Tag Archives: Size & Race

How People See You When You’re Big and Black…

I’ve had some thoughts whirling around in my head over the past week and I’m going to attempt to share them here… hopefully what I’m trying to say makes sense. I just really think its important to remember that biases and prejudices don’t always show up in the form of a disgusting act that makes the news. Sometimes those things are found in the everyday ways that we treat people. And maybe if we were a little more mindful, we would treat people better.

As I watched the footage of Eric Garner’s murder I started thinking about my experiences at the intersection of size prejudice and racial prejudice. Some of you may identify with some or all of my experiences, some of you may have no idea what I’m talking about and that’s totally fine.

I’m big, I’m black and I’ve become well aware of how those things shape the way people see me, what they assume about me and how they treat me.

on being big and black 2

On Being Big…

My first vivid memories of body shame came in fourth grade. At nine years old, I was both tall and chubby and that year for whatever reason, at recess kids in my class were constantly jumping on my back for piggy back rides without my permission, I guess they assumed I could handle their weight. They thought it was fun, I hated it.

One day we all filed into our cafetorium for a music assembly. As I sat giggling with my friends, a smaller girl from my class complained to the teacher that she could not see anything because she was sitting behind me. My teacher promptly instructed me to sit in the very back, behind all of the other students so that they could see the show. I sat in the back row alone, put my head down and cried.

Between the piggy back rides at recess and being sent to the back row, the body shame began to set in. I felt like I was being punished for my size. Now that I’m older, I wonder why the teacher didn’t move the smaller girl to the front row, instead of banishing me all the way to the back.

On being black…

I went to a predominantly white school and I’m pretty sure I spent all of third grade being racially profiled by my teacher. As an eight year old, it was hard to understand why Mrs. [Redacted] was always Continue reading

I’m Sorry!

If someone offends me, I write about it here… and if I offend someone I think I should write about it here too.

I’m not afraid to talk about race, which is why there’s a “size & race” category on this blog, but last week I made a comment in the comments section of a post that came off way wrong. I’m not sure how many of you saw the comment, but I want to make sure all of you see my apology for it.

When I respond to your comments, I may not write long responses to you because for me our exchanges feel like I’m chatting with friends. I’m also realizing that maybe I don’t explain things that need explanation and that’s what happened last week during this interaction:
Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 6.23.58 PM

I was responding to everyone’s comments on the post. When I got to that comment and wrote “all of your assumptions are correct” I meant that the lady was Asian (which she was) and that she isn’t very PC (which she isn’t. She’s constantly saying awkward things to customers… the “you’re too big to fit in the bathroom” incident was just my turn). Unfortunately, I didn’t elaborate on my thoughts which made me come off like a jerk. I was typing quickly and didn’t think that confirming “all” of the assumptions in the comment would confirm multiple things that were offensive.

I reread the blog post and oddly enough I didn’t mention the nail lady’s race at all, probably because to me it isn’t relevant. I hate that my response to that comment shifted the focus from my weight to her race because that was not my intention at all.

I’m a woman, I’m black and I’m fat so I definitely know how frustrating it is to be stereotyped. Thanks to @PurpleOrchid and @Marchesa, the two commenters who called me out on my response. I would have had no idea that my comment was coming off racist/prejudice if you ladies hadn’t said something.

I want to say loud and clear that my I’m sorry.

xoxo,

CeCe

 

He Called Me “Precious” …Thoughts???

This past Saturday I was standing on the corner of South and 4th streets in Philadelphia after seeing a fabulous concert with my sister. I felt comfy/cute in a cozy pink sweater, black mini-skirt and knee high suede boots. While attempting to hail a cab back to our hotel, a car full of people sailed past us and a voice cried “Heyyyyy Precious!” from the back window.

He was talking to me.

(If you don’t know who/what Precious is you can read up on the movie here and get images of the actress who plays Precious here).

In the spirit of everything that we talk about here on TBGB; loving ourselves, knowing that our weight doesn’t define us, etc. I’d love to say that I shrugged the comment off and went about my night, but my skin isn’t that thick yet, I’m still growing up. Being called “Precious” annoyed me to no end. A huge part of my annoyance was with myself for allowing the “Precious” comment to hurt me in the first place. Once I calmed down, I knew I had to process the insult from both directions. 1.) Why is calling a girl “Precious” proper ammunition for hurtful verbal assault? 2.) Why does being called “Precious” feel like hurtful verbal assault?

