Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Black women and weight: Part 1

Warning: I'm about to get extremely blunt, and I know it's going to hurt some folks but I'm speaking from experience and I'm speaking out of love. Tough love is harsh at times, but it's still love.

The issue of weight has never been an easy one with many black women. Not merely love handles or a little “junk in the trunk”, but obesity and increasingly morbid obesity. These women believe or are made to believe that their heavy sizes are just fine. I won't say normal, because the problem with normal is that it's subjective, something not based on a universal reality; what's normal for you may and probably is abnormal for someone else. I say “fine” or “okay” because these are the opposite of reality when it comes to black women and obesity. No, it's not fine. It's not okay. It's a problem.

It's one that many women stubbornly refuse to address in their own lives (and dare to stop others from addressing in their lives).

Tell some black women they should lose weight for their health, and they don't want to hear it.

Tell them that it increases their chances of finding a quality may require a wig as you are liable to get snatched bald.

I just don't understand it. How in the world is stating the obvious (which it is, whether you like it or not) evil? No one is hating on you. No one is “fat-shaming” you.

You would like to know ways to increase your chances of finding a handsome quality mate, regardless of his ethnical background or situation in life?

Be. Physically. Fit.

Fit as in healthier and not as in starving yourself to the point of skeletal. And also notice I didn't say “thin”. Depending on who you are and your body shape, you may find your physical peek at a size that's not necessarily a size 4 or even an 8. Your goal should be a physical state of fitness that works best for you. And if you tell me that 300lbs works best for you, I love you, but you're not only lying to me, you're lying to yourself.

You are lying if you think that you will have the same options of attracting males while being obese than you would if you were at an optimal weight.

You are lying if you think that being morbidly obese isn't hurting your body and mind.

And you are ESPECIALLY lying if you can't tell the difference between being “a little” over weight and extremely overweight.

Come on, now.

I saw one person argue from a point of view that dared to assume that this was a suggestion being hurled at women who were anywhere from 10 to 20 lbs overweight. As if!

Unhealthy is unhealthy, but it's clear that this is a reality that women who are far larger than that need to come to terms with, and just because you don't want to doesn't mean you get to go around plugging the ears of women who need to hear it, regardless of how mad it makes them.

If you want to be mad at yourself.

That's right, I said it. You go to that mirror and you point the finger at the reflection.

YOU are the one that refuses to do what you have to in order to live a healthier life, one that will help expand your life span.

YOU are the one insisting that fairy tales come true, and that men are more likely to go against instinct and be initially attracted to women who are traditionally unattractive.

YOU are the one attempting to make the exception the rule, and perhaps even worse YOU are using those exceptions to encourage other women to remain unhealthy and possibly indefinitely alone.

Now, is there someone for everyone? The odds say yes. I mean there are billions of people and you only really need one mate; regardless of your size, odds are, there's someone for you.

But allow me to get especially blunt, and I don't care how mad you get. You can burn up:

If you are not willing to do what it sakes to make yourself as competitive as possible, and yes, that includes physically, you neither have any right to moan about the looks of the men you attract, nor any right to complain about your mate not bothering to keep himself up, as you have made it clear that you don't want to do the same.

You also have no right to hold any man you deem as “unattractive” in contempt for daring to put himself on the market.

I actually saw women putting it to some poor guy who DARED to express interest in fishing for a mate while not being a 9 or 10. Now, maybe these women were former swimsuit models, I don't know.

But, I do find it difficult to refrain from side-eyeing harder than a cross-eyed flounder at the haughtiness I saw in those comments, on a post sandwiched between indignation expressed in comments in other posts over women pretty much doing the same: Daring to put themselves forth while not being svelte.

Clearly these women have standards. Well, so do men. And here is the kicker: Male standards take precedent. Thank you, patriarchy! (that last bit was sarcastic, I promise.)

And fit women are where it's at. Yes, personality is awesome, as is intelligence. Thank God for blessing me with both. ;D

But I'm not about to rule myself out because it's easier to do nothing than to get in shape. Because that's what you do when you rail against this truth: You rule yourself out for many men as being a potential mate.

As I observed and commented: BWE bloggers do not have to tell you that it would be to your advantage to lose weight. They can do the opposite: Encourage you to be as “happy” (and fat) as possible.

