11/25/2014 02:36 pm ET Updated Nov 25, 2014

Thick. Fat. Good.

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In the South, we’re known for appreciating a “thick” woman, and for a very long time, I was upset that I didn’t have the hips, ass, and breasts my people lift in praise. My mother takes great pleasure in telling stories about how my adolescent self used to stand in the mirror, wondering where my curves were. If I’d had three wishes, one of them would’ve been to give me a fuller, more desired figure. Then I went to college in a city with some of the best food in the country. I found the curves I’d been looking for, and then some. I could tell my then-boyfriend wasn’t thrilled with the weight gain either, but family and friends kept telling me I finally looked like a woman.

After college graduation, I felt good about my weight because I was working out, and the weight had settled more proportionately. My exercise playlists were filled with hip-hop and r&b songs that were dedicated to bodies like mine that didn’t get acknowledged in film and television, unless the women were promiscuous or prostitutes. Sometimes there may have been only one or two lyrics focusing on women with ample figures, but it would be enough. During a time when video vixens had become the cultural equivalent of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders of my youth, I could imagine myself in a hip-hop video. And so I’d kick a little higher, squat a little deeper, knowing I was worthy of song.

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