I find it interesting that people rarely refer to the actress who played Precious by her actual name, Gabourey Sidibe, instead they always call her “Precious”. Do we call Halle Berry “Catwoman”, “Monsters Ball”, or “B.A.P.S.”? No, we don’t. So why do we insist on calling Gabourey “Precious”? and why do we insist on calling fat girls with dark skin Precious… it’s clearly a punchline for many people, but why?

I actually have a lot in common with Gabourey Sidibe, we’re both big girls with dark skin, we both enjoy acting/performing, we’re both New York based, we’re both a little quirky… so if you said “Hey Gabourey!” I could see the similarities and go about my day.

Being called Precious is something different– Precious is a tragic character on many levels and her weight/eating is an outward reflection of the characters deeper issues. On a more superficial level, for many people “Precious” is synonymous with “Big Black Girl with Dark skin”. Some people might think of being big with dark skin as a double negative (fat is considered an undesirable state for most people, and in the African-American community, having dark skin can also be seen as undesirable). So they hurl the “Precious” insult at girls like me to address those characteristics. Lucky for me, I love my chocolate complexion and I stopped shedding tears about my size a long time ago, so those things are not what hurt me.

The more I think about it, when I hear Precious my mind goes to that scene in the movie when she’s running down the street eating a huge bucket of fried chicken. I think that’s what I find insulting.

I frustrates me that no matter how dolled up I get, no matter how cute my clothes are, no matter how fierce my makeup is… some people will look at me and immediately see a big black girl running down the street eating a bucket of KFC.

I’m sure I’m not the first Plus Size Princess to be called “Precious” and the issues I’m raising will take more than one little blog post from me to be explored, but I just thought I’d mention what happened to me because I found all the dynamics around it pretty fascinating.

Feel free to offer comments in the section below… thoughts???

Interracial Dating… (Part One)

Hi CeCe,
I’m not a PSP but I have a friend who is, and she showed me your blog. You come of as very kind and beautiful person in your blog and even us skinnies can relate to a lot of the things you say in your posts. 🙂 I really like your upbeat attitude.

I have a question: Are you and Robert of the same ethnicity? I’m Indian and I generally don’t date within my own ethnicity..like I’ve dated a lot of European guys, and you said in your blog that you don’t care about ethnicity either.

If you aren’t of the same ethnicity, are there complications that come up there? Just curious for your say on the topic.

Take Care,
 DC

Hi DC,

I know there are some skinnies like you out there who read TBGB, I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to write to me! I love hearing from readers of all sizes, so this is great. To answer your question: Robert and I are both black, but as you know I am “down with the swirl” and have dated guys of all races. If there was a passport for dating, I’d have a stamp from every country by now….

In my experience, yes there are complications that come from interracial dating, but if you’re okay with doing a little extra work its nothing you can’t get through. As we discovered in the “Size & Race” series we’ve got going, race a complex topic, so I’m going to answer your questions in three parts: Public, Private and Family.

Public: In my experience, interracial dating will give you a rude awakening that people aren’t as liberal/progressive as we assume they are. Living in NYC, I thought that the diversity of this city and being in a diverse couple would go hand in hand. Not so much…

One of the first guys I dated in the city was a blond haired, blue eyed boy who could have stepped out of the pages of Tiger Beat. One night after a movie, we were standing on the train platform being all couply/cuddly. He had his jacket open and I had my arms around his waist inside of it as we waited for the train. We were cuddling in silence, when he whispered in my ear “everyone is staring at us”. I pulled away from him, and saw all of the middle-aged white upper west siders in the 72nd street station looking down their noses at us.

A few months later, we were riding the train in the Bronx. Our train car was empty and we sat together in the far corner, my legs draped over his (clearly we were a very touchy-feely duo). A group of subway workers finishing a shift got onto our train, they were all black. They gave us a once-over glance and then one of them broke away from the group, walked to where I was sitting with my boy and said to me “take your legs off of him, right now”. In my naiveté I thought it was a train safety concern, but the look of disdain on his and his coworkers faces quickly told me that they just didn’t want to see a brown girl like me cuddled up with a white boy.

Those were pretty extreme experiences, but even the day-to-day stares that we would get when we were together was enough to drive you crazy… if we let it.

When it comes to dating outside your race, my experience is that you both have to be each others advocates and protectors. You have to advocate and protect each other and yourselves as a couple because outside opinions from the public will come out and it wont always be pretty.

Even though race isn’t important to me, I understand that it’s an issue of importance in today’s world.

The awkward parts of interracial dating can put you and your boo in difficult spots from time to time, but it can also make you a super strong couple, because in some ways it’s the two of you against the world.

Next week, we’ll discuss the “Private” element of interracial dating.

Have any of YOU dated outside your race? Had any good/bad experiences?