Beauty Lookbook

It took me years to love my curves as a Latina

Actress Blake Lively was the center of online controversy recently at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival when she posted an Instagram showing off her body hugging gown with the caption “L.A. face with an Oakland booty.” This erupted online debate in the comments section and spurred a sea of think pieces covering everything from cultural appropriation, social media influence, and, last but never least, body image.

Her Instagram post, and by default, her body are part of the casual glamorization that ignites idolization of the big breasts, skinny waist, huge butt body type. This silhouette has been in fashion as of late as a creation for, and by, white celebrities but is also the same stereotypical standard that most black and Latina women are held to. Celebrities are able to show off their bodies like anyone else is, but the difference is that their lives, whether they want to or not, are being used as comparisons for the rest of the population (or better said, their fans or anyone who comes in contact with their content).

It’s proven that celebrities and their influence are markers for the population as evident by follower counts, rising trends, and the ever popular fragrance/cosmetic/apparel/reality show empires that have been built.

[bctt tweet=”The first time I can remember disliking my body was when I was about 12 years old.” username=”wearethetempest”]

If I had Blake Lively’s body, confidence, or maybe just her filters – my life growing up, and even now would be a lot different. Like most other women, I am on a journey towards “body acceptance” and “positivity” that has extended from my early teens to now.

The first time I can remember disliking my body was when I was about 12 years old, and I was trying to find something to wear to my first middle school dance. I tried on a bright blue shirt with a bright yellow lace camisole and capris. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking I looked pudgy. I went to the dance, listened to some Secondhand Serenade, and felt self-conscious the entire time.

Growing up, I was hyper aware of the space I took up. As a tall and slightly chubby child, I never fit into the normal fashion trends girls of my age set fit into.

I am currently 5’11 (5’10 ¾ to be exact), around 180 lbs, a size 8-12, and still very aware of all of this.

Through social media, listicles, conversation… honestly just existing, I feel like I’m told how I can better distribute my fat, hide my stomach, shop for my thighs, and show off my hips (all in 10 minutes or less!). I grew up being really annoyed (and jealous) of the Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie/Lohan body type. They were effortlessly skinny and twig-like, and I think it subconsciously held a major bearing on my own depictions of the female body.

[bctt tweet=”As a Latina, I feel like there’s just no way I can win on some days.” username=”wearethetempest”]

But in the past 10 years, trends have now moved to exoticize a body type that’s more commonly been attributed to black and Latina women.

As a Latina, I feel like there’s just no way I can win on some days. I can never fit into the imaginary “skinny white girl” mold because of my large hips, butt, and general size, but because my curves aren’t smooth and my chest is small, I can also never embody the false image expressed by Latina celebrities like Sofia Vergara. The latter is openly praised in movies, TV, and any other form of media you can name. Some can argue that these outlets “aren’t real life” but that’s just the concern – they are meant to reflect real life, but because of those creating the content and those participating in it, they aren’t true reflections of everyday life.

It took me years to realize that neither of these “types” are actually real.

Trying to redefine what my “Latina body” was to my life is a very complex journey that I’m sure I’ll dissect through every stage of my life. My body isn’t the most important thing on my mind at any given moment, but that does not mean that when it is a thought, it isn’t the most annoying and forceful thing in existence. It’s been a few years of struggling with food, exercise, how I feel I should look, and how I perceive myself, but I have made advancements. I fundamentally understand the flaws in media and that the societal expectations that my body is sometimes held to were created long before I was even born.

[bctt tweet=”My body is my own and both as strong as it is beautiful.” username=”wearethetempest”]

My body is my own and both as strong as it is beautiful.

My willing my thighs, stomach, and butt to be smaller is not only destructive and a bit impossible (because of how I am built), but it would also take away the awesome feeling I get whenever one of my friends mention how nice I look in those leggings/jeans/skirt/etc.

And why would I ever want to do that?

By Sehrish Sarah Khan-Williamson

Sarah Khan-Williamson is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School (MTS, Islamic Studies ’14) and George Mason University (BA, English and Religious Studies ’11) – and is pursuing two MA degrees at the University of Arizona (Middle Eastern & North African Studies, Public Administration). She prides herself on being a global peace educator and leader for CISV, advocate for social justice and human rights, and her makeup skills.