So if you have been following Generalization Y Entertainment web-series “DRTY DIANA” you have been in on a great roller coaster ride so far! Here in Episode IV “Diet” viewers get a transparent view of what effects and impacts the “Black Female Body” via Nyamoi’s personal struggles and relationships. In light of recent events, Black women’s bodies have been a running target in today’s society. They are either becoming fatal disappearing acts, hyper-sexualized, or even worse…ignored. What makes this topic even more interesting (both good and not so good) is that this issue has been ongoing since long before all of us were born. For me this episode is like another step towards exposing the truth and coming to serious terms with it. Body image is a particular issue that effects women and even men, but in particular Black women. Historically, Black women have been put on display, fetishized, commodified, expected to personify an unrealistic look, and have what British feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey coined “the gaze” placed upon them on a daily basis.
We find in this episode, Nyaomi offers a real-life narrative that numerous Black women face constantly…figuring out the ideal body type thus resulting in going on a diet to impress others and thinking of herself last. To be honest, can we really say come to a concrete consensus on the ideal body type, and why should we? Changing one’s aesthetic, eating habits, and fashion threads should take place because that individual desires to change for themselves, not to fit into the ‘it crowd’. Following beauty and ‘ideal’ image trends can be a dangerous (and even fatal) line to walk on.
When thinking about how this all began, many people are aware of how mass media plays a significant role in portraying unrealistic models of beauty, especially for Black women, thus ultimately sending implicit messages that to be beautiful comes at a cost of be unhealthy and neglectful. Body dissatisfaction in women, in general, is a well publicized and discussed phenomenon. Additionally, this episode also offers a discussion on how “women of color” and Black women are conflated ideas. Nyaomi makes an interesting point about this in her discussion with Austin (see below). Certain terms have a level of sensitivity attached to them and cannot simply just be rolled in together. Austin in some ways becomes too comfortable during pillow talk in his “friends with benefits” status with a Black woman…
Episode IV also gives viewers an opportunity to see the complicated, ‘in your face’ moments with regards to aesthetic expectations within Black female and White male relations. Is there something to be said about the White male gaze upon Black women? In some ways Austin resurfaces and modernizes the white male gaze on Black female bodies, much like how Saartjie Baartman (also known as Hottentot Venus)* was treated in the early 1800s.
Although Austin attempts to make Nyaomi feel good about her body and looks, by telling her “You’re skinny and I like you…” this is more like telling her I may like a certain type, that is not necessarily you, but you’re still ok. Ultimately, what has Nyaomi gained from that conversation and how does that remotely make her feel better? Now I am not saying that he should have all the answers, considering he is just a “side piece” and not her significant other, but he should be cognizant of his expectations and likes and how they play a role in their “unique relationship”.
Nevertheless, when it is all said and done, Nyaomi must come to grips with who she is and ultimately make the decision of whether or not she is happy with herself inside and out. It may sound cliche’ but beauty is truly within, and one has to be confident with one’s own body regardless of what is being marketed in the streets. Put it like this everyone cannot be Nicki Minaj, Zoe Saldana, Kim Kardashian, Naomi Campbell, or even a Victoria Secret model…and why should one have to be?
Is it worth it?
All in all, DRTY DIANA lets me further know more creative, real conversations like the many being discussed in Episode 4 are imperative for not just Black women, but all those who come in contact with her. “Diet” goes head first with discussing issues of body perception/image, beauty, complex interracial dialogues about sex, and just feeling good about yourself. Words hold heavy weight, so we must be careful of how we use them… As the saying goes “Love the skin you’re in!!” Why be a carbon copy when you are already an original? And I’m out folks!