RaceSex & Gender

fuck your western standards: loving yourself as a brown woman is radical

October 18, 2017
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By Carolyn A. García*, AFROPUNK Contributor

Loving yourself as a brown woman is radical.

I grew up hating who I was. I was raised on anti-blackness, colorism, classism, and sexism. I grew up looking in the mirror prying my eyes open because I thought they looked too “beaner.” I hated my hair color, my skin color, my poverty, my language, and my mother for her broken English.

I grew up and began changing my body and performance to be more “white.”

I hated everything and everyone Mexican. I thought I was better because I read, because I drew, because I didn’t want kids, because I spoke a “better” English. I was the Moth from Chihuawhite. I sold out. I dated only white men for years, and adopted their identity. I listened to their music, watched their shows, dressed in their clothes, all while shitting on everything I had known all my life.

Then one day, at an all-white house party at UTSA, a young man asked me unprompted how many kids I had. I learned from that day that there exists a universal truth: you can’t escape yourself.

Over the years, I’ve developed a lot of hostility toward Western standards and ideals of beauty, behavior, knowledge, etc. I learned who the f*ck I am. And, little by little by little, began to embrace it.

I learned my history, my present, and my future. I learned that my self loathing was a result of centuries of European and American colonization on my people: the indigenous woman, the Chicana. I learned that makeup is an oppressive tool that seeks to hide us women, to belittle us and force us to compete with one another.

I learned that being thin is the same thing. That beauty itself is an archaic concept, and I am just complicit. That respectability politics is a sham and people will see me as a lowly Mexican with our without my tattoos. That capitalist exploitation of brown bodies both fetishizes and dehumanizes us. And that Catholicism and other Christian religions are yet another weapon against indigeneity by the European colonizers, and that the myth of purity is bullshit.

Women do not belong to men nor to god.

The drawing above is a manifestation of my frustrations. I am nude because I am an atheist and religious “modesty” can go f*ck itself. I have tattoos because my body’s a temple which worships roses and Mexicanness. I am not wearing makeup because I decided my monolid is beautiful and despite what Disney cartoons have led you to believe, you don’t need long eyelashes to be a woman.

I am not smiling because I am angry, an emotion I am entitled to feel, and for which I won’t apologize.

I’m wearing hoops, because until precious white women started wearing them, they were considered “ghetto,” like me and my neighborhood. And I didn’t draw feet or hands because they’re hard to draw and I don’t owe anyone anything.

This class is the most recent episode of years’ worth of realizations. I am grateful for this class, for women, and for Sandra Cisneros.

*Carolyn A. García is an artist and poet living in San Antonio, TX. Follow her on Twitter @malditasanta.