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.