Decolonizing Beauty: why are fat bodies the subject of so much hate & controversy?
By Erin White
April 12, 2018
#DecolonizingBeauty is an ongoing photography project by visual artist Saddi Khali and yesterday when we posted one of his gorgeous images on Instagram, it was really clear that some of y’all really hate seeing fat bodies. A strange thing to focus on when we’re celebrating black love. “Being fat is unhealthy!” Wow, amazing. Surely you’re the first person to say that.
But for some, seeing the image gave them a rare opportunity to check their thoughts and perspectives about something shallow.
And the thing that pisses me off is that, in general, we as a society, have a problem with healthy consumption. Prescription drugs, weekends of shots, gross food, food-like products, chemicals in our soaps and lotions and toothpaste, cleaning products, plastics. People, most generally, aren’t concerned about how others treat their bodies until they can see and don’t like it. Healthy at any size be damned. If you’re fat in public, complete strangers make your fatness their business. Not because they know and care about you as a human-being, but because they’re uncomfortable with your body.
Mini experiment: go to your favorite alcohol brand’s Instagram account. Read the comments. Alcohol literally poisons the brain. Even consider the social stigma of alcohol addiction and abuse. Those things are practically baked into our society as issues that are glorified on tv, in movies, on the radio, everywhere.
This isn’t to say that unmonitored morbid obesity is “okay” for someone’s body. What I’m saying is that it’s none of your fucking business. Other people’s bodies have nothing to do with you. Nobody asked.
So, back to Saddi Khali’s #DecolonizingBeauty and why it’s called that. The idea of “colonizing” isn’t limited to white supremacy. It can also be used to describe the takeover of our psychological freewill, outside of ethnic identity, in the ways in which we view each other’s humanity. Fat people fall in love. Fat people fuck. Fat people even do those things with single people. And they deserve to.
“We live in a strange time, when any person of African descent can see images of Black folks in love, joy or peace and only see something negative,” Saddi Khali tells AFROPUNK. “I saw some of the yucky comments, and the bulk of them struck me as an ugly mix of internet bullying and attention-seeking. Miserable people, spreading their misery. I guarantee you, no happy person desires to make someone feel bad about how The Creator made them.
I wish we really recognized & critically examined our impulses, our habits, our intentions. Those negative assumptions and oppressive narratives we assign to different body types can be extremely destructive to our collective self-esteem. This is why work like my #decolonizingbeauty is important. Our perspectives need to be challenged. We need to learn to love ourselves, in all of our variety.”