Dear Jazmine Sullivan,
First and foremost I have to thank you for making yet another album that helps me clean my house, stay awake on the Garden State Parkway, and forgive myself for some of the stuff I did when I still had a BlackBerry pearl.
I appreciate you sis. Thanks heaux much!
Secondly, thank you for spreading the message that your winning season and your dress size are not related.
I know I’m just a measly culture and lifestyle writer and you may never see this message (considering the way the internet does Black media dirty) but I wanted to personally express gratitude for the many lives I know you changed by speaking your truth on stage in your speech at this year’s Soul Train Awards.
So many women feel like their engagement photos, wedding ceremonies, awards dinners, and graduation parties are not as special because they are not the size they thought they would be when they reached that moment.
Doctors, lawyers, stock brokers, screenwriters, and media professionals cloud their celebrations with the constant critique of their bodies overshadowing the accomplishments of the person living inside of the body and who can blame them when they are living in a world that encourages them to hate themselves? When department stores do not even stock “occasion wear” in their size it’s clear to these women that they are not expected to be winning.
Even as I type this message celebrating you for not putting a milestone in your life on hold because of your “quarantine baby,” I know that I have been guilty of turning down huge professional opportunities for fear of how my appearance will impact the way my work is perceived.
So I know the pressure is a million times worse for you.
Celebrities frequently vanish from public view after catching a glimpse of themselves on a screen or red carpet from what they consider an “unflattering angle,” skipping out on a chance to discuss the merits of their work because they regret that they can’t present what society considers to be “perfect” image while doing so. While they go stretch out at somebody’s wellness center or lock in with a personal trainer no one making $18 an hour can dream of affording everyday people feel bad about themselves and skip making memories so they can emulate them.
The moment I heard you reveal the fact that you made a “promise” to the woman you see in the mirror that you would not “hide anymore,” I knew that would force thousands of women to confront the fact that they had been hiding.
You and the pristine baby hair you climbed those steps with did not have to do that, but you did and it mattered to me. You being your full self will allow others to.
We live in a time where big names are happy to take money from Black women while spitting in their faces. It has become normal to listen to a performer hawk their wares to Black women one minute and cuss them out the next.
You have never come for us without love in your heart, no matter what challenges you face in the spotlight, and I am so grateful for that.
It is one thing to spread a message of self love on a track and it is quite another to use a moment that you could have rightfully claimed for yourself to uplift, support, and champion the very Black women who you with in your art.
We loved you from the opening notes of “Need U Bad” and we will continue to love you because you keep it real with us.
From me – the reporter insecure about the gaps in her teeth, my homegirls at HelloBeautiful, the single moms pressured to snap back, the bridesmaid who is embarrassed the chosen dress doesn’t come in her size, the curve model getting death threats from trolls, those battling health issues that affect the size of their bodies, those comparing themselves to celebrities with resources they will never have, and the 8th graders sneaking their mom’s debit card to order teas with vague ingredients so they can post before and after shots on TikTok thanks for not leaving us behind.