I am constantly in flux between feeling like I own my body and feeling like the world owns it. I feel liberated, powerful and regal putting on my favourite red dress, but in a second can be torn down as soon as that man on street decides to grab my ass as I’m walking home from the party with a shawarma in my hand. Flux: being on top of the world, cycling as fast as possible with Lizzo in my headphones with my dress falling just above my thigh, but then plummeting again when a group of guys decide to ask if my ass was real (true story).
I feel like in this country, I am put on a pedestal more. I am half-Danish, but also Nigerian and Irish from my mother’s side. The amount of times growing up I wished to be a skinny blonde-haired girl named Mette or Alma is countless. I thought I had moved on from that part of my life. I thought that I was finally owning myself and taking strides towards self-love and acceptance. But moving back to Denmark, I am re-entering this unfortunate stage of being a revolving door of identity. Wanting to assimilate and make myself hidden. But I can’t be hidden. My body is out there, and the world wants a piece of it.
I’m not an Mette, Alma, Birgitte or Annette. Both of my parents are not from the same country, and I didn’t have a typical childhood home that I grew up in all my life. I’m an Isabella. I am Nigerian, Danish and Irish and I have moved around all my life. I have stretch marks, cellulite and do NOT fit a size 8 jean. I have privilege and I am void of it.
I am bored of people asking me at parties where I’m from. I will never be able to give them the right answer because it will always be a case of “you’re not THAT Black” or “but you’re not actually Danish”. I have become this malleable vessel, adapting to whatever the other person wants me to be or say. And honestly, it’s exhausting. Denmark, I am tired to be inside of you sometimes.
Another note on self-love. I think there is a common misconception that acceptance and happiness with oneself has an upward trajectory. As in we can just see a quote on Instagram or buy an Urban Outfitters tote bag and be like “I reallydolove myself now! Thanks Capitalism!” Because it isn’t like that. Life doesn’t always get better when you’ve been at your lowest. Friends let you down, you get a shitty grade and hearts get broken (mine has, and that has really stunted my growth recently). Self-love should not be taught by capitalism, a system that is created to make you feel worse about yourself. It should come from YOU, blossoming from within. The way you view yourself will be like a yard of dirt and weeds at first. You rip out those roots of self-doubt and hatred deeply embedded into your psyche because that is all you’ve ever known. You sow new seeds of forgiveness and patience, allowing to view yourself in a new light. Nobody else can do this for you. Audre Lorde said that self-care is an act of “self-preservation” and hence “an act of political warfare”. Some would argue that that is a little extreme. However, it reallyis work, it’s not merely putting on a face mask and taking a no make-up selfie. Self-love is a form of personal activism, as you’re openly defying the norm in not hating yourself and conforming to what society dictates as attractive or acceptable.
I am writing this piece in a very peculiar place in my life. I wish to use this as a type of time capsule, I hope to read back at it at a later date to discover that I had moved on from some of these issues, but it’s hard to predict growth like that.
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