Health and Fitness

Agree or Disagree? The REAL Reason Most Black Women are Fat

I can’t believe what I’m reading in the New York Times this Sunday morning. Alice Randall, a writer in residence at Vanderbilt University and the author of “Ada’s Rules,” wrote in her opinion piece, “Black Women and Fat,” the key reason 4 out of 5 black women are fat is because…get this…THEY WANT TO BE.

How many white girls in the ’60s grew up praying for fat thighs? I know I did. I asked God to give me big thighs like my dancing teacher, Diane. There was no way I wanted to look like Twiggy, the white model whose boy-like build was the dream of white girls. Not with Joe Tex ringing in my ears.

Randall also argues that black women use fat as a statement of political resistance.

And it’s not only aesthetics that make black fat different. It’s politics too. To get a quick introduction to the politics of black fat, I recommend Andrea Elizabeth Shaw’s provocative book “The Embodiment of Disobedience: Fat Black Women’s Unruly Political Bodies.” Ms. Shaw argues that the fat black woman’s body “functions as a site of resistance to both gendered and racialized oppression.” By contextualizing fatness within the African diaspora, she invites us to notice that the fat black woman can be a rounded opposite of the fit black slave, that the fatness of black women has often functioned as both explicit political statement and active political resistance.

Get fat and get back at the man! Let’s be the anti-ideal! Who cares if we get diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart disease! Obesity is KOOL, like those cigarettes!

But don’t think Randall is advocating black women perpetuate these ideals. Rather, she’s all about a cultural change, and I back her 1,000,000%.

WE have to change. Black women especially. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, blacks have 51 percent higher obesity rates than whites do. We’ve got to do better. I’ve weighed more than 200 pounds. Now I weigh less. It will always be a battle.

So here’s her fat-black-lady challenge. Read it, and pass it on:

I call on every black woman for whom it is appropriate to commit to getting under 200 pounds or to losing the 10 percent of our body weight that often results in a 50 percent reduction in diabetes risk. Sleeping better may be key, as recent research suggests that lack of sleep is a little-acknowledged culprit in obesity. But it is not just sleep, exercise and healthy foods we need to solve this problem — we also need wisdom.

Weight loss is not about “man-catching,” although let’s face it, IT DON’T HURT!

It’s time we DISMISS with the notion that “curves” is a euphemism for “blubber.” I KNOW it’s not easy. At 38 (almost 39) my body wants to be fat. I have to exercise regularly–like three-five times a week. I gave up sugar. I take an ungodly amount of vitamins. WHATEVA!!! I work HARD, and I FEEL great. My mother, on the other hand, had so much belly fat that she not only got diabetes, but hormone-resistant breast cancer. Now a widow, if she gives herself too much insulin she becomes frantic and paranoid. She recently called the sheriff’s department because a bird was pecking at her window and she thought it might be a burglar, being polite and knocking first before he robbed her blind. The authorities never showed up, and now there’s probably a note in the system about the poor old diabetic paranoid lady who calls the police because the sky is falling.

I will not have that for my life. The question is, how many of you will, just by default? It’s time ladies of the 200+ crowd. It’s time.

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