Content Warning: This story includes references to sexual assault.
Black women’s bodies are fashionable these days. “Brazilian butt lifts” are at an all-time high, even though they’re an extremely dangerous form of cosmetic surgery. “Shapewear” sales are skyrocketing. But this obsession with curves has a long, dangerous history.
The first time white men saw Black women, they apparently lost their minds. The way our people dressed to survive in hot weather both excited and appalled white explorers.
So what does this have to do with how Black women’s bodies are viewed today?
Colonizers imposed their own cultural hang-ups on Africans, describing Black culture as “highly sexual” – well before the slave trade.
“Exotic,” “topless” Black women with “hot” natures were so appealing, they even traded postcards featuring nude, often VERY young, African women!
During enslavement, the more children an enslaved woman produced, the wealthier her white captors became. This justified treating Black women like animals for breeding, and encouraged the rape of Black women. Many enslaved Black women were even trafficked specifically for sex.
Despite their obsessions, Black women are MUCH more than the shape of their bodies. The roots of this objectification are deeply connected to racial prejudice.
The bottom line is that our bodies belong to us and nobody should feel pressured to conform to some white supremacist stereotype!