The word Queen is defined as “the female ruler of an independent state, especially one who inherits the position by right of birth.” Let’s break that down, shall we?
The female ruler of an independent state: She is in control of her world. The choices she makes are hers and hers alone. She decides how she views her self and defines how others see her as well….She is sovereign.
Especially one who inherits the position by right of birth: As human beings, we are all BORN with the right to decide how we feel about ourselves or otherwise and absolutely no one can deny us that right….. Especially when it comes to our image.
Since, basically the beginning of time, society has been telling women how to look. Not much bigger than this and not too much darker than that…. it’s all a load of crap, which is how Ryan Pearson saw things too. So, she created Homage to my Hips. When I asked her about it, she had this to say.
“Homage to My Hips” is a photoshoot project I developed, featuring myself and five other full-figured women I know. It began as a simple boudoir shoot, but evolved into a celebration of body acceptance, sexiness and sensuality — a reflection of plus sized Black women and our bodies we do not often see displayed in media. With each woman free to explore and exude her own sexy from playfully coy to seductive,”Homage to My Hips” is a proclamation: We are sexy, we are big, we are Black, we are beautiful, and we love it, every inch and every curve. It’s a message to plus sized women to love their bodies and embrace their sensuality, with no apologies.
When asked about her inspiration for this project, Pearson said it was reflective of her personal experiences. She went on to say:
I think what we consume is so important, and changing what images I was consuming helped tremendously. I also began reading a lot of information about body positivity and fat acceptance, and that further helped me start to truly love my body. When Lane Bryant released their “I’m No Angel” campaign feauturing plus size models in bras and panties as an alternative to Victoria’s Secret Angel Ads, I was very inspired by the boldness of that move. It was so refreshing to see women who weren’t thin represented as sensual and sexy.
As with all things inspiring, there is usually some back lash to follow. In the case of people accepting their bodies as is, health concerns top the list. We realize that “when it comes to plus size people, everyone suddenly is a doctor.” Pearson makes a good point in saying
We all have a number or size on both sides of the spectrum (big or small) that is unhealthy for us, but that is truly different for each person individually, based on a variety of factors including genetics. What society seems to not realize is that you cannot look at a person’s size and soley determine they are unhealthy when you know nothing else about them except what you see. I’ve been around excessive smokers and drinkers and people rarely ever make them feel bad about their choices, yet people are quick to give out unsolicited diet advice and weight loss tips to plus size folks, primarily women. It’s rude and ridiculous and assuming. And let’s just say every last one of us were actually unhealthy: it’s our lives, we don’t need or deserve ridicule or shaming, regardless.
She has no fear of change, she’s an advocate for mental health and that is her major concern. Ryan says,
The effect of not being content/accepting of yourself is a poor body image, which is very damaging to mental health, and no one ever talks about that. I’d rather people be happy with themselves being big, than hate themselves trying to be thin any day. I think people should do whatever is best for them and will make them happy and healthy all around, without the influence of what other people think. If that means losing weight, great, if that means loving their current body, that’s also great.
On realizing that her pet project wasn’t just a photo shoot with friends:
The initial goal of “Homage to My Hips” was just to do a boudoir photoshoot that featured plus size Black women. In fact, we didn’t even have a name for it! But as I began to coordinate the project, I saw that it was becoming something bigger than that, even before we publicly shared the photos. During the actual shoot, we all felt so beautiful and sexy and free, and I remember thinking, if we could inspire this feeling in more women and girls, there would be less incidences of self hatred and eating disorders. I remember wishing that I’d had images like these to look to for inspiration when I was a teenager and young adult, and how that would have positively shaped how I viewed my body. For a long time I felt pretty, but not sexy, and that’s because I rarely saw someone with my figure being portrayed as such. I recognized that this project had the potential to be much bigger than myself or the other ladies who are a part of it, and that we could really incite inspiration and radical body acceptance within the plus size community.
THERE IS POWER IN THIS…. Women who think for themselves and are accepting of themselves are true Queens. Check out some of the photos below and like the Homage to My Hips Facebook page!