So let me be clear here. I don’t think all white people dislike Serena Williams. In fact, she’s an elite athlete in a sport that’s not typically considered one dominated by black people. And yes, she’s an elite athlete because of her skill, training and overall badassery but also because of her large fan base.
Serena Williams has a large fan base, and it’s made up of a lot of white people.
This is a fact.
So my post isn’t about all of those white people who love Serena Williams or admire her. My post is about those white people who feel the need to speak abusively about Serena by saying she’s built like a man or looks like a savage or any other cruel, racist, sexist, rude, uncivilized and dehumanizing things that have been said about her over the years.
Yes these things are happening because Serena is black. But there are plenty of elite black, female athletes that don’t get the same level of vitriol and hate that Serena gets. In fact, her sister, Venus doesn’t get it quite as bad as Serena does. Don’t get me wrong. Venus does get her fair share of hate and vitriol, too. (this isn’t a pissing contest for me to say that one sister gets more hate than the other)
But the reason I think that Serena gets it the way she does is not just because she’s black. It’s because she’s so unapologetic-ally black.
Black women’s bodies have historically been sexualized, but when it comes to comparing our bodies to that of white women, we’re often fat shamed. The reason why we have larger booties, thicker thighs and larger hips is because we’re fat. So it’s easy to dismiss those features as the result of our bad diets and poor fitness habits.
But when you look at Serena, you are seeing a woman with virtually no body fat who’s body has been fine tuned over the years through constant working out and competition. Her thick thighs, large booty and hips aren’t due to her being fat. They’re due to her being black…unapologetic-ally black.
That makes those particular white people feel some kind of way (who knows what way specifically, and it will likely vary depending on the person) but rather than honoring their feelings, they find a way to make her shape ugly by comparing her to an animal or saying she’s built like a man. This is one of those subversive forms of racism that isn’t always openly discussed. People tend to focus on the insults and the negativity rather than focusing on why it’s happening.
So in this case, I won’t take the time to address the ridiculous and disrespectful things that are said about Serena. I will posit my idea about why I think it’s happening.
She is an elite athlete who works out for a living and in spite of it she has curves that many women aspire to have themselves. She is definitely my body goal. I have a few pictures of her on my phone for inspiration when I don’t feel like working out or want to buy a bag of chips from the gas station. She gives curvy brown women like myself an idea of how we can realistically look if we work hard. Growing up, I didn’t have many physical role models. What I had were the doctor’s medical charts constantly saying I was overweight. So I always felt like I was overweight.
But in seeing Serena, an elite athlete, with a similar body type to me (I am faithfully doing squats to get even a semblance of her booty), I see that it’s possible to be a top performing athlete who works out for a living, with curves. And that makes me realize that my body isn’t the way it is solely due to poor eating habits and lack of fitness.
Please keep in mind that I’m not writing this to excuse poor eating habits and lack of fitness. I’m writing this to share my thoughts about why some white people seem to hate Serena. She goes against something that people (white and otherwise) have been able to tell themselves about black women – that our curves are due to poor eating habits and lack of fitness. Serena’s body is a complete contradiction to that. People often don’t like contradictions.