Editor's note: I wrote this piece after a riveting conversation with the brilliant T. Allen-Mercado of Tea & Honey Bread, who is exploring body and self-love in her Sweet Tea Tuesdays series on Moms of Hue.

For years, my ass was my enemy. I hated her. She tortured me. No matter how hard I tried to stuff her into baggy pants and A-lined dresses, no matter how many thick, wool sweaters I wrapped around her, no matter how many ridiculous diets I committed to the cabbage soup diet, the lemonade diet, the no-carbs diet, the eat-nothing-but-air-for-breakfast-lunch-and-half-of-dinner diet I couldn't hide her or make her go away.

I wanted to, though. Wished it with all my might. The stories are legendary, and, if you're a coke bottle black girl, all-too-familiar. I grew up in a town where black boys wanted anything but what I had curves, chocolate skin, a brain and my big brother's mean muggin'. And I was raised and reared at the hand of a black woman who knew that eventually, what I had below my waist would be at a premium around some real brothers. I was all-at-once undesirable and a potential tart. A veritable Venus Hottentot grotesque, untouchable, shameful and sexual, but certainly not sexy.

Then I got around some boys from Brooklyn. And Jamaica and Africa and Compton and Mississippi. All places where black men appreciate the art form that is a black woman's curves. I distinctly remember the night I realized there is, as the comedienne Phyllis Yvonne Stickney once immortalized in a comedy routine, power in the booty: It was during a fashion show my friends had talked me into modeling in. Backstage, the producer was searching for someone tiny but curvy enough to fit into and look dead right in a tight, red, leather mini dress with sky-high black pumps, and the only somebody who could fit into it was, well, lil' ol' me. I didn't want to wear it; it was tight and body-hugging and short and sexy the exact opposite of every stitch of clothing in my closet. She might as well have asked me to walk naked out on that stage. But the producer was about the business not my protestations. Before I knew it, she was squeezing and pulling and tugging me into that dress and pushing me out onto the runway and I was facing the spotlight and an audience full of guys who all seemed to move closer to the foot of the stage when they got a gander of what I was wearing and specifically, all of what I'd squeezed into it. Let's just say I gained a few, um, fans.

I was still uncomfortable with all of this, though, even as I forged a career and stumbled into womanhood and built a life on my own. Even dating and eventually marrying Nick, the King of Ass Men, didn't change the perception I had of myself. I mean, this man has loved me inside and out, up and down, fancy or plain, clean or dirty, sweet or attitudinal, fresh or sweat, fly or foul. And I swear to you, every morning I open my eyes, this man tells me I'm beautiful. No matter, though: I still thought I was too curvy that what I had needed to be hidden.

Getting pregnant changed all of that.

There's nothing like the miracle that is procreation and the birth of a child to remind a woman just how incredible her body is. Honest to goodness, every inch of the parts that I railed against all the way through my late 20s became a huge asset pun intended when it came time to usher my children into this world. My booty is round and dense, my thighs thick, my hips wide what you could call the perfect birthing body. My first baby was born after just three hours of contractions and 20 minutes of pushing. My second was out in three pushes.

My lower body is strong. Solid. Supple.

Perfect for what it was meant to do.

And even though I now have a two-baby booty and a little post pregnancy pot in my belly, a few stretch marks that weren't around before and a couple extra pounds, I've fallen in love with me. All of me. I chalk it up to a certain level of confidence I gained when God put me in charge of two little human beings two little girlpies who look to me for guidance and strength and clues for just, like, how to be. I've written HERE about how I'm trying to help Mari get comfortable with her inheritance; even at the tender age 10, it's clear she's got her mama's figure. And with every lesson I teach her every ounce of self-esteem I pour into my baby I learn to love myself even more, without reservation, without hesitation.

Don't get it twisted: I know I'm not perfect. But that's the beauty of it. Honestly, when I saw Erykah Badu's controversial Window Seat video, in which she strips naked in the middle of Dealey Plaza, I applauded her not for being edgy or questioning groupthink or inviting people to assassinate her work, but because she took off all her clothes and walked with confidence in her thicker, curvier, not-so-perfect-but-still-fly mommy body. She was walking like she meant it like she was clear in her own mind that she's comfortable with exactly who she is.

And as a 41-year-old mom of two I birthed and a third I'm helping to raise, I can say I feel the same way.

Finally.

