By Sydney Turner
Growing up, my grandmother would constantly suck on her teeth, slap my tummy, and berate me to “suck that potbelly in!”. Which was more of a figure of speech as I grew up a pretty skinny child. But it didn’t change how I viewed my body, particularly my stomach. I learned to breathe while holding my body as tight as I could. As I entered puberty and grew up, I became more and more obsessed with trying to be as flat as humanly possible.
I don’t remember when I started eating less. Whether that was in fourth grade when my friend ran up to me energetically announcing that she could “feel her body eating at her fat” because she was hungry but not eating. In high school, I had to wear spandex shirts and started to see a bump developing in grammar school when I finally transitioned from 99 to 100 lbs, and my mom looked disappointed. Maybe it was when my grandmother preached about how all she ate as a child was a Pepsi, a pickle, and a peppermint and how well that paid off for her. Or any of the many times I have turned to the side and sighed in disappointment. I know at some point I became more comfortable in hunger than I did feeling fed. I praised it, waiting for my body to eat away at the fat that refused to leave my body. I was praying somehow my mind and body would work together to target specific areas I decided were my hated areas of the month. So I stopped eating, became comfortable feeling faint and hungry, and prayed that I’d wake up one day flatter.
I got older and learned that most people who have a vagina have a bump above it to protect them in pregnancy. “It’s protection, not fat!” they would claim. I got so angry that I spent so long trying to be flat when it wasn’t possible, so mad at being mad at myself for something my body was doing to help me. So I ate a little more, just a bit, because it was protection, not fat! So it was okay.
But sometimes, often even, it is fat. As I grew up and finally allowed myself to eat food, it became fat. And I’m gonna admit I’ve had so much trouble accepting how run-flat I am. No matter what diets, I try what exercises I learn, no matter if I stop eating again, my body doesn’t want to be flat. Even at its flattest, I can’t see the difference anymore. Even when I don’t eat on purpose and try to trick my body into eating itself into a shape, I can stand; it doesn’t matter because I…. find a new thing to hate anyway. You’re not supposed to say that, but that’s the truth. Everyone is body positive now but let’s be honest, no one is fupa positive, and that sucks. And celebrating others’ bodies will always be easier than celebrating your own because you have to live in your body, even when you don’t want to.
I’m older and better at not fighting my body anymore. Over the years, my grandmother’s voice, mother’s disappointment, and negative self-talk have gotten quieter. But it’s still there; I don’t know if I’m ever going to stop trying to become flat. Once again, you’re not supposed to say that, but that’s my truth. But I know how much it hurts to hate on a body that’s done nothing but keep me alive, in a pandemic at that. I know how much constant hunger has hurt me; I didn’t eat foods for years because they weren’t flat foods. But if my body doesn’t want to be flat, then it just won’t be flat. And all the energy I spend fighting it hurts both me and my body. Sometimes the FUPA is fat, sometimes you can’t become flat, and that’s okay.
Sydney Turner is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Sydney believes in the power of Black women of every background and is invested in bringing attention to our unique perspective on important topics. You can follow Sydney on instagram @syd_pie11.