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It’s time We Stop Policing Black Women’s Bodies

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Group of black women sitting and standing

Despite advances made from the Body Positivity movement, some individuals continue to feel the need to hold conversations about the female body, especially regarding those of color.

Social media's influence has been questionable when it comes to the representation of Black women and their physique. It remains a significant problem within the Black and Brown community, especially when these standards come from mostly white influencers and celebrities who have consistently been praised for their curvaceous bodies. The opposite of the treatment received by Black women. There are multiple examples of curvaceous white bodies being revered, while Black women who are of a similar size and body type are ridiculed.

Historically speaking, Black women have been consistently demeaned, humiliated, and misrepresented in film and especially media platforms, as unattractive and hypersexual. When it comes to body image, Black women are rarely afforded the opportunity to be our authentic selves, as beauty standards are inherently cloaked in whiteness.

Throughout history, there has been far too much deliberation about women’s bodies, with the severity and scrutiny heightened for Black women. One only has to look at the way actress Gabourey Sidibe has been publicly disrespected time and time again. The policing of the Black woman’s body has also happened to Serena Williams, Misty Copeland, Caster Semenya and countless others.

As Black women, we should not need to defend our right to live peacefully in the skin and body we are born in nor should any woman be subjected to harassment or humiliation for their body shape. It's time to stop policing Black women’s bodies.

While people within the body positivity community have to deal with gender equality and size equality, Black women have to deal with the above, as well as race equality and colourism. Which means it's so important to include all bodies, regardless of colour, and to give a voice to those who are not represented fairly.

Body positivity means accepting our body as it is. It means seeing our physical self as worthy: worthy of love, of existing, of being valued as much as the next body. It is radical self-love in the face of narrow beauty ideals.

Whether or not social media celebrates or demeanes Black bodies, what matters most is how we view ourselves. We control the narrative of our own bodies.

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