And So I talk about that Life…

I come from a long line of Fat black women. Form my grans on both sides, to my aunts, and mother (who only became fat once she had me) I have seen and been a part of being Fat and Black (I get the added bonus of being tall lol) my whole life. Luckily, I was raised feeling normal for my size, well at least until I went outside.

That is when I started to see just how different I was. Going shopping with friends and other family members was often dreaded bc I knew my clothing options were going to be abysmal or just inappropriate and ranging between looking like a bag of Skittles Tropical Burst, or a burlap sack MooMoo, oh or lingerie. I could not fit anything displayed in girls or women for that matter, and trying to find a visual que on where I should look based on models was pointless (thankfully, that has changed a ton!).

Age appropriate clothes for a Fat gal that were affordable and could be washed and wouldn’t fall apart was hard to come by for me, so I just became a tomboy. I could at least get appropriate coverage and the clothes were affordable for my size and they fit!

Men’s clothing also made me feel more secure about myself too when I went out in public, I’m pretty sure this had more to do with the fear of being sexually assaulted than anything else, though when it comes to that, clothing doesn’t really matter… How my blackness impacts my weight is a whole other can of worms that deals a lot with opportunities available, fear, and doing what you know vs what you should know.

I remember growing up in public housing and my mom being deathly afraid of not being able to feed us, so when there was a program for food or food bank, she signed up and went out to get what she could. She never wanted her kids to have to deal with anything she did growing up, so we always had plenty to eat. Was it the best stuff we could be eating? No, frankly most of it was incredibly unbalanced nutritionally and loaded with salt, but as a single mother working with kids to feed she did what she could as best she could with her resources being what they were.

A balanced meal wasn’t something I learned about how to make until after high school, and even then I wasn’t actually using what I had learned until I got a better job and could afford to buy good ingredients to make better food (well into my 20s). My food habits have improved a ton, but it has definitely been an experience adapting recipes to my pallet and health while accruing new tastes. I have taken to writing recipes that I have adapted and altered so that I have options that I know work for me when I go to cook and don’t know what to make to keep from falling back into bad food habits (Top Shelf Ramen, talking about you). I’m still not as well off to do as I’d like in regards to my health, but my reality is I’ve always been fat. Even when I lost a ton of weight due to cancer, I was still fat. Is it possible I won’t be fat in the future? Maybe, but that’s not what I’m focused on or care about.

My being Fat and Black is just another part of who I am. With being black impacting so many parts of my life on a micro and macro scale, I was at least ignorant to a lot of that in my youth as I didn’t quite understand how my being black affected me in ways I could word. I mean I knew there was something different, but I just could not put my finger on it. At least until I moved down South (story for another day). I spent a lot of time in my life being insecure of my stretchmarks and wanting to cover myself, but having a woman as confident and big as my Aunty living un-apologetically got me to reevaluate how I presented myself….well once I got to college anyway (life is a journey you know).

It’s one thing to hear you are beautiful or worthy, but it can be hard to believe it when you don’t see it when you look around you. Form the media I consumed to the people in my community that I would observe how they carried themselves to see how I should. The message was clear that my Fat Black ass did not fit in. I tried hard to fit in at first, but then I just was exhausted and decided to be ok with being the other.

Thankfully, I did have amazing people in my life that nurtured my passions and talents which did wonders for my ability to get lost in creating, but even that was impacted by my views on myself. Here I was this fat black gal, but I never drew fat people. I drew black people as dark skinned versions of characters that already existed, but as I ventured into making art for myself more, fat people were not included in anything I made and original black characters were not exactly abundant either.

It wasn’t until my Aunty invited me to visit her in Pittsburgh right as I was about to go to college that I had the big Ah-HAAA moment. My aunty was very proud of me and wanted to spend time together before I started College. I had a blast seeing the other half of my family and enjoyed the shopping trips where she showed me where I could find clothes for my body that fit. That makeover that she did for me really did wonders for my confidence. When we got back to her place she told me to go wild in her closet and I could take whatever I wanted. Ya’ll I got on the Greyhound back to Alabama with 2 garbage bags filled with clothing and my carry on. I clutched those clothes to my body as if they were gold bars.

That summer changed something in me and from that point forward, I started giving more of a damn in how I presented myself when I went out. Putting care into how I dressed myself got me into makeup and built my confidence even more. The last time I visited Pittsburgh when she was alive, I brought my makeup kit with all the makeup I had tested and scoured for that complimented dark skin and gave all the women and guys in the house that wanted one, a makeover. It was a truly beautiful and inspiring moment to see their faces light up at how makeup can be used to highlight what’s already there and that there are options, but it does take some digging to find them.

My Aunty Towanda may be gone now, but she was one of the most empathetic, strong willed, and soft hearted people I ever knew. She was hard on the outside, but she truly cared hard. I’m thankful for having her in my life when I did because she helped me to fill comfortable in my own fat skin which then added to the growing pile of self worth that got me to start being more inclusive of the characters I created and the stories I wanted to tell.

