A Battle With Body Dysmorphia

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Good Lord, I can’t believe how unhealthy I was. I’m 5’5 and probably weighed about 48kg in this pic. I had been hospitalized before for low blood sugar, but I couldn’t see the correlation between my ED and my flailing health.  I remember getting a DM of concern after I posted it, and it didn’t register at all. That’s the thing about body dysmorphia: you really don’t see yourself as you truly are.

I can’t remember a specific moment where the contentedness of youth gave way to the insecurities that have plagued me through adolescence and my nascent adulthood. However, I don’t remember *not* feeling fat. It was just something in my head – even in primary school. The older girls would host modeling contests for us, and I would feel so uncomfortable in my own skin.

The first step in my recovery was acknowledging I had a problem. The second was actually wanting to fix it. There hasn’t been a magic wand to just fix everything. It’s just been a matter of melting away the chains.

When I was at Tuks, I would experiment with the Master Cleanse and only drink lemon water for days on end. Is it an eating disorder if you’re fully functional? Maybe there’s still denialism in it. Maybe I’m still unwilling to acknowledge that I was willing to gamble my health in pursuit of some unknown goal.

I’m happier now. And healthier. Perhaps not content, but learning to love myself towards that goal, instead of using hate as the fuel.

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Contentedness

I often wonder how it must feel to be content in oneself.

Not happy or joyful, but at peace.

To love yourself. Completely. Absolutely.

A love that consumes you from the inside out. A love that radiates from your deepest abyss onto the surface of your skin.

A love that is unfettered to European beauty standards. A love that is not concerned with others’ perception.

A love that just is.

Content.

Whole.

Complete.

Unencumbered by the weight of the voices.

Unburdened by the albatross that is self-loathing.

Content.

“You can’t hate yourself into a version you can love,” they say.

I often wonder how you find that version you can love.

Is it hiding under society’s standards of what acceptability is?

Is it saying #bodypo quotes until I believe them?

If affirmation must be done daily, when will I really be content?

Complete.

Whole.

Happy.

Carefree black girl, I want to be one.

Ducking mirrors is my truth instead.

3 years away from 25, is a quarter century enough to find oneself?

Where does contentedness lie?

In love?

In truth?

In self. Self amidst the chaos.

That is my contentedness. That is the contentedness I pursue.

 

À mon avis

There is a misconception about what freedom of expression actually means; the delusion lies in the belief that it means one can be unfettered to say whatever, without recourse or opprobrium.

Freedom of expression means a government cannot censure you. Of course, the limits to this right are germane to the constitution of the specific state under whose jurisdiction you are in. Nevertheless, freedom of expression doesn’t inoculate you from repudiation.

We are afforded the right and privilege to express ourselves. You are entitled to your wrong opinion; calling it an opinion doesn’t make it exempt from scrutiny. The idea that a statement being an opinion is an inoculation against criticism is weak, and an exercise in the futile. The term “opinion” is a placeholder for fact or fallacy. If an opinion is informed, then it is simply factual. If an opinion is uninformed, then it should not exist.

 

Misogynoir

Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said “the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice.”  Half a century after his death, the arc may bend towards justice for some, but it curves all the way around to injustice for black women. The arc of our moral universe bends towards misogynoir.

 

Moya Bailey coined the phrase to describe prejudice towards black women. You see it in the way we are treated, especially by black men. That if the totem pole of acceptability must elevate their standing, we must remain at its bottom. Black men, who should understand how difficult it is to navigate a world that is not as welcoming to anyone who isn’t born white, male and straight, engage in the most bitter of misogyny towards their “sisters.” It goes beyond Kanye West’s line on Golddigger about a man  leaving you for a white girl once he gets his come up; it extends to our value in the workplace and society as a whole always being diminished.

Black men perpetuate misogynoir because it was never about equality for them: it was about assimilating into white patriarchy. Upholding rape culture and the various other violent methods of misogynoir – be it the hypersexualisation of black women, or the perpetuating of ugly stereotypes – is a means to an end: to keep black women underneath your boots.

Amber Rose created the “slut walk” to reclaim a word that’s been used to shame women for anything from using an Instagram filter, to being victims of sexual assault. Every year, countless women march with her to stand up to the misogynistic and abusive idea that any woman deserves to be sexually assaulted.

 

To promote the walk, she posted picture online, and as expected the swamp dwellers crawled out to shame her for daring to have autonomy over the body. I always find it ironic when ppl use the Bible to advocate shaming women.

 

In Matthew 18:9, Instead of telling women to “dress appropriately,” Jesus told men to avoid lust by plucking their eyes out.

 

To be Christian is to aspire to be like Christ. So instead of shaming women, why not address the men who abuse us?

Woman is the nigger of the world

For black women, we exist as black and as female in tandem. Racism is sexualized, while sexism is racialized.

 

We are victims of misogyny and misogynoir, too often by the black men we would bend over to protect. Malcolm X oncesaid the most disrespected person is the black woman. Decades have passed, and it is still true. But disrespect doesn’t fully encompass it; there’s scorn and hatred and enmity towards us that no demographic knows.

