Normally posts like this are not meant to be on this site because Merc80.com focuses more on issues of art, entertainment and pop culture. However since I mention rap video vixens and entertainers such as Mo’Nique, I do think that this is connected to the larger issue of body image as propagated by a lot of the media and entertainment. So with that, I invite you to read. Please note this is not an attack, but a statement of concern. Thank you.
Black Women- We Want Curves, Not Cul-de-Sacs
I write this out of concern. This is not a joke, nor a judgment on all of you. Not every black woman fits what I’m describing. If you take this personally I would implore you to ask if, just maybe, this is a reflection of something deeper going on within. Some of this may come off as superficial, but I figure you would rather me be honest. So let’s get to the point…
Black women: You need to workout more and lose weight.
Culturally speaking, yes, we like ‘em with a little more “meat on the bones”. But the meat should be tender, not fatty. If I can see the muscle striations on the meat, that means the fat is gone. For many of you, I do not see meat, I see fat. And we’re not talking “thick”, chubby, or “out of shape”. We’re talking OBESE.
Yesterday, I was talking with a Black female friend. She has a great shape, and you can tell that a lot of that has to do with her diet and exercise. I told her I was going to write this piece on women’s weight and asked for insight on how to speak on this without hurting feelings or being insensitive. She said I should just keep it real. In no way am I exaggerating when I say that in less than 30 seconds from getting out of her car, I saw 5 different Black women. 4 of them were obese. The kind of obese that forces them to lean back while walking to carry the weight of their stomach.
This. Must. Stop.
I’m not going to cite statistics because the more cynical among you will pick apart at it. I say, the next time you go out, try to keep count of how many Black women you see that are overweight. Think of how many Black women you know personally who are overweight. Compare those numbers you have with the stats online. Being overweight is not supposed to be a normal thing, or else they wouldn’t call it OVER-weight.
I go to a lot of different places and bounce between many different circles, but just about everywhere I go is with a particularly tight crew of Black male friends. For years now, no matter what club we’re at or neighborhood we’re in, we have remarked at how many of the Black women that are around are overweight. This past weekend it was as though everywhere we went Black women were obese. What’s going on?
I’m aware of the issues around having time to work out, the money it costs to eat healthily, and after having children sometimes there is weight that seems to never go away. But what I also notice is how many women use these as excuses to rationalize why they should not work out or even try to eat more healthily. 30 minutes a day is not much. Furthermore, working out but offsetting that by eating unhealthy food is never going to help. I also know a great deal of Black women who were able to lose weight after they had children. Some of them look even better than before.
At the least, try to have a healthier diet. I have seen so many Black mothers feeding their children McDonalds, KFC, Cheetos, and other junk. Please find a Subway, Quiznos, Trader Joes, or some kind of good quality grocery store in your area. If you don’t have one, organize a group and fight like hell to get one. This is your family and community we’re talking about.
Please stop with these “fasts”. After fasting, your body absorbs everything you eat even more because you’ve starved it of certain nutrients. Black women “fast” their way to losing weight, only to gain the weight back, and then have to fast again. It’s pretty much a fact of life that you must WORK to get the results you want. Whether it’s money or a healthy body, hardly ever does the “fast” way work. Fasting is also meant to be a spiritual exercise in many cases. What kind of spiritual growth do you get if you keep returning to bad habits?
Do men need to lose weight too? Yes. But at the end of the day, a man’s size and weight are hardly ever a major issue to his attractiveness. In fact, the larger he is the more manly he appears to be. But if you find that having a man who works-out to be an important quality to you, then by all means require that. If you have a boyfriend or husband, ask him to go running with you and workout together. Exercise and healthy habits also communicate how much you have self-discipline and self-worth. Who wouldn’t find those as attractive traits?
I have seen a lot of Black women complain about not finding a man. But when I look at some of them I say to myself, “You probably wouldn’t have that problem if you went to the gym.” Is that a superficial “man” statement? Maybe. But guess what? Men like women that look good.
Some guys do like big girls. More power to ‘em. But I am also willing to bet a lot of those men like to control the girl they’re with too.
I know a lot of women who gain weight and become depressed by it, and the unhappiness with their weight causes them to eat more. They reward the pleasure center of their brain to feel better by eating. Then they feel bad again. Then they give themselves pleasure again by eating more food and sugar. This cycle is no different than any other person with an addiction. They escape reality by feeling good for a moment, but the long term effect is not healthy. When you workout, the endorphins and oxygen circulating makes you feel good. Your skin glows. As you keep working-out and lose weight, you feel even better. You look in the mirror, smiling at the hard work you put in and how good you look. Those “video vixen” girls have had surgery, airbrushing, and make-up to look that way. You can look just like them, all naturally! Doesn’t that sound so much more appealing? That’s just the beginning!
Everywhere, from Mo’Nique and more, I see this embracing of Black women being “thick”, which really now means overweight. The Body Mass Index wasn’t really designed for all cultures who have different body types and eating habits, that’s for sure. Even still, there is something to be said for having a stomach that hangs out of your shirt. Too often I see people who try to turn unhealthy behavior into something to embrace as loving themselves. If you really love yourself, you will strive to be the healthiest you can be, inside and out.
I love the curves of Black women. The hips and backside that come from the African past. But the curves look best in certain places, not everywhere. Looking like the Michelin Man is not sexy or cute.
A lot of us men want something to hold on to.
But it’s hard to hold on to you if your stomach is in the way.
UPDATE: Since this is such a popular post and has gotten so much attention, I figured I’d also put another balanced voice in the mix.