One: Last year during my trip to Botswana, a local woman did a double take after hearing me speak.
"Where are you from?" she asked.
"US," I said.
"Agh!" She perked with surprise. "You look like Botswana woman. You have Botswana fi-gaah."
Two: Arriving in Botswana this year, the customs agent droned her questions: nature of visit, number of days, country of residence, country of birth. Hearing me say "USA" twice, I noticed that she hovered above a thought before deciding to speak it aloud.
"You look African."
I thanked her and asked what would distinguish an African woman from a black American woman.
"Your fee-chaas," she said, using an index finger to make a circular motion around her face. I thanked her again, smiling.
Three: Chatting with my hosts as we were leaving a cafe, I overheard two ladies comment as we passed their table about being surprised at my accent (funny. me. from Wisconsin. with an accent) and that I looked like I was from "here."
Five: I've been tugging at my clothes recently and bypassing the garments that, suddenly, hug too tightly. Well, I can't say "suddenly." This slow expansion of my waist has been in the making since fall, one large fry and turtle sundae at a time. Not that I plan to excise either from my diet, I just think I got a bit liberal, forgot that, without exercise, my body will turn those fried and fudge-covered treats into a plethora of unwanted dimples. And, now, I've reached my personal outer limits where I'm wincing at mirrors and editing my favorite outfits. I don't want to spend the summer bemoaning my body and not wearing my best skirts and sundresses. I know what I have to do; I even packed my gym shoes on this trip.
Six: Like most women, my relationship with my body has been a storied one. I've had seasons where I was much bigger, but I've always been ... um ... formidable. Amazonian, even. As a preteen, my petite mother and I were confused for sisters. (Now we get confused because she's ageless!) She wouldn't let me buy a mermaid dress for prom and I thought it was because I was too heavy. Back then, I didn't appreciate that what I have are called CURVES and she just didn't want me to hurt nobody at prom. Ha!
I attended predominantly white schools, so all of my peers who were considered to have great bodies were still a size 6. Yes, I was aware that there were different criteria for "white girl's good body" and "black girl's good body." Best I could tell, though, the credentials for a black girl's good body still involved dimensions I didn't have: rounded breasts, a tiny waist and an ass you could rest your algebra book on.
Seven: For the past decade or so, I've come to truly love my body --dimples, frame, thick limbs, curves. Thanks to Botswana, I will strut about knowing that my body isn't an accident.My Love likes to tell me that my body is ancient, a silhouette of womanhood that has been exalted since the beginning of time (Reason #3865 why I love him).
Eight: I have Botswana fi-gaah. Not that I needed a reason to affirm my body beautiful, but I'll cherish this one. For life.