Black women's bodies are hyper-sexualized and we need to make sure the language around body positivity doesn't reinforce racist and sexist fetishization. Demetria Obilor, traffic reporter at a Texas news station, recently responded to body-shaming comments made about her style of dress. The comments focused on her body size and her choice to wear clothing that does not hide her figure. This situation is reminiscent of Patrice Brown, more commonly and affectionately known as Teacher Bae, who suddenly found herself under a microscope and under review by her employer when a photo of her went viral and garnered comments about how her wardrobe was inappropriate for the classroom. Both of these women, and many more, are fighting a constant battle against unwarranted and unwelcome commentary about their bodies and how they choose to dress them. Not necessarily because of their size, but because of their shape. “Has anyone seen Channel 8’s new morning traffic reporter? Her name is Demetria Obilor & she’s a size 16/18 woman in a size 6 dress and she looks ridiculous,” wrote Jan Shedd in a now-deleted Facebook post. “I understand that when I watch Channel 8 I’m going to get biased reporting and political correctness, but clearly they have taken complete leave of their senses. I’m not going to watch Channel 8 anymore.” The post went viral after Chance the Rapper retweeted a screenshot of it with the simple caption “BIIIIIIG MAD.”
https://twitter.com/fabfreshandfly/status/926508650947940352 https://twitter.com/chancetherapper/status/926519148988989441 Obilor's response was astute, matter of fact, and refreshing: “A quick word to those people: this is the way that I’m built, this is the way I was born, I’m not going anywhere, so if you don’t like it you have your options.” While I support Demetria and her response to the racism and body shaming she continues to experience, I feel like there's something else to be found beneath its many layers. Something else about this situation bothers me. Both Obilor and Brown are “pear” shaped, light-skinned Black women. Their very existence in the bodies they were born into is readily fetishized, and not just by the color struck purveyors of colorism. With their light skin, small waistlines, and prominent hips and butts, they inhabit the seemingly most desired, coveted, and worshipped body type, for Black women especially. But there is something at play here besides the fact that people of all races, genders, and sexualities constantly attempt to police Black women's bodies. It's beyond the fact that Black women, regardless of appearance, are always-already sexualized. It's beyond the fact that curvy body types are always deemed inappropriate no matter what we wear.