Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 2nd 2014 Contents 14|
| SERIOUS HUMOUR |
By Roslyn Carrington
HELLO. MY NAME is Roslyn, and I have
no butt. At least, none to speak of.
I own seven pairs of jeans, all Levis, all
men's editions. Whenever I feed my
fetish for denim, I have to explain pa-
tiently to store clerks, sometimes more
than once to the same individual, that,
yes, I do realise I am trying on men's
pants, and, yes, I do know that the ladies'
jeans are right over there. I further explain
that I cannot wear women's jeans be-
cause they tend to sag ridiculously in
the...uh...hindquarters, and slide down
over the area where most women keep
Over the years, I have learned to sit com-
fortably on my tailbone. My name is
Roslyn, and I am not a Rolly Polly.
And now, bacchanal time is here. Wining
time, show-'em-what-you-got time,
In spite of all those women huffing and
puffing up Chancellor Hill every morning
to get into their bikini and beads, Carnival
is the time when big girls are most in
their element. Because this is Trinidad
and Tobago, and here, we overdo every-
Never mind what passes for the ideal in
temperate climes, where size 00 actually
exists, where women are made to feel
ashamed of anything that jiggles and
isn't Jell-O. Where Dove has its Real
Beauty campaign, and the "fat accept-
ance" movement is almost as huge as the
bra-burning revolution of the last century.
This is Trinidad and Tobago, and to a
West Indian man, the only thing better
than a plate of pelau is an overloaded
plate of pelau. The only thing better than
a woman is a whole armload of woman.
And while slender, willowy girls float
some men's boat, most men not only
don't mind a little chunky, they actively
seek it out.
And over the decades these curvy gals
have been immortalised in soca and ca-
lypso. Kitch had his Sugar Bum Bum, Blue
Boy had Ethel, Machel had his Big Truck,
and now Kill@ has his Rolly Polly.
Cue the controversy, because you know
how Trinis stop: if you're going to have
Carnival without controversy, you might
as well not bother to have Carnival at all.
And very often, a lot of that controversy
has to do with how women act, are
treated, are portrayed, or are sung about.
I remember being part of the inaugural
class of Women's Studies at UWI, way
back in the Bronze Age or thereabouts.
Iwer had just dropped Boom Boom Time
on us: "Put a woman in front and a man
behind/Bet your life she bound to wine."
I sat in class and listened to some of our
greatest feminist luminaries expound
passionately on how disrespectful that
song is to women, et cetera, et cetera.
And I struggled the whole time to keep a
straight face, nod politely, and act as if all
that rhetoric was right up my alley. I was
actually scared that someone would look
into my eyes and read my deep, dark se-
The bass line alone is like a drug. I hear it
starting up, and the ball bearings in my
un-padded waistbone start to roll. I could
be lying in bed with both legs in casts, and
if that song came over the radio the
nurses would be begging, "Miz Carring-
ton, Miz Carrington, please stop rotating
Yeah. That's how much I love that song.
So for me, the question that comes to my
mind whenever I hear the Rolly Polly talk
come up isn't about whether it's disre-
spectful or not, to women in general, to
fat women in particular, or whether it
would make less curvy women like me
feel, well, under-endowed.
Because, as always, some of us will hate
a song, and some of us will love it. Some
of us can't stand this performer or that,
and others would throw our underwear
onstage. That's life. That's Mas.
For me, the question is, can you be a fem-
inist, a true believer in equal opportunity,
a woman's right to be respected, pro-
moted, properly paid, sexually assertive,
and everything else that comes to mind
when the term "feminist" arises, and still
love a wining song?
And my answer is yes. Because there
comes a time when we have to learn the
difference between good, clean fun, and
a genuine threat to our liberty, our image,
and our self-respect. Carnival is about
fun, and Calypso is about picong and wail-
ing and wining and lust and magic. As
women we have so much more to worry
about, serious stuff, crime and abuse and
policies that affect our children, our pay
packets, and our personal safety, that a
silly, fun little song pales in comparison.
So let me focus on the big stuff, the im-
portant stuff, and help advance the
causes of my sisters as I can. And come
Carnival, I will raise my arms in the air and
take a little jump, shake the pittance my
mama gave me, and say God is love.
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