Bad Fat Black Girl by Sesali Bowen

Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist

Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist by Sesali Bowen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Listening to this book was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Although I probably could have physically read this book quickly, listening to the author read her own work was quite amazing.

After having read Feminist AF by the Crunk Collective, who’s backdrop of feminism is against 90s hip-hop, Sesali Bowen went in a similar direction, but towards trap music as her backdrop, which presents a whole ‘nother experience if you are familiar with trap music.

Hearing the author read her words and hearing her voice, tone, inflection, emphasis, etc., really brought this book to life for me and I was instantly able to connect with the content of her book in a wide open way. Especially seeing that I grew up in the hiphop and trap music era, surrounded by the Black American ghetto of Cleveland, OH.

Although Sesali Bowen focuses on being fat and Black while growing up under the backdrop of hiphop and trap music, Black women can especially relate to her and how our bodies are constantly policed and criticized for any and everything.

Bowen also explores sex work, feminism, Black queerness, classism, sexism, violence towards Black women, and how gender and race play a huge part in how society views Black women who are not the picture of perfection. I feel like this book is a love letter to Fat Black Badass Black women who can easily identify with Bowen, but also Black women who are not necessarily seen as “fat,” but the misogynoir that is directed towards Black women, I feel like we can all relate to. This is a love letter to all of us who grew up in the hood, who had to focus on survival vs being privileged enough to not have the same or similar issues with socioeconomic issues that people in the hood have to deal with.

Although Black people are not a monolith, I feel like we’ve all had similar experiences because we’ve all been forced into certain spaces and experiences because of our race, gender, socioeconomic status and education level. Another thing I related to with Bowen’s work was her ability to meet us all where we are, but has space for people to be who they are whether highly educated or struggling to make ends meet. Just because you came from the hood, doesn’t mean that you can’t politick and are not educated or have no skill set. We should be able to be who we are without policing our bodies, the way we speak and talk to others, the way we move through situations and handle our finances, and handle societal pressures with dignity and be proud of where you come from and your experiences that shaped and molded you to who you are today.

Bowen talks about trap music in detail and the lyrics that is diametrically opposed to certain issues within feminism. For example, how we can be called ‘bitches and hoes,’ in the music, but not be an actual bitch or hoe and still love the music, still love the attention men/people give you, or actually love being the ‘bitch or hoe’ and being successful in selling yourselves in order to get what we need to get. “We do what we have to, when we can’t do what we want to.” She also proclaims that she is ‘with all the shits and not one to try,” and I love that! Bowen’s work makes me feel aggressively self-determined, and I’m so glad her voice is here to give us another perspective of feminism that is focused on Black women/femmes who has been left out of conversations because they don’t fit the ideal picture of what the society feels is the norm.

I am a trap feminist. I’m with all the shits and not one to try! Though I may be highly educated, I’m still from the hood and can come with it if tried on any given day. That is the magic about us, and especially Black women who are the most educated people in this world. We have to navigate so many spaces and places that we need this perspective to feel seen, heard, and acknowledged because though we may nod and pop our fingers to Megan Thee Stallion’s music, but we can also push our dissertations and handle job interviews, all while code-switching (or not), and check a bitch if necessary when we need to.

This book says to me: “Bitch, I gotchu!” Which is used as a term of endearment and a declaration of solidarity, all while processing how those words are often used to demean and belittle us, but can also be seen as a term of friendship, solidarity, and familiarity. I loved it!

5 stars!



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