Carnival is woman…but not just any woman

Women’s public performance is always political, the fat black woman’s even more so.  There mere fact that this video* is circulating so widely is because people view the fat black woman’s performing body as disruptive and “unruly” (to draw on the work of Jamaican literary scholar Andrea Shaw.)

Some people argued that images of this woman would deter tourists from visiting Trinidad and Tobago for carnival.   This calls up how women’s bodies are used to signify the nation, in ways that are ultimately harmful for women.  Despite this nation being one where “every creed and race find an equal place” the fat black woman’s unruly political body is out of place, especially at carnival which itself has become a more commodified, commercially driven enterprise which re-inscribes class divisions rather than turning them on their heads as carnival has been expected to do.

Not just any body can represent the nation.  (Think of how he Caribbean’s beauty queens have traditionally been light-skinned, middle-class and slim.)

Trinidadian comedian Rachel Price had this to say:

That have to be CONFIDENCE to leave yuh house with nothing but red lace. When de holes in yuh arse that bigger than the holes on de road to Lopinot and of ALL words SEXY THING on the drapes posing as a panty ???

Yup, a fat joke! A cheap ridiculing of one woman out to have a good time.  What strikes me as most disturbing is the assumption that a fat woman couldn’t and shouldn’t be confident.

You would think that generations of fat, black Caribbean women who have refused to know their place would have put an end to such ignorance and prejudice.

Andrea Shaw’s The Embodiment of Disobedience: Fat Black Women’s Unruly Political Bodies is available at Amazon.

This post was originally posted to our facebook page and tumblr.  Read a response to our post from the roots and rights blog.

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