The Kardashians made their money by trademarking their white femininity, their relationships with African American men and marketing Black beauty aesthetics for white women—a type of modern mediated Blackface in a cultural space where few actual Black faces actually grace U.S. television screens.
With a sublime mastery of language and artistry, five women poets— Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Patricia Smith, Ellen Bass, Toi Derricotte, Tina Chang—ask us to consider bodies facing attacks both physical and psychological. They write in defense, in awe and awareness of the body, pointing again and again to our shared humanity.
“People are going to be so fat when all this is over.” Most describe fat bodies as epidemic, so for many, the panic must literally feel like one tragedy is actively breeding another.
Yet, eating is one form of human comfort—and we need to acknowledge that in difficult times, seeking comfort makes sense.
From abortion to weight loss, the patriarchal tradition of policing women’s bodies is a strong and long lasting one. Telling women what they must or must not do with their hair—whether that be the color, texture, quantity or location of it—is just another way women’s agency over their own bodies is controlled.
“Nakedness can mean so many things. It can be innocent or provocative, a symbol of degradation or an act of trust. Oddly, even though it’s our natural state, to be naked feels like stepping outside the order of things. We’re unaccustomed to being so visible.”
“Suddenly, here we are, literally watching our own faces as we talk. It’s not just weird; it can be deeply triggering of personal and social traumas.”
Both Aimee Liu and I now find ourselves sheltering at home and woefully contemplating a social and commercial landscape that is forcing booksellers, publishers and authors to reinvent the very definition of a book launch.
Deeming some hairstyles professional or acceptable while others—such as locks are not—is just one way that those in power deem who gets hired, who gets promoted, and who is allowed to experience the freedom to simply be and dress and exist as they naturally are.
While there are a number of risk factors for eating disorders, including our culture’s obsession with thinness, one factor is talked about less often and that is sexual violence.
Apparently, even in 2020, there is something suspect, even shameful, about devoting too much page time to the body, despite the fact that we all conduct our lives from within a body. But I’ve been body-observant for years—perhaps because my mother loved her own body.