mas (noun) WEST INDIAN – carnival celebrations. 1. “mas bands”
más (adjective) SPANISH – more
All my skinny days I would have never been caught dead on the streets of Kingston in a bedazzled bikini! Fast forward to today …at 200 + LBS I proudly bear it all for Jamaica and the world to see!
Last week Jamaican social media was buzzing about a newspaper feature on plus size ladies and mas. The average Jamaican had A LOT to say. Unfortunately, most of the comments were less than flattering.
At the end of last year’s road march, I overheard some “on-lookers” blatantly criticizing the bodies of passing revellers which made me so angry. I thought to myself, in 2017 why were people still so hung up on an “ideal” body that may I add NOT ONE OF THEM EVEN HAD!
When did carnival become an excuse for people to body shame?!
Jamaica Carnival admittedly has absolutely no cultural significance in Jamaica. It was literally started because a group of friends missed Trinidad Carnival thanks to Hurricane Gilbert. However, the real roots of Carnival in the Caribbean is so much bigger than stretch marks, a gut or anyone being too fat to play mas.
History of Carnival and its Elements
The Mas tradition started in the late 18th century with French plantation owners organizing masquerades (mas), dinners, balls, concerts and hunting parties extending from Christmas to Ash Wednesday.
The Africans started to participate in the festivities from 1833 after the Emancipation Bill was passed. The Africans brought Canboulay to its festivities. Canboulay (from the French cannes brulées, meaning burnt cane) is a precursor to Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. Canboulay was first played on August 1st, Emancipation Day, but subsequently took place after midnight on Dimanche Gras, the Sunday before Carnival.
Source: http://www.ncctt.org/new/index.php/carnival-history/history-of-carnival.html & Wikipedia
For me, playing mas represents freedom and joy. It is an exhilarating experience that, contrary to popular belief, is not necessarily for the genetically skinny or gym sculpted body. Kudos to all the designers creating an avenue for all forms and shapes of females to feel confident and sexy for Carnival.
Black women come in all shapes and sizes, therefore, there is no need for us to restrict our beauty standards. Within my band I saw every ethereal representation of the black woman and it was a splendid sight to behold.
So to all you body shamers, look within yourselves and sort out your own issues because only HURT people actually hurt people.
To all my fluffy masqueraders…you ladies killed it on the road!!!!
Thanks for reading fam!