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What carnival taught me about body confidence and freedom

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In August I went to Grenada in the Carribean for the first time. I was there with a group of girlfriends to take part in Carnival. Prior to this I had mainly thought of Carnival as a party but this experience in the islands brought home to me the deep underlying politics of what on the surface appears like sheer fun mixed with hedonism. Besides, like a Black queer elder reminded me recently, it is political for Black people to be hedonistic and to revel in our own bodies and pleasure. And this was one of the first lessons that Carnival reinforced for me. It’s a season to let loose, and cast aside all constraints. You’d think that as a woman who has been blogging about sex and sexualities for a really long time I’d find that easy to do. Not true. One of my goals for this trip was to have a holiday romance. Did that happen? No. Why not? I think it was all me. I’m used to, or rather prefer people hitting on me but in a sea of extremely hot, confident women, I didn’t feel like I stood out at all. I also just recognised that I just didn’t have the game that others did. I saw my friends easily start conversations with men we happened to be sitting next to on a boat cruise for e.g. whilst I was the person who was spotting people I fancied but never opening my mouth to say hi. Meanwhile I am fully capable of shooting my shot, but somehow on this trip I never did. And so my second carnival lesson is ‘shoot your shot!’ or at least be honest with yourself about why you just can’t do it.

Danait, Kimalee and Nana Darkoa

My absolute favourite part of carnival was how little clothing women of all shapes and sizes wore. I was here for absolutely all of it. Me with my fragile sense of body confidence had gone for the maximum amount of body coverage my carnival outfit could give me – high waisted panties, tights and all. Yes, for me, it was sexy but I lived for the full figured women strutting their stuff in a thong and feathers. I was like yasssss, that’s the body confidence I need in my life. And that was the best feeling of all. Being in an environment where women felt free to just be themselves. Freedom is everything is my final Carnival lesson

*Photographed in the featured image are: Danait, Samantha, Kimalee, Simone and Nana Darkoa

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