Q&A with Activist Sharfia James

Sharifa’s reflections on, hopes for and words to her body. And her message to you.

By Ellen Downes
Wed 22 Dec 2021

Sharifa joined me for an Every Body’s Instagram Live. We spoke about her relationship with her body – the journey it’s been on and her hopes for its future.

She is a QTIBPOC activist and co-founder of Kiki Bristol, a space championing diversity and representation in Bristol’s LGBTQ+ community. She’s a freelancer who describes herself as ‘unapologetically Black and Queer’ and she has the most gorgeous and refreshing warm and open energy about her.

Sharifa (AKA Gold Fro on socials) models as well as running workshops in schools and at venues around Bristol. She came to my studio recently to have her body cast in gold by me, and she was as full of joy and contageous giggles then as she was when we did this gorgeous interview. I am such a big Sharifa fan!

3 words to describe your body:

Strong, soft and loved.

What do you love about your body?

I love the entirety of my body. I love it for getting me to where I am now. It’s been through a lot but it’s in a good place now.

I actually can’t choose one single part of my body that I love the most – I love all of me. I am a black, bigger-bodied queer woman with an ‘unconventional’ body according to society. Women, especially black women, are often told how we’re meant to look to be able to love ourselves. But I don’t subscribe to that – I love myself on my own terms.

What would you like to love about your body?

This is so difficult to answer. I suppose I’d like to be fitter. Not for asthetic reasons though, as you can tell i’m very happy with the way my body looks! But I’d like to feel physically stronger. I’m a very sporty person, I used to box a lot and I’m also a footballer.

What would you say to your 10 years younger self?

I was 23 10 years ago! I was a lot thinner and smaller then. I was playing semi-pro football. I was super, super fit. It’s funny, because even though I was smaller, I wasn’t happy with my body.

My body was more ‘convential’ but still, as a black woman, my body was still bigger than other players in my football team. I got teased for my ‘bubble butt’ and the size of my thighs. I was self-conscious about wearing skirts and things, I covered up a lot.

It took a while for me to unpack my insecurities and learn to be comfortable in my skin. So, I’d tell my younger self: Love yourself! Have therapy and surround yourself with good people. This will pass, and it will get better.

What are your hopes for your relationship with your body in 10 years’ time?

I hope I embrace the process of growing older. I hope that I’m content with how my body will be changing and moving with time. Even if my body ceases to be as strong and able, I want to continue to love myself and appreciate my body.

Her words to you:

Being naked is great. I encourage you to get naked, on your own or in the company you’re most comfortable in. Look at your body, observe it and learn, at whatever pace you’re at, to love that way it looks and moves.

Every body is beautiful.

Every Body's Story Book

The bodies of 30 women aged 20-75 and the stories they hold
Every Wednesday I ask an inspiring creative 5 questions. I ask them to reflect upon their relationship with their body and they share their experiences and the lessons they’ve learnt with us.

You can watch the Q&A LIVE via the Every Body’s Story Instagram every Wednesday at 5:30PM.

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