Summer Song: This year’s song is Drake’s “Nice for What”
Summer has arrived quicker than some of us anticipated…in rapid succession of prayers begging for Sprinter (the agonizing Spring/Winter season a lot of us had) to move on out the way. Seemingly, this left many of us feeling unprepared. Many of us have failed on our newest New Year resolution of preparing in the “off-season” for the “BIG GAME” and our winter bodies have followed us into the summer and now…we feel stuck. We are mad at ourselves for our weekly Chipotle runs (twice for some us but no one is pointing fingers), not calling our trainer at the gym we never paid membership to in the first damn place, and booze…lots and lots of booze (Stella Artois and whiskey specifically in my case).
BUT this isn’t the first summer that I’ve entered like a deer caught in headlights. This is about the 7th year of “unprepared” summer body. I began to gain weight after I was no longer playing 5 collegiate sports (Division 3) after graduating from undergrad on a consistent basis, gym visits fluctuated, and good eating habits went down the drain in rebellion to the structure I was used to for so long. Additionally, the stress of graduate and doctoral studies have added to my weight gain. As if overnight, I went from wearing size 8/10 pants and medium tops to a size 14/16 pants and XL tops. My thighs have thickened (tbh, I actually love my thighs…a bih is finally thicker than a snicker aaayyyeee), my breast grew and are large af, and my stomach typically eats every pair of tights I have alive.
So going from what I’ll call an athletic body to a much thicker and fuller body has been a sometimes devastating transition. I often have (and still do at times) struggled hearing men and women praise women’s bodies who look nothing like mine. I try shrinking myself in spaces where I struggle a lot to find shorts and tops that fit perfectly. My stomach is often the worst part of me to deal with as I find myself not wanting to fit into tight body fitting dresses that I once did.
The last time that I can recall wanting to show anybody a picture of me in a swim suit without hesitation was in 2011. So, when others are showing sexy and revealing swim suit pics…I dig up my old ones archived in the dungeons of my phone’s camera history to pictures that I deem worthy to share. Pictures of myself with about 60 pounds less fat and toned arms, legs, stomach, back and ass. Yea I said it…ASS! And the prelude to showing my pics always sounds like…”Well…I haven’t always been this big…”
It is disheartening to realize that sometimes the only way I can feel good about myself now is to point to a time when I had a smaller body. Why in the hell am I giving people permission to not see the body I’m in NOW as flattering!? The narrative of “I haven’t always been this big…” is an admission of displeasure, defeat, ungratefulness, and worst of all shame. I am body shaming my fucking self! Listen…It is ok to love ourselves where we were but we have to love ourselves in the NOW! Small or BIG!
I am still a work in progress in terms of loving my complete self. However, this summer I’m going to affirm my greatness daily, yet simultaneously acknowledging that if I want to make some changes to my body through healthy eating and working out its ok! But what makes it ok is that I am starting to appreciate and love myself where and how I am at this moment in time. I’ve also began participating in activities make me feel able bodied and sexy. I’ve taken up pole dancing, Zumba, Hip-hop workouts and African dance. I’ve also started to wear tank tops again and I am going to purchase a two-piece swimsuit for the first time in years because…well why the hell not!? Finally, I’ve began to tell people who have anything to say about my body to stay in their lane and mind their own damn business! I working toward no longer allowing others’ gaze and opinion shape how I feel about me. I am finding comfort in my own gaze. I stand in the mirror naked and acknowledge the magnificent work of God’s hands and what has been crafted into perfection.
Being able to share this shit in this amazing space and publicly about how I feel about MY BODY has been freeing, necessary, and a burden has been lifted through this moment of reflection. I am deciding to enter this summer remembering a few important things about MY BODY.
MY BODY is prepared for all seasons. MY BODY has weathered storms and sunshine. MY BODY has endured pain and stress and turned it to joy, happiness, and laughter. MY BODY tell stories of growth, change, resiliency and progress in the stretchmarks that are etched onto my skin like a roadmap. MY BODY is still standing when depression and low self-esteem could have easily taken me out completely out of the game leaving me with no body at all. MY BODY is a testament of my courage and strength to continue to live and be present and take up space. MY BODY will be loved by me in a way that no other person on God’s green earth can. MY BODY is and will forever be deserving of love. MY BODY is flawless.
I leave with one my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies that I will be reciting in the mirror daily this summer: “This next 40 or so years that I’m gone be here…I’m gone live. And for these children that can’t take the fact that I still look beautiful…HA!…suffer!”—Pepper LaBeija, Paris is Burning (1990).
Katrina “KO” Overby
Social Media Handles: @prettyhurrakane1908 (IG) @prettyhurrakane (Snap)