Body Issues Within Education

I know that this “incident” isn’t really worth wasting any time or energy on but I would like to bring it to light to show some true facts and problematic realities.

One of the students in my Spanish class suggested a library book to me about losing belly fat through dieting from gluten.

This was inappropriate, unnecessary, unwanted and just plain rude.

What really shocks me about moments like this is that people really think that they are helping.

Personally, even if one is going to compliment someone on their weight I just personally feel that no comments should ever be made about weight from strangers. You are not family, nor a close friend and I feel that weight is such a personal subject that strangers ought not comment on something so personal.

I am a teacher. This individual is my student. I am a professional. I am not a model in a beauty contest. Why they felt saying this was appropriate is beyond me but he will not be the first and he will not be the last to do so. As a woman standing in front of a classroom for hours on end, there will be plenty of visual scrutiny on my body.

As a teacher, especially a female one, I feel like this is a subject and a struggle that isn’t often talked about. Teachers are meticulously analyzed visually. Every detail can and is seen about teachers because they spend hours with students each day and even have some close contact, like when they tutor or bend down to assist a student.

Therefore there is a pressure to look 100 every day. One of my biggest fears is having an accident while menstruating during class. It has never happened, but it did happen to my grandmother, in a day where that wasn’t even talked about. Ever since she told me that story of the kids asking why she was bleeding down her leg, I was terrified of that sort of humiliation happening to me.

Another thing, is being sexualized as a female teacher. I taught a college course to students very close to me in age while I was in graduate school. When I turned around they could see how my business skirt wrapped around my plump derriere.

There is nothing that I can do about my big butt, nor should I have to. Business clothes are often made very straight up and down and are not made to properly fit curvy women.

It’s no issue of me not buying the appropriate sizes. In fact I often have to buy elephant sized pants as I call them because they are too big for the rest of my legs and they drag on the ground and I trip in them, but I have to get sizes up so that it’ll fit my hips and butt without having major lines directing to my crotch area.

So it’s really not my fault. Buying business professional clothes as a curvy woman is an absolute nightmare and knowing that no matter how conservatively I dress my curves will always be loud and prominent is difficult because I am not trying to seduce anyone. It’s just the body that God created on me and I can’t really “tone it down” in the classroom.

It gives unwanted attention. Students say things they shouldn’t and whistle and touch me. It annoys me that I have to confront these uncomfortable situations.

But back to the weight guy.

I didn’t confront him about it but I plan to address it because I really am trying to be assertive.

I will say that he also said the diet book would help with skin issues too. He was referencing my acne.

OMG!

Seriously!?

If I am just THAT HIDEOUS to look at during class, then maybe my class isn’t for you.

Why any man or any person would have a requirement for all women, let alone an educator to look “perfect” doesn’t make sense. It isn’t my job to look “pretty” all of the time. I am here to educate, point, blank.

Also this what a White man. Why is that significant? Because I am a Black woman and Black women tend to be curvier, bigger and fatter than White women.

His cultural standards for what “skinny, pretty and fat” are probably differ a lot from mine. I like my body shape. I don’t want to change it (in general.)

However because this book was about belly fat I have been insecure about not having a flat stomach for several years. I try to work on not being insecure about it and embracing it because honestly having a roll or two on one’s stomach is totally normal.

I like how thick I’ve gotten because I haven’t always been as curvy as I used to be. I prefer to have a curvy voluptuous body and this man assumed that I wanted to change that because he wants it changed. He assumed that I was unhappy with my perceived “fatness.”

This is a form of body shaming and it is also part of what I call “#sacism” sexist and racist actions combined, because once again, if the epitome of beauty is a skinny white woman’s figure and one truly believes that this is the standard that every woman should follow then they are dead wrong.

Women come in ALL shapes and sizes and that’s not only normal, it’s very beautiful!

I should also add that the first class this dude who is probably three times my age, suggested that we go out and get a beer together.

Dude, if you’re trying to hit on a woman, it probably won’t entrance her, being told how she needs to lose weight.

First class he commented on how much weight I had lost since the last class, as a compliment. Sorry, I don’t view this as a compliment because it implies that someone had a lot of weight prior. I just don’t feel like it really needs to be said. Why not just simply say, “Hey you look good,” the end.

As an educator I feel that it really ought not matter what I look like. Even having an alternative style becomes an issue at times. There are alterations I dream of doing to my body that I cannot do because I am in education and I won’t be taken seriously if I have blue dreads, piercings and tattoos.

Because I’m in childcare and there is a diverse staff I have gotten away with wearing my dark plum purple faux crochet locks with various bead jewels in them. I wear nerdy jewelry like plastic chokers and 8-bit heart necklaces and scrubs with superheroes on them. At another facility, those things might not be allowed.

It just sucks that these things even happen and matter so much. I am more than capable of teaching an excellent class no matter how I am dressed. I am also much more than my appearance. I am super brilliant and skilled in my field. The fact that someone would be blinded by my looks and not see my intelligence is just pathetic.

 

 

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