Warning. You are now entering Planet Kamane. Cool people with intelligence, high self-esteem, and some sense of morality can dwell upon this planet. If you are lacking in any of the outlined areas, fall back down to good old planet Earth. If you can handle the truth in the purest since then travel forward and embrace Planet K for all she is worth.


Dancing Inside My Skin

I will open my mouth wide and sing in praise of my ethnicity, embracing the beauty of my rich physique. You will respect me. You will hear me. You will see that I am not an object of ridicule. I am a woman of color, size, and power.

I’ve heard it all.

You have such a pretty face. Have you tried Weight Watchers? How much do you weigh?

Don’t you want to lose weight? You have a boyfriend? She’s pretty, but she’s too big!

How can you walk? Aren’t you uncomfortable? You like to shop?

Girl, I know you can cook. Were you always so heavy? Do you have high blood pressure?

You’re going to eat that? What’s he doing with you? You’re going to die!

There was a time in my life that these fruitless words of negativity adversely affected my self-esteem. I hated the width of my body, the dark hue of my skin, the kink of my hair, and the deep tones of my voice. I hated everything that made me uniquely different from the glorified thin and blonde ideal.

When I was about seven years old, I visited my pediatrician, whose name was Dr. Alcantara. I’ll never forget her. She was a tiny little ninety-pound speck of a woman. She yelled at my mother and asked her, “How could you let her get this way?”

I left the doctor’s office that day feeling like a freak until my mother grabbed me by the shoulders, looked deep into my eyes and exclaimed, “Don’t you ever let anyone as long as you live tell you how to feel about yourself. You are my child, a beautiful little bundle of love and I’m gonna love you regardless.”

I stared at my mother and saw how her lips curled when she said those words. The determination of her curled lips and the intensity of her eyes let me know she meant what she said.

In my weakest moments of self-loathing I envisioned the wealth of love existing within my family.

I had a powerful mother who was smart, elegant, sexy, and confident. She loved the round curves of her body and the mocha hue of her silky complexion.

I had a strong father who was handsome, intelligent, regal, and kind. I loved to watch my father embrace the fullness of my mother and kiss her generously on the lips. I could sit for hours and listen to the rise and fall of his effervescent voice as he exclaimed to whomever was around that his girls were the most beautiful women on earth.

I internalized the positive reinforcement I received from my family. Eventually, I began to believe it for myself. When someone decided to challenge my self-esteem, I simply reminded him or her that I was the most beautiful woman in the world. If they had an issue with that I told them where to go and gave descriptive directions on how to get there.

Developing high self-esteem did not happen over night. It was a process of honest self-assessment, rediscovery, and spiritual clarity that began in my late teens and continued into my early twenties.

My peer group had the benefit of forming their cultural identities in a social setting that was comfortable for them. I, being one of the fifteen black students in my graduating class, had to find my voice in a sea of people whose only exposure to African American culture were stereotypical images on television.

In order to survive, I had to develop a strong sense of myself. I refused to allow their negative opinions about black people and overweight people affect the positive image I had of myself.
I smiled at those who made fun of me and retaliated by purposely performing acts forbidden to fat girls.

I became the vibrant 215-pound cheerleader with long braided hair extensions cascading down her back. I was the first one on the dance floor and the last one to sit down. I was the first chair flutist, the soloist in the talent show, and the best dressed. Go ahead and say something about my weight, I thought. I’ll knock you down with a hit of my witty tongue.

By the time senior year rolled around my spirit was fatigued. I was tired of having to defend myself for being a woman first, black second, and fat last. It came to a point when I could not take a compliment without thinking someone was either lying or trying to make me feel better.

On numerous occasions complete strangers would tell me, “Oh you have such a pretty face.” The first few hundred times I heard this comment, I thought it was a compliment but as time went on I began to see it as an insult.

I believed that people placed an emphasis on my pretty face, because my full-figured body did not fit into the mold of beautiful.

I would glare at the person who gave the compliment.

“What do you mean, a pretty face? What the hell is wrong with the rest of me? “ I would question with a sister-girl neck roll and a curled lip.

The stranger usually apologized, exclaiming, “I’m sorry I did not mean it that way.”

More than likely the stranger meant to compliment me but I was fighting so hard to prove my self worth to other people, I lost that special spark within my nature that provided me with joy, self-love, and peace of mind.

I simply could have said thank you and moved on but my identity was lost in anger and self-deceit. For so many years I had tried to prove to the world that I was not a stereotype, I lost the essence of Kamane’ in the process.

It did not matter how many cartwheels, splits, and toe touches I performed or how fabulous my hair and make-up were, if I was doing all of those things to appease an audience rather than to benefit my self-esteem, it was not worth doing.

As I entered into my early twenties, I decided to rediscover those special characteristics that formed my true identity. The first thing I performed was the difficult task of accepting everything about myself, from head to toe, inside and out.

I stood butt naked in front of the mirror for several weeks and screamed, “I love you,” at the top of my lungs. Over time I began to appreciate the fullness of my breasts, the round curves of my hips, and the size and shape of my legs.

I fell in love with my creative nature, my kind heart, and my ability to remain faithful amidst adversity. Once I was comfortable with the woman inside and outside of me, I was then able to conquer certain bad habits that were detrimental to my mental and physical health.

Stress was an enemy of mine that I had allowed to invade my life. What could I do to alleviate stress besides reaching into my snack drawer?

I began a regular exercise routine and decided to load my snack drawer with healthier alternatives. When a certain situation attempted to raise my stress level, I calmed down, took a deep breath, and forged ahead, refusing to be overcome by my circumstances.

I rediscovered the joy of living by healing the pain within my spirit. I chose prayer and the instant gratification of good conversation with positive people. I created a circle of love and support around myself with friends and family who accepted and respected me.

Writing poetry, taking salsa lessons, and attending church functions were activities that were fun and stimulating. As my spirit healed, life improved, and I found that the anger I held in my heart against those who had hurt me was gone. I was able to breathe again because my spirit was whole.
Understanding the value of my existence ignited my spirit. I became a powerhouse full of happiness, peace, joy and love. God blessed me with life for a reason and I was determined to live abundantly regardless of the stereotypical perceptions others attempted to use against me.

Today, I am the flavor of my spirit, the charismatic nature of my soul, the intelligence of my mind, the glamour of my style, the loving temperament of my heart, the ample curves of my body, the beautiful lines of my ethnic features. I am the magnificence of the woman dancing inside my skin. I am me, Miss Kamane’ Malvo, and that’s all the woman I need to be.

Since his mercy endures forever, I am in good hands (Psalms 136).

  Kamané Malvo is a graduate of California State University, Hayward and has a bachelors of arts degree in Mass Communication. She loves words, writing, reading, dancing, and singing. Creativity ignites the passion in her nature. She is positive that her future career lies within print media. She is a gifted writer with a collection of words inside of her itching to be heard. She can be reached at kmalvo@yahoo.com.

The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of GriffinDesigns or TheBlackMarket.com.
Copyright © 1997, 1998 GriffinDesigns

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