Often times, I wish that more celebrities were open with their struggles and shared the stories of their life more often so that the standards of perfection could be lowered in some kind of way. In reading Joy Bryant’s personal essay on Refinery 29, you definitely get a glimpse of what it’s like to struggle with body image and it was interesting to hear how she has coped.
She started by saying, “I grew up in the South Bronx, in a predominantly Black and Latino community filled with super fly beauties whose bodies defied gravity… I just knew I hated me: I was too damn skinny and I wanted to be thicker. . I wanted titties, ass, flesh. I didn’t want to be no stinkin’ beanpole. I felt like a sidelined player keeping the bench warm as everyone else played the game I so desperately wanted to be in.”
Not looking like her peers constantly made her feel left out of her community and she readily admits that she didn’t feel comfortable until she went to a predominantly white New England boarding school. “Wait, you mean being skinny is cool here?’ “she recalled of the realization. “Since my body was deemed acceptable, I could accept it in a way I couldn’t before. For the first time in my life, I started to like what I saw in the mirror. I was no longer the skinny loser.”
And interestingly enough, her journey continued to spiral when she got into modeling and people told her that she wasn’t skinny enough. “My body started to change once I hit my mid-30s, filling out here, there, and everywhere. The young Bronx girl in me would have welcomed the change with open arms. The Hollywood me wasn’t so sure. I’d been naturally thin for most of my life, so I didn’t know how to handle the extra flesh gracing my frame at first.” Thankfully Bryant has found peace with her body, and her own definition of beauty saying, “When the world sings that song, sometimes it’s hard not to listen, hard not to agree. But I’ve danced to that tune for too damn long. It’s time to clean out my ears and flip to another station.”