first? The Black community. (Remember how she was "Jenny from The Block" and dated multiple rappers? She even started out as a backup dancer on a Black tv show.) When Kim Kardashian first stepped onto the scene, which type of men helped boost her reputation? Black men. (To be fair, that's the only type of men she was interested in as well). They helped to garner attention to these women (which is not bad, I'm not bashing them) and the media ran with it.

Just like with Black men, the wider mainstream audience saw these exotic-looking women as the new-age epitome of beauty. They were perfect to usher in the new era of beauty because they took old ideals (typical European standards, like a straight nose; long, straight hair; light skin, etc.) and fused it with "foreign" attributes. (I should also note that Black women like Nicki Minaj and '"Bootylicious" queen Beyonce helped to usher in this new trend as well, but they uphold many European standards of beauty, which makes it easier for them to be seen as desirable).

And this is becoming a serious problem for women, but especially Black women, whose identity is threatened by this new trend.

Natural booties are not appreciated anymore, not even the ones that are nicely shaped and full. This trend has warped into some grotesque contest for who can have the biggest, most overwhelming rear-end.

As women see these celebrities — with ample money to fund their cosmetic procedures because those asses are not real, raise the bar and continue to make their butts bigger and bigger, they feel more pressured than ever to keep up. Having a normal sized, plump booty just isn't good enough, which pushes many women to seek out additional help through plastic surgery. And in more cases than it should be, the plastic surgery is done illegally using "butt injections" through the black market.

International rap star Cardi B even admits to getting illegal butt injections: "It was the craziest pain ever. I felt like I was gonna pass out. I felt a little dizzy. And it leaks for, like, five days... somebody died on [the black market doctor's] table."

This new fad is problematic in and of itself, but when we take a look at a marginalized group such as Black women, we see that they are more at risk and more severally harmed by these dangers. For the longest time, Black women's identities have revolved around their bodies. It's in our music. Every rapper talks about big booties. And it's part of our culture. Being "cornbread-fed," or thick, is something that Black women have felt has been exclusively specific to us and our body types (except for Latinas... they can get pretty thick as well) for as long as we can remember. Take a look at Sarah Baartman, a South African woman that was captured and toured around as part of a freakshow expedition due to her large buttocks.

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Black women (and men, even) have been fetishized and oversexualized for our bodies for centuries. It should be no surprise that we have adapted to place a significant amount of emphasis on this aspect of ourselves. It can be a source of pride (in a warped way), but also a source of shame. For Black women who are not naturally thick, we can feel less than, as though we're not "Black enough" or something. Trust me, I know how silly it sounds, but it's actually a real issue. Skinny Black girls with no ass often question what went wrong with their genes. Being built like a "White girl" is something feared in the Black community.

When we feel our identities are threatened, we do anything to preserve it, which leads us back to one of the many dangers facing Black women of this generation. Experiencing higher rates of poverty, many Black women don't have money to shell out thousands of dollars on a Brazilian butt lift. Instead, they choose to go for the much cheaper, but much more dangerous alternative: illegal butt injections. Some women have died, like Ranika Hill, 25, and Symone Marie Jones, only 19, while others have been left permanently scarred.

The injections are often administered in unsterile and unsafe environments, or may be filled with dangerous substances, like cooking oil. The prevalence of these procedures is actually much more common than people think, but not much is being done to stop or prevent this practice. Aside from a few news channels doing reports on this phenomenon, not much else has been said.

As an intersectional feminist, I see the need for more awareness to be brought onto this subject, and other feminists should as well. The problem with mainstream feminism is that they are not fighting for women's rights or shedding light onto women's issues. They are fighting for some (mainly White, middle-class) women's rights and shedding light onto some women's issues. Call me crazy, but I don't think not being able to post your nipple on Instagram is that big of an issue. Black women are dying due to the pressure to feel desired and accepted by their community and larger society, the pressure of which is mainly fueled by male supremacy. So why aren't more feminists talking about this? Why isn't the idea that Black women are supposed to be thick and curvy being widely challenged?

For feminists, body image is always a topic of conversation, but the way body image is shaped by personal experiences and identities is almost never addressed. For instance, White women are more prone to anorexia than Latina or African-American women, who are more prone to overeating. As you can guess by now, this difference between the two groups is directly related to the difference in cultural experience. Mainstream feminism is concerned with body positivity, but only on a surface level. In fact, almost all mainstream feminist issues are only addressed on the surface level. For instance, the gender pay gap — yeah, there's a significant gap in how much men and women are paid, but there's also another gap between how much White and Asian women (Asian women actually make more than White women) are paid compared to Black and Latin women. When we fail to have these complex conversations, we miss out on rectifying key parts of the problem.

As feminists, we must do better, and always remember that in addition to our identity as women, we have identities as being Black, Latina, Afghan, lesbian, poor, disabled, etc. and that if we want to fight for women, we have to fight for all women.

Cover Image Credit:

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Independence Should Not Take Away A Woman's Femininity

Why is it that when a woman is extremely independent, it automatically cancels out her sensitive and gentle side?

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There is a running joke in my friend group about how I am the dominant person in relationships, and that I intimidate guys who are interested in me. If I am being completely honest, it is true.

I have a very strong and independent personality. I'm not a fan of people doing things for me that I feel I can do myself, like put together furniture or check the oil in my car. I ask my father to teach me how to do these things all the time, not because I plan to be single for the rest of my life, but because I don't like to depend on anyone to do things for me.

So why is it that this type of independence gets interpreted as "too manly" or unattractive? I completely understand that men are supposed to provide for and protect their families. In fact, I encourage all men to make that their goal when it comes to taking care of their family. What I don't understand is why that means women should dumb down their abilities to make the man feel superior.

Now don't get me wrong. When it comes to things like taking out the trash or changing a tire, yes, of course I would want my man to do it. All I'm saying is that it is okay for women to know how or want to do things on their own.

Another thing I notice is that women are expected to be emotional and wear our hearts on our sleeves.

That's not fair.

Anyone who knows me knows I am far from emotional. I am not a crier. I will not be in my feelings if we don't talk for a day. I don't like to talk about my personal life. I am just a very private person in general. Therefore, it is easy for me to keep my emotions out of things and not get attached to people.

These traits are too often considered "male traits." But there are plenty of women in the world who share these traits as well. It just means we need to be loved and cared for in a different way. This also means we need significant others who know how to respect, talk to, and deal with strong-minded individuals such as ourselves.

At the end of the day, everyone is different and has their own preferences and ideas. I just think strong independent women should not be stripped of their femininity because they can do a "man's job" better than a man can. Independent women need love too!

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