I was sitting here this morning puttering around the house listening to NPR’s special called “The Hidden World of Girls” produced by “The Kitchen Sisters”. It was a fabulous collection of stories about the experiences, struggles and “inner worlds” of young women from around the world. The last story introduced a growing trend amongst women in Jamaica. Some Jamaican women have resulted to taking “chicken pills” to alter their hips, thighs and buttocks to make them more full. These “chicken pills” are growth pills that are used to make chickens mature more quickly than nature’s timeline. An explanation of as to why this phenomena emerged is explained by a Jamaican man interviewed for NPR’s story,
“Most males, they love to see women with big bottoms. The whole idea of Coca-Cola bottle shape” Carol says. ” ‘I don’t want a meager woman,’ that’s how the men would speak. … They’re figuring if you look meager, you look poor, in the sense that you’re not being taken care of.”
“If you have no meat on your bones, the society can’t see your wealth, your progress, your being…”
The risks associated with the consumption of these chicken pills is great due to the cancer causing cumulative toxic agent arsenic which is present in the pills. The story went on to describe that the pills are among other body altering substances that are used widely and illegally in the Caribbean. Skin bleaching is also a widely used product.
The very end of the story ended with this statement from another interviewee, this time a woman,
“At the end of the day,” says Stanley-Niaah, “women do these beauty practices not to diminish themselves, but to somehow assert themselves.”
Many thoughts ran through my head after listening to the program. I am no feminist but immediately I wanted to blame men for our distorted attempts to please and be accepted, then of course my thoughts turned to the white man for twisting the sense out of the black race then I just had to face reality. We as women, specifically Western women have got too much freakin’ time on our hands. We have it far too easy. The fact that we are willing to risk our lives for a fat ass in comparison to our fellow women folk in Egypt and Yemen who at this very moment are risking their lives as human shields against army tanks so that they may have a say in the direction and leadership of their country speaks volumes. The fact that we are willing to risk our lives and our children’s lives by obsessing over hair texture and applying toxins dutifully every six weeks and shelling out thousands of dollars because of it in comparison to Liberian women who risked their lives and successfully ended a civil war through unity and persistence due to their dedication to the important things in their life such as peace and the safety of their future generations speaks volumes about our values as Western women. We exalt, strive and find a false sense of “assertion”in our sexuality when we are so much more than tits, ass, thighs, good hair, bad hair, natural hair, permed hair, divas, eye candy, single or married. I say that wholeheartedly but I struggle when I try to imagine what more we can be? What ideals, movements, principals are we willing to look past ourselves and die for? Don’t we want our baby girls to beam with pride that their mothers lived, breathed and stood high due to more than Louboutin heels and fat asses? Sweet baby Jesus, I know I do…
Let’s inspire one another! Comment and share what you strive to stand for as a woman.
Shanti Mayers and Antoinette Henry are best friends whose friendship took root in Philadelphia 10 years ago. Now as adults, Antoinette lives in Brooklyn New York pursuing her dreams in theater while Shanti still resides in Philadelphia raising her one- year old daughter. The creation of their blog “A Curl’s Best Friend” is representative of the creators and their love for natural hair, their appreciation of beauty and talent, their need for self -expression and their admiration for the many faces and voices of womanhood. Keep up with them on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr!