Lush, Voluptuous, Bountiful, Fat 5

A few years ago I wrote the following words while thinking about my mother and how she would walk into church on Sunday mornings and evenings and Wednesday night prayer meetings and…well…we went to church every time the door opened it seems. 

Heels tap across the floor.  Bracelets ring around an arm.  A scarf folds and flutters off a neck and caresses the breasts.  Hips sway down the aisle.  The men’s eyes herald the woman’s arrival and follow her as she walks toward the front pews, the corners of their mouths turning slightly as they stifle grins.  The women claim not to notice through narrowed eyes.  And a little girl, the daughter, learns the power of hips.

Having learned the power of hips, round behinds, full breasts while growing up in the nurturing soil of an all Black community in St. Louis, Missouri (until I was 17), I have never felt ugly or non-desirable because I am fat.  I have loved my curves and been loved and lusted for because of them.  I have exercised (used to be a step-class queen), dressed up, danced, and dated all of my life with these hips and behind in tow. 

I have been less fat or more fat but I’ve never been thin in my life.  I have always known how to work being me.  We are given one face, one body, one basic being and so I don’t envy other people their faces, bodies, beings.  I celebrate the variations – so many ways to be beautiful.  I claim mine and celebrate yours.

I have always felt succulent.  In fact, I only really feel fat when I am next to others who are not fat.  When I’m with myself and I look in my mirror, I’m always checking to see if I look the best I can.  Do the clothes fit?  Do I still have a waist?  Are my hips still round?  Is my behind still where it’s ‘sposed to be?

My maternal grandmother and my step-grandmother were fat, fine women who lived to be ripe old ages.  They were not sick and never had surgery.  When I think about the two of them, some of the things that stand out is that they both ate mostly fresh food that they cooked themselves, they were respected as the leaders of the family (and both were married), they loved their lives and rarely voiced disappointments, and they saw their children and grandchildren making progress for the family.  One never worked outside her home.  The other worked in the kitchen at the all-black Homer G. Phillips Hospital, so they didn’t have the stress that many jobs carry today. They believed in God, church, and the power of the words, “Lord, Have Mercy.”

Through them I learned to love being lush, voluptuous, bountiful, fat and about the power of hips.  Thanks, y’all.

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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