“Oh, wow, Cheyenne! You look similar to Lizzo,” my classmate exclaimed as she adjusted her glasses. With a wry smile and folded arms, I agreed, realizing my affirmation of her “praise” would get her out of my face. I wrote it off as an remoted incident and continued about my day. Nonetheless, I seen that an increasing number of folks had been making the comparability, and after a stranger in a Fb group talked about that I “favored Lizzo,” I knew I needed to take a step again and unpack this conundrum. Did I actually, in truth, seem like her?
Placing on my investigative cap, I turned to all corners of the web, scouring for any indicators of resemblance. As a giant Lizzo fan myself, I observe her on each social media platform doable, so discovering materials to match to my very own was a cakewalk. I even went as far as to ballot my followers on my Instagram Tales as as to if or not we regarded alike, and unsurprisingly, the outcomes confirmed overwhelming help for us favoring each other. A few of my followers felt it essential to dissect our faces and inform me which options had been the identical. After the genetics lesson concluded, I closed my laptop computer and went again to the drafting board. I knew it was time to do some math, as a result of not one of the commentary I acquired was making sense.
Regardless of having a giant character and distinctive traits, I’ve at all times been in comparison with different Black femmes whose our bodies had been much like mine.
Lizzo actually has 99.9 % extra of a social media following than I do. She’s a grasp flutist, whereas I performed saxophone in my highschool’s live performance band. She will be able to sing, dance, and carry out with excessive vitality, and I am unable to even dream of attending a celebration with out conserving my knee braces in my purse. We’re not the identical. Then, all of the sudden, it dawned on me. It wasn’t about our uniqueness, regardless of these qualities being very apparent. It had all the things to do with the obvious observations of all of them: the truth that we had been each fats and Black.
As a fats, Black lady, I at all times felt that my existence was by no means solely my very own, and regardless of having a giant character and distinctive traits, I’ve at all times been in comparison with different Black femmes whose our bodies had been much like mine. All through my life, I used to be referred to as Raven-Symoné for my “intuitive spirit” and Mo’Nique for my “humorousness.” Not as soon as was I named as the only real proprietor of my identification.
The connection between the American public and Black ladies has at all times been one-sided. At a time once we thought the nation was on the verge of a political level of no return, Black ladies have, but once more, saved the day. To take it a step additional, fats, Black femmes have put in numerous hours to learn others, solely to obtain golf claps and Canva-generated social media graphics. Within the grander scheme of issues, our contributions to society have at all times been required however by no means honored, a vicious cycle that retains us each fetishized and feared on the identical time.
We, as larger-bodied folks, dwell on the dichotomous fringe of our existence the place standing up for ourselves is shunned and regarded extreme however dwelling and respiratory is the truest expression of confidence and bravado. Along with being praised for merely present as human beings, we’re plagued with comparisons to well-known individuals who occur to be fats and Black and basically crucified for any trace that we disagree.
Whereas coming to phrases with my very own experiences, I spoke with curve mannequin La’Shaunae, who mentioned they do not bear in mind a time when their existence wasn’t judged by others. They had been harassed for “being different and ‘bizarre,'” which had been items of their identification since childhood. On the identical time, they acquired unsolicited warnings about “dying earlier than 25” and why they should not be pleased with their fatness.
Influencer Ashleigh Nicole Tribble additionally mirrored on the numerous instances she has been in comparison with her contemporaries. “This occurs to me on a regular basis and has occurred since I used to be 13 years previous,” Tribble mentioned. “First it was Jennifer Hudson, then Oprah, then Queen Latifah. I, in fact, was referred to as Valuable and Rasputia as insults, and now I’m consistently being informed I ‘remind’ folks of and ‘seem like’ Lizzo.”
La’Shaunae’s record of comparisons consists of Peaches, Lizzo, and Tokyo Vainness. “I additionally grew up within the period of Valuable and Eddie Murphy in a fats swimsuit enjoying a sassy, fats, Black lady,” La’Shaunae mentioned. “I at all times bought these as ‘insults’ at school, and nonetheless now.” The references to Valuable weren’t as offensive as a result of La’Shaunae cherished Gabourey Sidibe, the Oscar-nominated actress behind the movie’s title character. Nonetheless, it was crystal clear that there was a bigger problem at hand.
By tokenizing fats, Black celebrities, society not solely locations a burden on them but in addition makes them the gold commonplace for what each fats, Black individual ought to be.
So I say to all y’all who’re misinformed or willfully ignorant: cease telling ladies that we seem like Lizzo, Valuable, or another well-known people or caricatures that y’all suppose now we have an affinity for based mostly on measurement and race. Fairly frankly, it is lazy, reductive, anti-Black, and fat-phobic, and it reveals how little folks truly know in regards to the intersections of fatness, Blackness, and womanhood and the constituents of this group.
By tokenizing fats, Black celebrities, society not solely locations a burden on them but in addition makes them the gold commonplace for what each fats, Black individual ought to be. The truth that it is largely entertainers being elected as a metric for this false sense of social acceptability reveals we’re nonetheless seen as strolling minstrel reveals — sources of leisure to mock and snicker at and never with — and because the mammy who’s endlessly indebted to the thankless work and servitude of others. Individuals sexualize and acceptable us for consumption, but we’re by no means given the ability to personal our magnificence and identification and dwell as our genuine selves.
It is actually exhausting dwelling within the shadow of another person, fetishized and but invisible, as Tribble famous. The general consensus is that being handled this manner is dehumanizing and annoying, and it takes away from the sweetness and individuality of fats, Black femmes. To anybody in our group who could also be studying this piece, know that I feel you and all fats, Black ladies are ethereal, necessary, and highly effective, and that regardless of the existence of those dangerous comparisons, they don’t invalidate our humanity and inimitable magnificence.