A Perfect 10

Returning home is always a bittersweet experience. It’s great to be near my family, but there are some things about the South I simply didn’t miss. Like black Southerners’ obsession with fair skin, for example. My complexion is a lot darker than it was when I was younger, which I love by the way, but at least once a week I have someone say to me, “You are so dark now! What happened?” Seriously, people? I don’t have to pass any kind of brown paper bag test to get a job or have the right to vote. Can we be a bit more liberated than that?

On the contrary, the fact that I’ve put on a few pounds since I left (okay, maybe more than a few) has everyone elated. Growing up I was always pretty skinny and I was constantly told by family members that I needed to put some meat on my bones. Now that I finally have womanly shape they think I’m gorgeous (you know, except for the dark skin and all.)

Unfortunately, while I love my complexion and can’t understand why others don’t, I’ve been having a hard time being as fond of my new body.

When I left Alabama for California in 2003 I wore a size 4. I could even get into a 2 depending on the designer. Nowadays, I can wear an 8, but my body is most comfortable in a size 10.

My rational self knows there’s nothing wrong with a size 10. I think my friends who are a size 10 or larger are gorgeous and I know the average American woman is a size 14. But I keep looking at the women in magazines and on TV and I keep daydreaming about my college body and I keep feeling fat.

But it’s time to grow up. I have a womanly body and it’s time to get a grown-up attitude to match.

So to celebrate my size 10 here are 10 promises I’m making to myself today.

1. I promise to stop weighing myself every day.
2. I promise to buy cute size 10 clothes that flatter my figure and stop trying to fit in a size 6.
3. I promise to not feel guilty for having dessert.
4. I promise to exercise for the strength of my muscles, not for a six pack.
5. I promise to stop comparing myself to stick thin models.
6. I promise to eat right for the sake of my health not the size of my thighs.
7. I promise to read full-figured model Crystal Renn’s memoir Hungry. (And I’ll blog about it too.)
8. I promise to stop calling myself fat.
9. I promise to believe my husband when he calls me beautiful.
10. I promise to do what I can to make other women (of all sizes) feel beautiful too.



  1. J…as I was taught to say at a quaker school…”a friend speaks my mind”. I am exactly where you are with my body image. I am 20 lbs away from my hs weight and 10 lbs away from my college weight. Though I have been out of college for 10 yrs. I still think that I should be that weight and yes, I am also a size 10. I would rather be slimmer but I also am well aware that I am not fat or obese. As long as I am healthy and my risk factors are down, that is all that matters.

  2. Did I ever tell you I gained about 75 pounds when I was in college? I lost it all and now I’m back to around the same size I was in high school. I can’t tell you how much I LOVE being able to again fit into a pair of size 8 pants… there was I time when I could really only shop at Lane Bryant. Now, there is nothing wrong with having junk in ones trunk, but my truck runneth over in those days. I’m just saying, when looking at the size 8 from my perspective, it’s a beautiful number. Now, on to this german chocolate brownie my husband just brought me.

  3. well ive been fat/obese/overweight or whatever they are calling it these days since childhood. and have been running after skinny and a single digit clothing size since can remember

    i honestly dont know if itll ever end for me. i just hope im not 85 and still trying to be a size 2 instead of a 12.

  4. Interesting. My weight has always fluctuated. I grew up skinny, started wearing a back brace and blew up, then I lost weight my senior year in HS, then gained weight in college, lost it again when I graduated from college… My family always made sure to point out how much bigger I was than my sister.

    Recently, I lost a lot more weight than I intended, but I like the new size. Now I hear from everyone-family, friends, and Strangers -that I’m too skinny. Good grief!

    I love #s 3, 6, and 8. I’ll put those on my wall and see if they help me too. 🙂

  5. Jai,

    I love this post! It speaks to me on so many levels. I always had darker skin and I was mercilessly teased when I was younger. It was so bad that I was like what can I do to get lighter? And it didn’t help that there were people in my family who had color issues as well. But as I matured, I learned to truly love the skin I’m in. To each his own but I LOVE being chocolate and would have it no other way. So kudos to you for loving the skin you’re in too!

    As for the weight, girl, you are beautiful and I think you look great! I have gained weight over the years and it’s not a good thing but for health reasons versus looks. But I do understand how you feel and where you’re coming from. I myself am indeed over a size 10 but have learned as I have matured to love me no matter what. I think your 10 things list is great. Especially where you said you will not feel bad about eating dessert and eating better for your health. That is where I am now and striving to be as well. Yes, I desire to get some weight off…there is some of the, I want my clothes to look better but it’s more about being healthy and the desire to live a long, full and productive life.

    I think that you have the right attitude with your 10 points list and I applaud you for this post. Thank you for writing about something that is so important to so many.

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