So, Friday morning I was driving down the street on the way to work. As normal I tuned in to Magic 102 to listen to the current antics when a special Jackie Reed insider interrupted the airwaves. I turn the volume up just a little to get an earful of the most outrageous comment I have ever heard.
The broadcast was in response to an article written in The NY Times by Alice Randall http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/opinion/sunday/why-black-women-are-fat.html. To sum things up Ms. Randall has proclaimed that it is some sort of subconscious wish for black women to want to be overweight to in some way be more like their grandmothers (which was a statement made on the broadcast not in her article). She also mentioned that black men start to worry if their black wives lose weight versus white women worrying that their white husbands will leave them if they gain. She also goes on to prove her case by incorporating a quote from a book titled “The Embodiment of Disobedience: Fat Black Women’s Unruly Political bodies”.In short the quote suggests that black fat is a resistance against oppression.
After fuming over the words spoken, that were riddled with generalizations and stereotypes, I thought all weekend about the reason for “black fat” as they like to call it. First things first, I thought obesity affected more than just BLACK WOMEN. Nearly 1/3 of the U.S. suffer from obesity and of those 1/3, Black women lead by 45.5% versus Hispanics at 36% and Whites at 30%. Those numbers all prove to me that being overweight is an AMERICAN issue not a “black” issue. Yes black women lead but only by a little less than 15%. I believe that once America stops labeling and pointing the finger at various races and look at the bigger picture, we could tackle the problem.
I honestly believe that obesity has several varying factors: lack of education on healthy eating, (including the belief that all healthy foods are nasty and bland lacking taste), buying into the stigma that if members of your family are fat you should face and accept the inevitable that you will be too, using food as an emotional outlet and real health conditions (hypothyroidism, food sensitivity, cushing’s syndrome, organ disease etc..)
As far as the statement that SOME African American women are overweight because they want to be, personally I disagree. No one WANTS to be fat. I grew up overweight for half of my life (and am still battling the bulge) and trust me it is not a nice thing hearing whispers about you as you enter the room. I recall walking home one day (in my predominantly black neighborhood) holding back tears after listening to two black men taunt me by saying look at that jelly roll so on and so forth.
Honestly, I didn’t know why I was 230 lbs at 21 (standing at only 5’1). The more obvious reason to everyone else was that I ate too much but it was SO much deeper than that. I was repressing emotions, dealing with pain from childhood trauma, and in survival mode. I didn’t know that at a certain height and weight if you consume x numbers of calories you will gain. Sounds simple but I wasn’t taught how to control the eating. More than that, I wasn’t taught how to deal with the pain that weighed in my spirit so heavily (which showed itself outward). I was crying out for help one plate at a time. NO ONE HEARD ME.
It wasn’t until a church fast that I learned the healthier way to eat, and the fact that I LOVED it so much. Eating brown rice instead of white rice really did not have much of a difference in taste. Choosing to consume lean meats, fish and exercising! Now I love to go on a walk or jogging, and guess what, my stress levels actually decreased as a result. The real turn around was when I discovered that I had been in a continual coping pattern adopted at 10 years of age. I emotionally ate. Whenever there was a change I didn’t like or a situation that I felt violated my life (meaning I had no control over it) I would eat past the point of no return, completely ignoring my body telling me that it had enough. Food was my escape and even now, it is a serious battle. When something negative happens I want to yield to the enticement of getting a bowl of ice cream and letting the good times roll. However, I weigh the cost (and pray for self-control!) Most days I win and some days I lose BUT I have made a bold statement that I will never return to the weight I was and will continue to shed the pounds until I get to the DESIRED weight for me and my health.
It must have been maybe 11 years ago when I was sitting at a table with friends surrounding me as we discussed what we thought things would be like in the future. All of us high school senior’s with a month away from graduation,wide eyed and filled with excitement. We went around the table and when it was my turn I painted a glorious picture of a utopia where I am an award winning journalist whom is on the brink of putting a magazine publication on the map. (Can you say Queen Latifah from “Living Single”) After a long day of sitting in my office editing work I come home to a family of three and a Shemar Moore look alike husband (oh yes I swore I would marry him one day). We all burst into laughter and shook our heads as if we knew our future was going to play out the exact way we pictured it. Well after 11 years of living, mutiple failed attempts at completing school and a ring finger that is bare, I regretfully report that things don’t always go according to plan.
January 27, 2012 I turned 29 and it was as if someone had slapped me across the face. I woke up with a stinging sensation filtering through my mind as I pondered WHERE HAVE THE YEARS GONE??? I had not reached a single goal other than publishing a few poems and an unsuccessfully marketed book. I was gripped with fear as I began to wonder if my life would be okay. Shortly after I sunk into deep depression and faded to the background pushing everything away evading to my inner self to seek solutions. Truth is, I am a dreamer. Its in my nature to escape to an unknown world and float on the clouds of life imaging things not seen in reality. However, dreamers soon become wounded when the clouds melt away and they are left with a sour truth that maybe-just maybe- things don’t turn out the way you think it should.
Life has a way of doing that to an idealist. Once a person of great faith, I was reduced to negative thoughts which followed negative speech. It was hard to see the dream anymore. The impossible that was oh so possible to me had withered into an unattainable goal. I often vision me reaching for it like a child does a balloon that slips through their tiny grip and off into the sky leaving behind a teary broken heart. In the middle of my melodramatics I received a message!
You can call it conscientiousness if you would like, I know exactly where the message came from and I want to share it with you.
WAKE UP out of your depression and know that your negative thought process has created this damp and dreary world you live in. That’s right, your thoughts are what is causing the turmoil reeking havoc in your life. CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS!!!
Even greater than that, change your thoughts, change your speech, then change your plan of action. So what you have had a few upsets. Yeah those things happened BUT you are alive and well so dust yourself off and get back out there. If you have to wake up every morning and tell yourself that you are a winner and one of these days… YOU WILL BRING HOME THE PRIZE then do so. Don’t stop believing in you. I, myself, wont stop believing that God can do the impossible and He can do so through me… but I have to believe that I can do it.
So how about it? I changed my mind today, can you join me? Say it with me: I am not a victim, I can get up and take control and I WILL WIN!!!