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It’s past time we end the visual dismemberment of women and our bodies.

Published 12/17/2020| Reading Time 2 mins 24 secs

By Autumn Brown, Managing Editor

Let me set the scene, after more than a year of consciously taking my fitness and health seriously, I’m told, “You’re too skinny. Guys like something to hold onto.”

Aht. Aht. Sir, who gave you the authority to speak on my physique?

Further, who said that my fitness goals had anything to do with a man, and what men want? 

Herein lies the problem; we claim to respect and believe women yet, women are spoken of in terms of property. 

The part that rattles me most is the assumption that I’d seriously consider my weight loss negatively. As if this man stating that my ass wasn’t fat enough was enough for me to reconsider both dress sizes I’d dropped. Further, his statement works to perpetuate this unrealistic standard of beauty that women, specifically black women, fall victim to.

No matter how big, small, athletic, or petite, a woman’s physique is not primarily meant for male pleasure.  

In what kind of society do men feel entitled to think women are here for their personal eye candy? While men may have an opinion, fine, that’s not my problem. The problem arises when they feel that they are allowed to express their views publicly in every circumstance.

In sum, who the f**k are you to make disparaging remarks about my body? More importantly, what gives any man the right to speak against women’s bodies? Women are not malleable objects on a pallet for men to beat into shape. 

If some men have nothing else, they have the audacity. The audacity to hypersexualize our bodies as if we’re their token ass and tits. Living in a world designed by and for a heterosexual male gaze, women are under constant scrutiny. Some men believe it is their right to openly, and often negatively, comment on our bodies.  

Such commentary actively projects the male fantasy upon the women, as if it is our sole purpose in life to transform into what the male flavor of the week is. Our bodies then become an object to be gazed at as well as a showpiece for display.  

Sexist social structures aimed at controlling women relegate us to a subordinate status of being; men act while women merely appear. Such a possessive nature upheld by the patriarchy continues to regard women as pieces of art with the sole purpose of being viewed, judged, and interpreted. 

Therefore, women’s bodies are rendered as social currency within a capitalistic society, which places greater value on how we look rather than how we feel. So despite my feeling proud, happy, and healthy due to my newfound love of health and fitness because my ass isn’t fat and I’ve lost inches around my hips, I’m supposed to feel worthless as a woman based on unrealistic expectations of womanhood and beauty.  

It’s past time we end the visual dismemberment of women and our bodies.

And to the men who have told me, “You’re too skinny,” “Don’t run it all off,” or “Black men are starting to date White women cause they be getting it in and growing their booties in the gym,” I’d like to say this: your entitlement to speak on my physique based on your whimsical fantasies of what women’s bodies should look like speaks more to how chauvinistic you are as a member of the male species.  

Further, I pray that your daughters are never subjected to the disgusting commentary you feel so obliged to communicate, putting down women’s bodies. And I sincerely hope your sons are not being raised to perpetuate this sexist cycle of the toxic male gaze and criticism of women’s bodies.

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...