Pretty privilege is oh so real

Enjoying Carefree? Don’t keep us a secret. Tap the heart to show love & share it with a friend! 😍

Share on Twitter   | Share on Facebook  | Share via email | View past stories

Happy Monday, Carefree,

Last week was a whirlwind, yes? Across our social platforms and communities, we went—in what feels like seconds—from hyping and roasting Met Gala looks to worrying about the future of Roe v. Wade and what it might mean for the future of women’s bodily choice across the United States. This is on top of everything else: the state of the world and the concerns of our own daily lives. There is always something.

But the journey continues.

Here’s hoping that this week offers a bit of respite. Find the time to rest, recenter, and rejuvenate, and make it as much a priority as any other task in your life. And then, if and when you’re feeling up to it, get back to our ongoing collective work: uplifting one another and reimagining our shared future.

This Week’s Story

This week, Adriana shares her experience of successfully losing 100 pounds, a choice she made for herself with her own reasons and intentions in mind. She describes a variety of reactions and responses—some anticipated, others not—from the world around her, and even from herself.

I’ve alluded to this in a previous letter: Black women’s choices on what we do with our bodies, or how we generally lead our lives, frequently gives rise to certain conversations—sometimes valid ones, but also ones that can be intrusive, unwelcomed, or dripping in misogynoir. The unfolding of events right now proves that we will continue to grapple with choices, power, and what it means to have agency under these conditions for quite a while. Adriana’s story serves to remind us that whenever the power is in your hands to choose for yourself, do so, unapologetically. For you.


Tunika Onnekikami

Associate Editor of Carefree Magazine

Photo by April Laugh on Unsplash

I Lost 100 Pounds, So Why Do I Feel Bad?

by Adriana Speaks

I stood on the scale, as I had done so many times before. The digital screen came to life and seconds later, five numbers appeared. Pounds. Ounces. I stared down at the number in vague disbelief. There it was: I’d lost 100lbs. The goal I’d set a year earlier was staring right up at me.

My life was much different than the previous year. And while the simple answer would be to say it was because I ‘felt so much healthier’ with the weight gone, the truth is that my life changed largely because of how the world around me responded to my different physique. I watched, felt, and enjoyed as pretty privilege made its way back into my life.

Because I’m a personal branding strategist, I was more aware of my experience than the average person. I observed as people started to pay attention to my presence in a room where they’d previously ignored me. I dealt with the reality that, no, the way I was ignored wasn’t all in my head, it was because I was bigger and therefore, pretty invisible to a lot of people. So I decided to write about it in a Medium post.

I assumed that maybe a handful of people would read the post and that would be the end of it. Instead, it was read by thousands. I’d receive several emails a day from readers who wanted to share their feedback directly with me. Most of the feedback was positive; people thanked me for being vulnerable about a very real experience. But there were negative comments, too. I received an email from someone who told me that my post was shallow and vapid and that my honesty around enjoying pretty privilege meant that I was yet another person promoting toxic diet culture—that one stung.

I felt myself burn with righteous indignation. This person didn’t know a thing about me, except that I had lost weight and now experienced the world differently. That I was very aware of how bigger people, especially women, are unfairly treated. But as my initial reaction engulfed me, another more sobering thought entered my mind: What if they were right?

I know this world must be more inclusive of more body types and experiences. I know the toxicity of diet culture and thin privilege—I know and feel this more than most. But, I don’t regret my choice.

I have no qualms about enjoying the perks of losing weight in a world that does big people no favors. I enjoy having doors held open for me, a wider dating pool to choose from, and affirming shopping experiences at clothing stores. Going from a US size 18/20 to an 8/10 meant that I had more access to a currency that’s arguably more powerful than the almighty dollar: beauty.

When I was bigger, I never thought of myself as unattractive, ugly, or down and out. I didn’t hide at home, refusing to enjoy life because I’d gained 80lbs over 4 years. I didn’t change as the pounds crept up, even if people’s reactions to them did. I was a realist who knew that my bigger body was not considered a part of the attractive standard; that if I wanted the world around me to change, I was going to have to change a bit, too.

Yes, I wanted to feel healthier—I was out of shape, living a sedentary lifestyle. Diet and movement addressed that as I fell back in love with exercise and cooking. I also wanted to have access to the currency, the life, the experience of being a pretty woman in a smaller body.

In a world where life is hard in so many ways, especially as a Black woman, I made a choice to pick  my battles. I chose to take one burden off of my plate. “Black” and “woman” were loaded enough. Having “fat” removed was a 100-pound emotional release. And I still have a complicated relationship with that.

It’s a weird place to be in, mentally and emotionally. I achieved a weight loss goal, but does that also mean I succumbed to outside pressure by hidden forces? Does my life reflect a failure to resist programming? Did my desire to lose weight mean that I didn’t truly love myself, even though I thought I did? Is weight loss a political statement?

Most days, I don’t think about it much. But I’m reminded sometimes when I’m out and stroll into a store. I peruse whatever clothing catches my eye and for just a moment, remember when this small pleasure—to go shopping knowing that my size would be in store—was not a reality. 

And I remember my choice to have it easier.

Adriana is a creative and strategic pro who’s passionate as hell about equity. She works in advertising and is an executive coach for women who are dynamic and empathetic. When she’s not speaking publicly, coaching, or managing, she’s cooking, traveling, or dancing.

Enjoying Carefree? Don’t keep us a secret. Tap the heart to show love & share it with a friend! 😍

Share on Twitter   | Share on Facebook  | Share via email | View past stories