Woman Crush(ing the Patriarchy) Wednesday: Yesika Salgado

Woman Crush(ing the Patriarchy) Wednesday: Yesika Salgado
Elmer Ayala

Has poetry helped you realize your own self-worth and beauty?

It definitely helped start the process, which began maybe two or three years ago. The first line of my “Honest Poem” says, “This weight is the most difficult thing to write about.” It’s true. Through writing about this I am putting my fears and insecurities about my body out there. But something happened: people were relating and feeling empowered by it. This allowed me to explore myself more, helping me and moving me in a direction where I feel OK with being a fat woman talking about love and sex. My confidence has grown. That’s why visibility is so important. It’s crucial to see a fat Latina on a stage, taking up space. Others see that and know it’s OK for them to do it, too.

What does body positivity mean to you?

For me, body positivity is just accepting your body in whatever state it is. I encourage people to celebrate their bodies through selfies. I post often. You have to take pictures on your good body image days so that on the bad days you have something to look at and remind you of your beauty and strength. You’re not going to love your body and celebrate it every day. Body positivity is saying I’m not happy with my body now but I will be again. It’s allowing yourself to say, “I’m insecure today.” It’s having a relationship with your body and being OK with whatever state that relationship is in.

What is it like to be a brown woman of size in this movement, particularly as thin white women are often centered?

Exhausting. I don’t see myself in many places, so I take on the responsibility of being as visible as possible. That can be fun at times, but there are also days when you want to see others like you killing it. The struggle with the body positivity movement centering on white women is difficult because they have different relationships with their bodies. Our fat brown bodies are hypersexualized. We become sexual objects for others, a fetish, not a sexual being. That’s what makes it “OK” for guys on Tinder to reach out to me by just saying “DTF?” and why I’m shamed when I’m owning my own sexuality. Brown girls also have a complicated relationship with food, and I’m not saying that white women don’t, but when you come from a culture that celebrates everything and food is a part of every celebration, things become increasingly complicated. There are layers.

Tell me about Chingona Fire.

I’m so excited. Chingona Fire is something I started with one of my best friends, and fellow brown poet, Angela Aguirre. We both came into the Los Angeles poetry scene around the same time, and for a long time we’ve been the only consistently active Latina poets. We didn’t understand how in Los Angeles, where there are so many of us, we are not touching the stage. As we started becoming vocal about our feminism, we knew we needed to demand more space, even if we were the ones creating them. Women have always been behind poetry events, so we want to continue that tradition by curating events and spotlighting other badass Latina poets. Chingona Fire is creating spaces for us and celebrating us without apologies.

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