By Nikita Haynie
Yesterday was my breastversary! That’s right, the one year anniversary of my breast reduction, and I couldn’t be more excited to share some of the things I’ve learned after undergoing a breast augmentation. If you need a quick recap of my story, be sure to check it out here.
Sonia Renee Taylor’s book, The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love, has revolutionized and served as the foundation for my body journey. One quote, in particular, has been my guiding compass: “Concepts like self-acceptance and body neutrality are not without value. When you have spent your entire life at war with your body, these models offer a truce. But you can have more than a cease-fire. You can have radical self-love because you are already radical self-love”. While my journey to radical self-love has been challenging, the outcome has been prolific.
I’ve normalized and embraced body positivity by reshaping and reframing how I speak about my body and challenging others in my life to do the same. No one’s opinion about my body matters more than mine. The physical manifestation in which I exist is unique, no one is me, and I am no one else. It’s important to speak life and admiration for my body; I AM MY OWN STANDARD OF BEAUTY.
I struggled with which image looked better, and I rested in this truth: BOTH are beautiful, and both versions of my body are, also, beautiful. Black women’s bodies matter in all shapes and sizes, whether a size two or size 22. Dismantling and decolonizing my mind against societal norms toward my Black body have given me the freedom to hone in on a different level of validation and affirmation.
Society has significantly shaped the narrative for Black girls and how we should feel about our bodies; ironically, our curves and features are widely accepted on women from non-black heritage. Black women’s bodies are often policed and labeled as “too big,” “too sexy,” or “too (insert any uninformed naysayer’s opinion). It’s disheartening to continually observe the world criticizing Black women’s bodies but watching audacious Black women like Lizzo and Tabria Majors has been empowering. Even amid the critique, I know this truth:
BLACK WOMEN ARE THE STANDARD.
Black women deserve the luxury of existing in our bodies unapologetically and authentically. The biggest takeaway from undergoing a breast reduction has been my increased self-confidence and self-love. A year ago yesterday, I woke up terrified and uncertain about making the right decision because I was afraid of how I would feel and look. Still, this transformation was the best decision I’ve made for my overall health, wellness, and self-love. For my 34th birthday, I did something I’ve always desired: A sexy photoshoot. In the past, I’ve shied away from doing a photoshoot because I was overly critical of my body, but in this new season of my life, I stand in my truth; I stand in self-affirmation, I stand in self-love, I stand in knowing I am a masterpiece. I wore everything I wanted. I was sexy. I was beautiful. I was regal. I am proud to choose myself and to center loving myself in every way possible. The best gift Black women can give to ourselves is to be kind to ourselves, especially our beautiful Black bodies.
To every Black woman reading:
“You are beautiful in the body you were gifted. Be kind to yourself. The journey to self-love isn’t a marathon but a daily choice of choosing yourself in totality. You are the standard; own the skin you’re in. BLACK WOMEN ARE THE STANDARD. YOU ARE A MASTERPIECE.”
Nikita Haynie is the Assistant Editor for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Nikita is a writer, author, and Black woman creative. She is a creative that writes content intersecting faith, black womanhood, and culture. Proud optimist. Follow her on Instagram: @thenikitahaynie and @writeonblackgirl. Check her out at NikitaHaynie.com