India Arie might not be her hair but is she her body?: Image, facebook and Victoria’s secrets

It was at about 10:40pm on wednesday, our last dress rehearsal and the day before our first performance. Everyone was happy: The shiny bikinis and carnavale wings we had on were beautiful. Someone was so excited she shouted “OMG , WE LOOK LIKE VICTORIA SECRET ANGELS!” With my phone in my hand and a perfect mirror for the perfect instagram picture, I took a second or five minutes to think about my girlpower professor and how she lived her life.

Wednesday was a big deal but I have had so many of those moments because I constantly walk around with the words of Butler knocking hard into my brain or Lacan’s thesis writing itself all over the instagram pictures of my best friends. TURN IT OFFFFF!!…is something I never say but I cannot deny how overwhelming it is when I find myself in the middle of the greatest conflict of the 21st century.

You know that conflict, the one where I see my friend’s picture on facebook and I think oh wow she has gained weight but no woman should be judged for the size of her body but then again, we should take care of our health. Or, when I see my friend in this sexy crop top with her perfectly sculpted abs showing between the end of her shirt and the beginning of her very mini skirt (or belt considering the difference is often hard to spot) and I think, “WHOAA WOWWW SMOKINNN! Get me some butter to melt on those abs, oh wait, but she is showing her legs, and her midriff, why? to get sexual attention from males?…oh no… that means she is objectifying herself through that uncomfortably tight, short skirt, but then again, there was a psych study on how babies can differentiate between physically attractive adults. It must mean that somethings are naturally prettier than others, right?”

Yes. right. Okay…now answer the question “To LIKE or NOT TO LIKE”

Yes, it is true, that is the bane of our social media existence.

It has always been mine at least, especially as i got more interested in the feminist movements and gender based issues. However, until this weekend, or last three months (which you will soon understand), I never thought of the picture being taken. Still I never knew it would get so serious that I would have to consult with Grosz’s words to determine if I should or should not take a damn picture or even do the dance at all. (aside) My parents would have been so happy if i did that with the bible every time I attempted to lie  but instead I choose feminists who obviously want to encourage us to “leave our husbands, kill our children and become lesbians.” I’m sorry Pat Robertson(who really said that)!! I’ll do better when I’m dead I promise.

But my post is not really about social media nor Pat Robertson. It is about all the thoughts that made me excited about wearing that bikini and the same ones that made me hesitate before taking the picture.

Over the weekend, I got to perform an Afro-Brazilian carnival themed piece that I have been rehearsing for for three months now. It was one of the most exciting performances of my life; the spotlights were perfect, the energy was high, the crowd was roaring. “WHOOOO!”

It was beautiful!

There were lots of screams and supporting applause when we came out in our first costume like what the beautiful ladies in the picture are wearing: a huge colorful skirt and a cropped top.

However, when we stepped out in our bikinis- the second costume- the audience went CRAAAAY! Im talking ape shit here

They loved us. I would have loved to say that they cheeered louder because the dance in the second half was better. But that would be a lie considering that the screams got louder with every simple step we took to get into our positions before the beat even dropped. While we were just getting ready to do what we were there to do, it seemed like the audience had gotten what they wanted to see. Perhaps if we simply stood there and did nothing we might have been just as awesome as they said we were when they came bearing gifts backstage.

When I recall such scenarios it suddenly becomes easier to understand why my friend, a very good dancer, thought the dance was fantastic but “not for her”

Me: What do you mean it is not for you?

Friend: LOL please, have you seen all this (she points to stomach), aint nobody wanna see this on stage”

At this point, Lacan creepily walked through my brain, reminding me that the friend I saw in front of me, or more importantly, the single pair of my eyes looking at her  was not competition for all the  gossip columns on Kim K’s weight and weight loss pills commercial that she saw when she stood in front of the “real” mirrors e.g, instagram, facebook and twitter.

Above the depth of low self esteem and twitter bullying , she was probably just doing the right thing and dressing according to her body type. Right? I mean there MUST be a manual that comes attached to us when we add two pounds or lose ten. I’m asking because I never get one, perhaps it’s because I move around a lot?

The wrecking ball distorts my mind not only when someone talks about their body as a loss, but also mine as a gain. After my friend had given me the lovely sermon about how her ability to dance was less necessary than her inability to display a 2 pack (because those same “what to wear” editors also say females shouldn’t do 6 packs, eww right?, who wants to be completely healthy/ fit ), my other friend hugged me and said “you were gorgeous out there, and I mean body right! everything was perfect”

“…you were gorgeous, I mean body right!”

This is not the first time I’ve had to annoy my friends by telling my friends that my long legs or flat stomach means nothing more than their shorter or bigger legs do. At least three times a day, lovely kind hearted citizens of all ages and occupations walk up to me to confirm that I have modeled, am currently modelling or will definitely send my picture to Ford as soon as our conversation is over. Firstly, calling my friends bigger or shorter would offend a lot of people. It is safe to say it is a result of the complexity that Judith Butler and others fight to deconstruct.”Short legs” or “fat” only seem insulting because of the meaning we have stuffed into those neutral letters. F.A.T vs S.K.I.N.N.Y can you see the word is not the thing itself? Using this anecdote,Grosz would explain how a fat body is only really fat when it acts in a fat way. Therefore, the mind that thinks “fatly”(excuse my poetic justice) has affected what the body does, how it moves and why we come to see the whole being as fat rather than doing fat things. Think about it, Why is it that I, slim 6 ft creature,  eats as much (or even more )unhealthy than some of my friends called fat but people would still call me fit? Or even more dangerously, they would preach about how I’m so lucky, “you can eat anything and never have to worry about being fat”. Like death from high cholesterol is a joke compared to being unable to zip those undersized pants we buy for ourselves in hope, or those we have grown out of. If you still cannot switch from your gaze and into my looking please blame the inadequacy of language once again; I am limited not only through English but by the culture of language in general.

Through many gazes I’m beautiful! “I mean..body right.” so when I held that camera in my hand, ready to take a picture of my beautiful costume, I had to hesitate. I HAD to because I heard somewhere that the rate of anorexia in teenage girls increase by at least 5% after every Victoria Secret Fashion show. All that takes is an hour of watching similar looking creatures strut the runway while looking extremely happy. I HAD to hesitate because someone thinks that the only people who can wear such a beautiful costume are people who look like me-6ft with visible ribs( at least more bones than fat).

I love my body, I love it very much actually, but sometimes I cannot hesitate to ask if I love my body because my mirror is made up of the eyes of magazine editors and model scouts who clap for me as I dress up for school everyday.When you see friends who look like these models put up a bikini picture do you think they are just showing off? I know I think that when I see friends who put up pictures of their Gucci bags and Louis Vuitton shoes. Since, like a Gucci bag, a female being is hardly more than the design and material of the substance, I couldn’t help but think I was a show off even though my body might be the only “skinny” trait I own. Though India Arie might not be her hair but is she her body?

The real questions are: can you see me without my body? Is it possible? Is it helpful to do so?  Is it disrespectful to even do so?

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