I owned it the first time someone used the word “unapologetic” to describe my confidence. “Unapologetic…? Yeah, that sounds about right,” I said as I waved my finger and channeled Beyoncé, “I ain’t sorry,” I affirmed. And while I have always been confident, I ran with the new term and felt that “unapologetic” strain of confidence I never knew that I had.
More recently, I was asked for—what feels like—the hundredth time, “How were you able to achieve that unapologetic confidence of yours?” I sat there for a minute, not stumped, but almost trying to control a natural eye roll. And this was on camera, too. I began to think to myself: Where did this word “unapologetic” come from and why is it repeatedly being used to describe the confidence that plus size women have? At that very second—ON CAMERA—I felt sorry.
I’m sure the camera man and the woman interviewing me could see the happiness drain from me as the seconds passed. I thought to myself, “I shouldn’t be confident, but I am…that’s what this word “unapologetic” means, right?” The beautiful, thin woman sitting on the other side of the room blinked inquisitively, awaiting my response to the question she asked 30 seconds ago. I think I diverted, or gave my usual response. But I don’t remember because for the rest of the interview I was pondering the previous responses I gave to this question for the last year or so. Thankfully, that interview never aired.
You see, unapologetic means, well, to not be apologetic. And by using that word to describe someone’s confidence, you are sort of implying that they have something to be sorry for in the first place. I try to think about other women that I would ask that same question to, “How were you able to achieve your unapologetic confidence?” And honestly, I would genuinely feel like an a**hole asking ANYONE that question. But time and time again, I see the term “unapologetic” coined mostly toward plus size women. And get this: Plus size women often ask other plus size women this question, too!
Imagine asking a thin woman why she is so unapologetically confident. You wouldn’t because it is just assumed that thin people are confident and attractive. And just like how you *naturally* know this, they know it, too. It’s science/psychology, y’all. But when it comes to plus size women—who by society standards have been deemed “not ideal”—people feel that it is their birth right to ask us why we are so confident all the time.
Here is a real-world example: Every time Ashley Graham is interviewed, she is asked about her confidence and how she maintains it. But how many times do they ask other, thin models and celebrities about how they stay confident? Rarely. To be fair, the only time the media asks those thin celebrities about confidence is after they have had a baby because, well, most women gain weight when they are pregnant, and gaining weight is STILL—by society’s standard—not attractive or ideal.
So why would anyone feel confident with a few more pounds on their hips? *Sigh* I recently read an article about Ashley Graham’s appearance at the Met Gala with the headline, “Ashley Graham puts her body at the center of Met Gala.” LOL. If we are speaking literally here, so did everyone else, and some—wearing nothing but pearls or sheer mesh—did more than others. But why are we only talking about Ashley Graham’s body? Because it’s still shocking that plus size women are boldly and confidently strutting their stuff. So, the media has to put a name on that kind of confidence because it’s not the same confidence that Chrissy Teigen or Heidi Klum feel. It’s “unapologetic.”
If you still think “unapologetic” is a harmless word—and maybe it is, because we all have our own opinions here—consider this: As much as I want to say that I have never felt sorry for being fat, plus size, curvy, or full figured, it’s just not true. I subconsciously still feel bad when I take up a little more than one seat on the bus, or accidently bump into someone with my butt or hips. But I never thought about how many times I felt sorry, until someone used the word “unapologetic” to describe my confidence. It feels like a reminder that I should be sorry for taking up space. Why can’t I be as confident as every other woman on this planet? Why does my confidence get a limiting adjective put before it?
Because I am plus size.
The word “unapologetic” puts a limit on your confidence, and it serves as a reminder that you shouldn’t feel too confident, because at the end of the day, you still don’t fit into society’s idea of beauty.
Now, every time I am asked about my “unapologetic confidence,” it makes me wonder how many plus size women have apologized for being curvy, for taking up space, or for simply having visible confidence after fighting against all odds and stereotypes to achieve self-love. If you are reading this, I just want you to know that you don’t have to feel sorry for any of those things, including completely and fully loving the skin you are in. So, the next time someone tries to hide the shine of your confidence with the word “unapologetic,” correct them. Go forth, and be confident. PERIOD.
Follow Natalie on Instagram @nataliexcraig and online at www.natalieinthecity.com!