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23 Comments

  1. Chocolate Covered Daydreams

    Amen! But, I definitely not ready to strip and let it all hang out! :)

  2. Loving this!! Not just the post but the dress too, lol.

  3. Hurray for curves! Let's all jump, squat, lunge, leap, dance and shake to celebrate and shape, not necessarily diminish, the booty. Pirates call "booty" treasure. So should we.

  4. Yes Lioness! I love this post :) I had earlier challenges because I have that natural thickness without the children. But I too have embraced and I can only imagine, how much doper I'll be once my body takes on its mothering shape :) Coca Cola bottle in the house!

  5. yaaaaaaaaayyyyyy!!!!!!

    we are so judgmental towards ourselves, and it's quite sad, but im so glad you came to the point where you can say: my body is beautiful.
    we need that as women.
    in my case, it was that i didn't know what i had and i didn't appreciate my curves, and only after a situation and giving birth, that i KNEW how beautiful my body was (baby belly, stretch marks, cellulite, and all lol)
    curves are the best!!!!

  6. Kudos, Denene! You know this post has so many of our names written across it! I just wrote about loving me, stretch marks and all in a recent post, and I promise you, I felt so liberated after posting the pics of my stretch marks, AKA battle scars. The point is that we are beautiful and powerful and wonderful, and especially for those of us who used our bodies to carry around our perfect little blessings (shout out to Mari, Marley, Lila & Sage), we better not do anything but love ourselves, body, mind, and all!!

  7. T.Allen-Mercado

    Yes! Power to the booty! ::Raises fist:: Denene, I feel a revolution happening in me and not a moment too soon. Of course, like Nick-Joe is all, "I been told you". I needed to hear it from "her", though-the "her" that feels othered by store front windows and ogling men on scaffolds, the "her" that at 36 is still reduced to 12 when it comes to embracing the emergence of "all this ass". The her that is me. Love ya, much-thanks for the blush-inducing shout out.

  8. First, you look awesome!! That's a hot pix! Second, thanks for the empowering message of accepting our physical appearance. When I was younger, I remember all sorts of hurtful nick names and rude comments from men about my long legs. At six feet, I was classified as the "boyish/straight/athletic" body type. Still, I've always wanted to be a little thicker and a bit curvier. I tried eating fatty foods, squats, lunges…NOTHING! My butt did NOT get bigger! Thankfully, after my daughter's birth, I gained a few pounds that aren't going away! More importantly, I've learned to love my body…small, handful of booty and all! :)

  9. I'm so glad you used this picture. I love this picture. Curves and all. Girl, you're making me have a girl crush on you LOL.

  10. That is beautiful! Shoot, while you were wishing your booty away, I was wishing for one, lol. I have thighs and hips that should accompany one, but nope, I missed that boat. Instead, my cleavage is what I carry and have grown to love. Yay! for beautiful mama bodies!!

  11. Jennae @ Green Your Decor

    Emma's mom, I can absolutely relate. Same problem. Hips and thighs, but no booty, and more cleavage than I can handle some days…lol. I've finally come to accept my nassatall, but I'd be lying if I said I was comfortable with some of the other things about my body, and my appearance overall. I'm working on it, and having a hubby who tells me I'm beautiful every day certainly helps. I'm reaching for that moment when I feel like I can really embrace my own beauty, but I'm admittedly not there yet…

  12. GYF Executive Director

    Love the post, and the fly picture!!! My brother certainly loves him some D. with all of your enviable assets ;0)

  13. Gorgeous picture, post, and power.

  14. Squats and lunges will certainly help. I'm telling you ladies, that's the secret towards a great butt for those that aren't blessed with those genes. I find myself wiggling my booty just a little bit more now when I walk (my hubby the butt man loves it) something I couldn't have done 10 years ago. All my bootylicious girlfriends use to make fun about my "no arse at all". I've shown them, Mama got a big ole butt now and WHAT!

    BTW…work it girl, great pic and your family is lovely. Reminds me of my mine :)

  15. MelADramatic Mommy

    Oh how I envy the place you're in. I'm working on getting there but I am my own worst critic. Power to the booty!

  16. Giiiirrrl! *high five*

  17. I have seen the donk in person and it is fab. So fab I had to tweet about it. Denene is one hot mama!

  18. Funkidivagirl

    I love this post! What a great photo…but I know that you look just as beautiful in person too. :-)

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