 

Anti-blackness, particularly among other people of colour, is reserved for black women. We don’t have a safe space even among black men, who spew vitriol towards us like they weren’t born of us. Hoteps claim to be about black emancipation, but what they really want is to subjugate black women and attain the privileges of white men.

 

Woman is the nigger of the world. Release us.

Your theory is my reality

When men talk about how scary prison would be, because they fear getting raped, while you as a woman live every single day in constant vigilance. The threat of sexual predation and assault aren’t abstract. You can’t even seek treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, because the onslaught never lets up. It is perpetually being unsafe in your own body,  and the debilitating knowledge that just because you can’t see a better, doesnt necessarily mean this is the worst of it.

 

When men talk about rape, it’s often not as an assault on the body and a violation of the senses, but as a joke because getting raped is so foreign to them. Rape is discussed in the abstract, as if 1 in 3 women have not had to live despite having their entire being violated. 1 in 3: a statistic that doesn’t take into account how many more survivors chose silence versus standing accused of being to blame.

 

 

Don’t

Don’t take a cab, you might get abducted and raped.
Don’t take a taxi, you might get abducted and raped.
Don’t drive, you might get hijacked and raped.
Don’t walk, someone might pull you into their car and rape you.
Don’t stay in the house, someone may break in and rape you.

I am just so tired of feeling unworthy of safety because I had the audacity to be born a woman.

Freedom of the Diaspora

This post was first published on connectedafrica.com

“Freedom is an endless horizon, and there are many roads that lead to it.” Shirley Chisholm understood that freedom was not a destination, but an infinite journey. The 1960’s came with the end of colonialism for most African countries, but decades later, are we really free? We are still beholden to Eurocentric standards of acceptability; the hegemonic idea of First World versus Third World Countries still persists; the International Criminal Court is used as a cudgel against African leaders while the war crimes of the West go ignored.
I would be remiss to not acknowledge that totalitarian and oppressive regimes cannot be ignored. However, there is a double standard. The ICC were prepared to arrest a sitting Head of State, Sudan president Omar al-Bashir when he was in the Republic of South Africa, yet the amorphously fought Iraqi War’s progenitors have never been indicted.

The Prosecutor of the ICC reported as early as February 2006 that he had received 240 communications in connection with the 2003 Iraqi invasion, which alleged that a plethora of war crimes had been committed. The overwhelming majority of these communications came from individuals and groups within the United States and the United Kingdom. Many of these complaints concerned the British participation in the invasion, as well as the alleged responsibility for “torture” or enhanced interrogation deaths while in detention in British-controlled areas. Granted, the United States is not a member of the ICC but the United Kingdom is.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair could very well be indicted given the invasion was against the United Nations. Surely this would give the ICC legitimacy and credence in the eyes of the rest of the world. As per Article 127 of the Rome Statute, South Africa and Burundi left the ICC this October. 90% of the states that the ICC has investigated are African countries. In 2009, there was en masse departure from the ICC by Senegal, Djibouti and Comoros; Kenya followed suit in 2013. Gambia has expressed intent to withdraw from the court.

Freedom cannot be attained in this commodity-driven world without financial emancipation. We need to abrogate the prevalent poverty on our beautiful continent.

Men are trash

 

This post was first published on connectedafrica.com

 

Men are trash. Before people come at me with pitchforks I would like to preempt any of your arguments to that truism. Primarily, before you say “not all men” please recognize that that is blatant gas-lighting – a means to derail conversation about the systematic abuse of women at the hands of men by trying to preclude yourself from it. It may not be all men who are abusers, but it is too many men. Way too many men. Too many men that enable the cycle of abuse to continue unfettered. Too few men who repudiate their peers.

Men are trash. Women are labeled as having “daddy issues” without the absent fathers being addressed. Family is society’s building block of the world in microcosm. Patriarchal systems indoctrinated us into viewing the men of our society as the paragons of leadership. No wonder the world is in such turmoil. Men are trash. I have an excellent relationship with my father, but that doesn’t negate the fact that men are trash. Before I was even pubescent, my dad taught me to always watch my drink, never accept an opened beverage, never drink directly from the can… all these lessons because he knew how trash men were. The reality is that upstanding fathers need to teach their daughters to avoid being raped because men are trash who cannot respect bodily autonomy.

Also read: Freedom is an endless horizon

Men are trash. Kenyan women, who have had to live life on a rape clock, have decided to take back their lives by learning martial arts to thwart would-be assailants. The lengths women must go to avoid being raped are flabbergasting. In 2016, we are lauding women for taking extraordinary measures to avoid being raped. The tragedy is that these women protect themselves, but it doesn’t solve the greater issue. It may deter the rapist from them, but what happens when he tries to rape the next women? Men are such trash that an initiative to curb rapes will just lead to rapists finding more innovative means to disregard a woman’s no.

Men are trash. A video has gone viral recently of a man on a bus beating another after he inappropriately touched a girl. While many may laud this turn of events, it is just a soupçon in combatting the sexual assault that women experience in public spaces. For no reason other than having the audacity to be born female, women are subjected to sexually inappropriate comments, unauthorized physical contact, sexual assault, rape and even murder, because men are trash. Men in suits, men in overalls; our parents’ friends, our friends’ parents; too many men who cling to being libertines because patriarchy protects them.