I Want to Talk…

I want to talk about being Black
I want to talk about being Fat
I want to talk about being a Lady
I want to talk about Art

All four of the taglines in that header represent my points of view and what you can expect to find highlighted in my art and writing. Is that all of me? Of course not, but it sums up my identity in a nice and easy to identify package. It’s taken a long time for me to be able to be ok and shoot, PROUD to even describe myself as any of those qualities, let alone all of those together as each one carries its own bias and prejudices attached to it. Through my blog post I mainly talk about the steps I’m taking towards making my comic, but I also talk about my experiences, inspirations, and motivations. This is me sharing my life and experiences. I’m breaking down these tags that I use to describe myself and how they relate/impact the other over the next few post and want to discuss what they mean to me.

On being Black.
I remember there was a time where I wanted nothing more, but to be seen as just another person over being seen as my race. It seems silly to me now bc I am a person, I am also Black. I used to think it was such a great thing to hear someone say, “I don’t see race, I only see people.” In theory, that’s a beautiful statement, but in reality it’s actually erasure. Don’t you see, I am a person, I am also Black. Ignoring my skin color also ignores my history and what having my skin color means.
I would love to say that being Black

hasn’t changed anything about my journey as a human being, but that would be truly indulging fiction when the reality is my art, media consumption, hair, skincare, makeup, food, and the list goes on, have all been impacted by being Black. My art from the subjects I primarily chose to focus on (a journey I have discussed on this blog and still have many words to say about). My media consumption through trying to find and latch onto anything with portrayals of black people with my life experiences that made me feel represented and seen in the shows I loved (as representation does matter believe it or not, it does). Through my hair just existing in its natural state and being viewed as inferior or unprofessional. Through my skincare trying to take care of it without having to lighten it, but also deal with hyper-pigmentation in spots and shaving while black and what trauma to the skin looks like (big YIKES). From trying to find makeup that does not make me look like a clown because the color matching systems in makeup have been known to get real funny once you are darker than a light suntan. To the foods, I have had available to me growing up Black and in poverty that I am still leaning to adjust to accommodate my pallet and well being.
The list goes on and I could go on, but I think this should help with understanding how saying things like, “I don’t see color.” can be hurtful. You could instead say, “I see you as you are and I love you.” In saying those words instead, you validate my existence as I am and show that you care. That means so much more to me.

Saying the other phrase is just… ignorant.

Putting Idle Hands to Work

Over the last (psha when was the last time I posted…hmmnn) year a ton has happened to the world we live in from a societal view. Things are and will be different due to this Pandemic. I find myself thinking how sci-fi this should seem, but it’s reality. I was out of work for 6 weeks and while at home the anxiety, nerves, fear and worry were a constant nag on my sanity (still are as we are still in the midst of the Pandemic as I write this), but I have been back at work since May 1st, so yeah… Staying sanatised, busy, and masked up.

During the whole 6 weeks away from work, I put a lot of my anxiety and nerves at ease by staying busy. It’s true I spent a ton of time playing video games like Death Stranding, Plants vs Zombies, Borderlands and ahhh that’s not important lol, I mean a gal needs to decompress and get lost in some fictional immersion when it’s at the point where hearing someone cough gets folks jumpy. That’s not all I did, I also spent a lot of time reading and researching about color, light, form, storytelling, and making comics in general AND making my CODEX for my comic. All things that I have been doing, but during this time at home, I really got the time to dive deep into these areas and make some good headway on all fronts.

My pent up energy flowed through my fingertips most afternoons (bc ya’ll know I slept in every day!) and into connecting the lore of my fantasy world Magos to the characters that reside in it. Having my darling as a sounding board, and asker of questions I never would have thought about (extremely helpful when trying to figure out character reactions and motivations fyi) made the days fly by. Finally my reference notes and musings on my Fantasy world, it’s customs, and people is done. Something I had been meaning to refine for years completed within the 6 weeks of staying home and trying to stay safe.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot easier for me to understand and see more clearly what I am trying to create in this New Adult Fantasy comic about a fat and black mage gal with a unique ability leaving her hidden home in Faiewood for the first time and making her way to the Institute of Magical, Mystical and Mythical Arts (IMMMA) where here story truly begins in the Heart of Lufiriya; a nation filled with a multitude of beings of magic and technology working and living side by side. It’s a lot to take in for Junah, our protagonist, but it’s also the start of an exciting new chapter in her life (One I look forward to sharing).

Though I don’t think this is something necessary to do for all comic creators or even story tellers, it defiantly is a helpful resource to have as reference if you are working in sci-fi or fantasy. This probably would have been more helpful to hear during the height of the stay at home business, but here I am now and this info still holds true for anyone who wishes to work on getting their story out their, but have idle hands and don’t know where to direct that energy. Gather your resources into a binder, book, word doc, whatever. Just get it together. It may not be what you think you should be doing but hey, starting somewhere is better than not starting at all.

Now that I am back to work and having to manage my time a lot more efficiently, I’m working to figure out the best approach to maximizing my creative output each day. I’ve started doing 1hr in the studio each weekday save Mondays, as Mondays are MagicalMashup! Mondays and is reserved specifically for working on the comic. I’m also breaking all my notebooks up because having all my notes and markings in one book is to confusing to refer back to late. This is working for me, but also means I have like 3 notebooks I carry around daily. Though I also carry a large purse so HA, I’m game.

Next post I would like to share some of the reading materials That I have found *super effective* and how I plan to use what I’ve picked up!

Stay safe.

A friend of mine that is an excellent photographer allowed me to use her work for ref. She takes excellent fantasy mood photos from real life. @freodywn on Instagram