Written by Penelope Farthing
Uh oh, guess who’s back with another weight related blog post…however, since January is the month of recommitting to goals for the year, with something weight related frequently topping the list, this will be my penultimate post on the topic for the foreseeable future.
Due to the hundreds of comments on Facebook condemning my articles touching on this topic (linked here and here), I won’t be going as hard as I usually do. In fact, I wrote this shortly after the Facebook flap in early December, but postponed posting it until after the holidays, as one commenter suggested, since food is such a big part of Christmas. As such, consider this a “trigger warning”. It’ll be a light(er) touch today. If you’re going to get triggered or offended, here’s your chance to click the little ‘x’ in the corner, no hard feelings. In fact, here are some fluffy baby animals if I offended you last time, as penance. Everybody loves fluffy baby animals.
I can’t believe I need to put a trigger warning on a blog post about obesity, and yet rappers can take to the airwaves and get promoted talking about choking, beating, pimping, punching etc. women (well, bitches, hoes, thots, and females) in their songs…a message that will be spread further and wider than this little post, and yet, here we are. But I will acknowledge the selective outrage I have come to expect in black women, and acknowledge that I too have my own things to work on, and write about a few themes I saw in the comments.
Now that that’s out the way.
Women flocked to the comments on Facebook engaging in equal parts logic, and being willfully obtuse. There were a few themes that I noticed, which are not unique to these specific comments in question, but in many comment sections and threads where obesity is examined. Some examples include:
Does it annoy you when someone is talking about the failures of a group, be it men, women, or whatever else, and someone jumps in to say “not all [insert thing here]!” This argument is along those same lines. I know not everyone can be a size two. I’m a size 6, and I’ll never be a 2. I couldn’t tell you the last time I was a two. But not because everyone can’t be a size 2 means you should walk around being a size 20+ either. Why is it always extremes with us? The average dress size for black women is around 18-20, and a size 16 for white women. There are several sizes higher than two that does not teeter into the obesity category. The point of my post was to say obesity is globally bad, no matter how many excuses you make.
Your ability to attract a man while obese is not a good metric. A man is no good to you if you end up disabled or die as a result of an obesity related illness. I saw some dude on Facebook say obese women are for poor men, which was an interesting line of thought. The real irony was that he looked pretty broke himself, so who knows. Attracting a high-quality high-value man is great, but not being obese should trump your man-getting endeavors if only for your own health. Or not, your choice.
If you are 50, 75, 100, or more pounds overweight, by default, your physical health is subpar. You may feel amazing, but your heart, lungs, kidneys, and skeleton are simply not equipped to accommodate the burden that comes with carrying an extra couple layers of adipose tissue. You may not see or feel the changes happening, but chances are, they are still there. Top tier athletes with muscles for days may have high BMIs but still be healthy, but that is the exception, not the rule, and does not apply to the vast majority of black women.
This is very true. Tons of skinny women are on drugs, depressed/suicidal, have congenital heart issues, genetic diseases, infected, mental health in complete shambles, or pure bad luck when it comes to health. Thinness does not equal health. But being obese means any health issue you might have had at a normal weight will be exacerbated. You got a bad back? Awful knees? Even a family history of heart trouble? It’ll be worse if you’re overweight.
Take asthma for instance, something I personally have dealt with on and off for decades. If I at a normal weight struggle to breathe to the point where I need an inhaler to help me along, imagine what that would be like if I was 75 pounds overweight? I chose a lung disease specifically because a research study came out recently that found that fat accumulates in the lungs of overweight and obese people. Not really a high selling point if you ask me.
This rationale is a little different. There could be several factors at play as to why someone has been overweight since childhood. Babies are not born overweight, and they don’t get there until after they start getting solids. Other reasons It could have been that the parents of that child were too busy, too poor, or otherwise too unconcerned about the food that their child ate, and they relied whatever ready-made, drive-through meal they were offered. These habits are hard to break, especially when healthier alternatives are not fostered in the formative years.
One reason that KsC brings up a lot is eating and gaining weight as a defense mechanism to protect against a molester that may have been predating in the home. A young girl eats her pain for two reasons – to find solace in food, and possibly to gain weight in hopes to be unattractive to her abuser. Getting some much needed therapy could be key to exploring some root causes if being overweight was something you’ve struggled with since childhood.
There is a genetic component to obesity as well, but I would wager that most obese people got that way, not because of genetic disposition, but due to sedentary lifestyles and poor food quality.
Sure, the BMI is the standard for another race of women who are simply not blessed to be built like black women. But that said, it can still serve as a guideline. Or better yet, maybe it’s time to create a black BMI chart. I think this would be good and bad in a way – it would be good because it sets a standard for ourselves, but it could be bad because it may be used to rationalize obesity since so many black women tip the scales, and the numbers would be artificially deflated to spare feelings. I don’t know either way, but there are enough black medical professionals to make this a thing if it isn’t already.
This one is a favorite of mine that I will be writing about in a separate post. Not because white women are fat too means we should join in. In fact, like I said before, chaos is a ladder, and you can use the rising obesity rates in white and nonblack women to compete in the game of life and win in all realms. Personally I’m not bothered when the competition does something to jeopardize their standing.
Kendall St. Charles often says black women pay for what they want, and beg for what they need. Healthy food can be expensive, but there are ways to circumvent those high prices, like aggressive coupon cutting, or giving up on those nice-to-haves like subscription services or salon manicures for a little while. No one is saying you have to buy stock in Whole Foods, but switching out the grease and fat for some salad and water could do a world of good.
They sure are! And they can get even pricier depending on what kind of gym you go to (CrossFit, pole fitness, Parkour, whatever). But the good news is there are tons of workouts you can do in the comfort of your home. Bonus? No equipment, no down payment, and nobody watching! I wrote an article several months ago with some sample at home work outs to try, right in your living room. Incidentally, that article did not garner nearly as much attention as the last one.
Why is it accepted that other health and life limiting excesses, such as chain smoking or binge drinking, is bad, and we know it’s bad, but when the alarming obesity rates in black women is discussed, which is just an excess of fat, the excuses abound? I am genuinely struggling to understand. Too much liquor on the weekend is bad and your liver will let you know. Too many cigarettes and that cough you keep coughing may be something sinister. But too much food, that leads to obesity, riles the masses to the point where a statement had to be issued on how to tackle this topic moving forward. Weight is, and always be a touchy subject with us, but pussyfooting and sugarcoating around will not solve anything. Ignoring it and deflecting from the problem at hand is not a solution.
This is my second to last post on obesity-related content for the foreseeable future. Stay tuned for my close out post on this topic next week. The intent of this post is not to offend, but to start a conversation around this topic, which has real effects of black women worldwide.
Disclaimer: This blog was written by me, Penelope, and my ideas are not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.