By now many people know about #TeacherBae aka Patrice Brown, an elementary school staffer in Atlanta who was penalized for posting professional images to her Instagram account that many deemed inappropriate. Brown has an hourglass figure, and the photos often showed her in curve-hugging outfits.
The debate about whether Brown’s clothing was appropriate waged online for weeks before Atlanta Public Schools stepped in, reprimanding her. It was a disappointing outcome for many black women who were rooting for Brown, and some saw it as an example of the double standard between black women and everyone else.
— stunna (@hoodbratday) September 12, 2016
— 🍂 season (@erikahans_n) September 12, 2016
A black woman is born w/ curves & is discriminated/sexualized, a white woman BUYS those same features and its ‘trendy fashion’ #teacherbae
— ®evolutionary ♠️ (@KuntryCoolBreeZ) September 12, 2016
Over the weekend, Facebook user Sherrell Hood, herself a curvy black woman, shared images of curvy black women professionals and asked ; ‘Why should black women have to hide?’
#NurseBae #OfficerBae #ITBae #TeacherBae
When will people realize that we were created this way.…Tf do we have to hide it for???!!!!! ?? And may I add that they all are qualified to do their jobs and they aren’t showing anything…but curves. ? Smh ? #Beauty #Curves #Melanin
The arguments men and women have made in support of #TeacherBae parallel arguments often made in defense of natural hair in the workplace, i.e. the way black women’s features are interpreted often reveal deep issues with society, and not with the woman herself.
The coily, kinky and curly hair that grows out of our heads is often interpreted as unprofessional or untamed. But it isn’t. It is our naturally occurring beauty. Likewise, the curves of black women shaped like Brown are interpreted as unprofessional, attention-seeking or ‘thotty’ in the workplace. But why should they be, if it is how these women naturally occur?
It seems we are comfortable seeing black women shaped like Brown in music videos or flexing on Instagram. Why can’t we also envision them as professionals, community leaders and mothers?
Let’s keep in mind too that our First Lady, Michelle Obama, is not very far off from Brown in terms of her figure.
And she has been been criticized by media that has, at times, derided her as ‘inappropriate’ or ‘fat’.
It boils down to this; if a black woman has hips, ass or breast for days, and people interpret that as inappropriate, is that her problem or is it theirs?