Yes, Brown, Thick People Like Themselves
I recently read an article by Refinery 29, where the author oohed and ahhed about one of my favorite comedians, Mindy Kaling and how she rocked a stunning green crop top ensemble. Is this really news? Yes, it is. Because Mindy Kaling is brown girl who is thick. She is not a size zero or two. She went on about how inspiring Mindy was for “effortlessly translating the trend.”
If you want to talk about effortlessly translating trends, I’d like you to meet the Rosetta Stone of plus-size fashion. I had to let out a laugh, because I instantly thought of the super fabulous blogger gabifresh who boldly rocked a crop top in some of her amazing photos and how she “been done that” numerous times.
Folks treat thick women like folks with disabilities sometimes and give the same condescending bs for doing everyday things like living. God forbid “others” love themselves. It’s one thing to be among similar people and praise one another for their differences, but to be out in the open and say you love yourself or you love your body and you don’t look like Beyonce or J. Low or J. Law, folks who fit into society’s blueprint of beauty and the arbiters of fashion are going to give you that slow clap that eventually speeds up because of your “courage.”
Get all the *ucks outta here with that.
I will give Gina Marinelli of Refinery 29 some credit. She tried her darndest to make her article not sound like a prom queen write in project because everyone assumes for someone like who looks different or is considered an outcast, this will be the best moment in their lives. So she used very careful language while giving Mindy praise.
“Let’s put this out there right away: We’d never assume that the star of The Mindy Project can’t, in any way, wear whatever she pleases. And, she’s not the kind of lady who succumbs to those kind of notions either. No, Kaling is not a size 2 or 0 or whatever the “typical” size that may be associated with many young, female members of Hollywood.”
She did her research and already knew from an article from Parade, Mindy is not here for rosy platitudes.
From the Parade Magazine article: “I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well meaning, but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?’”
So here we go. Mindy is brown and thick, and has already been retweeted and quoted and misquoted about fifty-eleben million times about being tired of condescending questions about her confidence despite being brown and thick. Folks have made memes with this quote and the beat goes on.
I liked this gem too from the Parade article: “There are little Indian girls out there who look up to me, and I never want to belittle the honor of being an inspiration to them. But while I’m talking about why I’m so different, white male show runners get to talk about their art.”
So I dig Mindy for a million reasons. This chick really started from the bottom, and while yall were sleeping, she was writing and directing episodes of “The Office” while yall thought she was simply the dilly Kelly Kapour. Mindy is acutely aware of her place and space in the world, she is unapologetic and she knows what her presence on television and in the writers room means for those who follow behind her. But like most successful women of color, we simply want to get to work and be recognized for being really great at what we do. We don’t want people telling us, “No, I don’t see color.” Because then you don’t see part of who we are, but we also don’t want people treating us or telling us we are beautiful or intelligent DESPITE our color or our weight, or because we come from a certain side of town.
But what bothered me most about the article wasn’t the article itself, but the comments. Folks were bashing Mindy like you wouldn’t believe. Some folks who from their avis looked overweight themselves. Harsh, harsh comments.
The same goes for Gabourey Sidibe.
Seems like folks get extra offended that this young woman has self-esteem. GASP. For shame. She is having the time of her life and a successful career well after the movie “Precious.” There were people who said that was the only role she could play because of her size, and her deep, dark color. It’s amazing really.
People can embrace Beyoncé for loving who she is as a mother and businesswoman and wife and she can dance around butt naked if she wants to. And even Beyoncé sang that “Pretty Hurts.” And that at the end of the day, you have to ask “are you happy with yourself?” Clearly, Gabby and Mindy are and they are making money even while they are sleeping at night while the rest of us walk around self-conscious and trying to make folks that don’t matter feel more comfortable around us. Pulese.
So because Gabourey Sidibe doesn’t lock herself in the house wearing a moo-moo, eating cartons of Haagen Daz everyday, wishing to be something other than herself, folks are actually offended and mad that she openly loves herself, isn’t looking for Weight Watchers endorsements or signing up to be on the next cycle of the Biggest Loser.
Folks take offense that Mindy is speaking the truth and rocking awesome clothes and having regular women take the time to make friends with tailors and seamstresses again.
In a society full of vain people, it’s awfully short-sighted to be discriminatory in terms of who can be allowed to openly love themselves, or their bodies or their scars or the color of their skin if they DON’T fit into the mainstream image of beauty.
Folks talk about self-confidence and self-love but as a society we sure don’t make it easy on folks who don’t appear to be the obvious poster children for it. Instead, we pile on the “others” hoping to stamp it out of them to make them shrink back into the margins.
But guess what? That’s not even about to happen. Because for folks who have to make the extra effort to smile, and to be proud of who they are inside and out, it’s not even about beauty anymore, it’s about personal integrity and it’s about survival. And that’s the safest place to be. Shallow folks will never have enough strength to reach that deep to destroy it.