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Performing the Body

Performing the Body

Transgressive Doubles, Fatness and Blackness

(p.127) 5 Performing the Body
African Diasporic Women's Narratives
Simone A. James Alexander
University Press of Florida

Grace Nichols renders her eponymous heroine, the Fat Black Woman, visible making her the site/sight of public, political debates as her fat black body functions as a platform, a discursive strategy that permits and validates alternative identity or subjectivity. This alternative subjectivity challenges the concept of fixed identity and ideal citizenship. The ideal body translates to the ideal citizen; as such, fatness and blackness do not qualify, and need not apply. Whilst advocating for fluid identity, the Fat Black Woman critiques monolithic construction of race, sexuality, and national identity. Along these lines, Nichols engages an interesting confluence of fatness and laziness in her poetry collections, The Fat Black Woman's Poems and Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman, drawing on the age-old racist stereotypes of the Sambo and the Mammy archetypes assigned to black subjects. These very archetypes rendered blacks non-persons, non-citizens. Reclassifying the “vulgar,” Nichols exposes that “vulgarity” is innately present in the promotion of “gender- and body-conformity,” fiercely interrogating the practice of exclusionary citizenship.

Keywords:   Vulgarity, Monolithic, Archetypes, Race

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