They can pat you on the back and go “oh there, there!” as they pass you a plate of highly fattening foods, and compliment your hair and ensure you that someday your prince will come and he will absolutely not care that you can't walk far due to being so heavy. They could tell you not to worry about the ridiculous rate of diabetes in your family. They could say how sorry they were that your aunt died at 47 due to illnesses that were ultimately caused by her weight, but not before she lost a limb. And you could choose to believe every word of it as you march resolvedly down the same path.

You're a big girl in every sense of the word and no one can tell you a damn thing.

Meanwhile they munch on celery like rabbits while preparing to flee to the gym post-haste.

The funny thing is, that these words are a gift. An unwanted one but a gift nonetheless, because think about it: If we're all competing for quality men, then telling someone to make themselves competitive is actually detrimental to the interests of the person speaking.

In a purely sociopathic sense, it would make MORE sense for such women to tell you to stay the way you are, to encourage your unhealthy eating habits, to tell you anything you want to hear and let you be lulled into a sense of false security and warmth and acceptance.

And it is pretty easy to do, truth be told. Especially with so many black women absolutely determined to not make themselves competition for these men. Oh, not to say you couldn't possibly find love or a life partner, but the ease is not going to be what it is for women who do WHATEVER they have to in order to widen their pool of options and come away with the absolute best catches.

What you choose to do with your body and health at the end of the day is entirely up to you. But, I refuse to face the woman in the mirror each day knowing I could make my life easier and my chances at romantic happiness easier by being a smaller, healthier size.

In fact, I have resolved myself that every time I come across a topic about black women and weight...I am going to drop down and do push ups. At least ten, but probably closer to twenty if it's particularly contentious. And for every comment justifying or excusing obesity in black women, or claiming we're every bit as competitive when we're ridiculous overweight as opposed to an optimal size I will walk for five minutes.

That may seem excessive to some folks, but there is nothing more motivating for me at this point in my journey to be healthier than both proving the idea that a black woman is supposed to be fat wrong, and doing my part to fight against obesity and the health issues it causes.

I intend to do a second part getting at the psychological aspects for this, but this speech was more or less about the ludicrous positions of many women on this subject. It's been weighing on me (no pun intended, hand to God) and I had to say something.

...Now if you'll excuse me, I've got push ups to do.


BWLivingWell said...

Excellent post Toni!

nicole is the new black said...

Not wishing to derail. But I am the poster you referenced in this post. I was not discussing being 10 to 20 lbs extra. So the As if is not justified. I was talking from MY perspective. A woman who is 280 lbs.I could probably lose 100 lbs according to charts. I am Morbidly obese and and real.
I don't even disagree with you about health and fitness but wanted to make that small correction.

Toni said...

@ Nicole

Perfectly fine, but the sentiment remains:

The women to whom the message is most meant aren't willing to receive it and you are not helping.

I actually think you look very lovely, and if you are like, "I'm just fine at the size or around the size I am!" That is fine to. As I've said, it's about individual choice and accountability.

But don't shoot the messenger.

It is what it is when it comes to increasing one's viability on the dating scene. And depending on who you are and where you are, it can be especially cut throat.

I will not lie to other women about the situation, because it's just not in me. Whether it's a matter of health (which I feel very strongly should be of the utmost priority, and I hope that came across in my blog) or a matter of dating options.

I can say that I attracted men at my heaviest, and I attract men now...and I'm nowhere near my goal size. BUT, because I'm extremely concerned about my health, I'm not going to stay at this size just because I might have dating options. I'll likely have as many or more at my goal size, and I'll be healthier and happier.

In the end, it's really up to you. If you want to take the words to heart and do your thing, good. If you don't, fine.

It just grinds my gears when people chime in with opinions that can be viewed as ultimately more harm than help and more unrealistic than logical.

Black women need to face the facts when it comes to our sizes (which today, are more and more unhealthy) and tackling the issue head on.

Toni said...

*too, not to.

Oh, typos. Stupid Blogger and your lack of edit buttons! XD

kiki said...

Toni, I am a skinny girl. I have always wanted to gain weight. Five, 10 pounds. I am married to a WM who loves my weight. He doesnt want me to gain any weight what so ever.

With that being said, when I dated BM in my 20s I was often told that I was too skinny. Mind you, those seem BM always talked about how BW are too fat. I have heard many black men say that they dont like skinny girls nor fat ones. But many overweight fat BW didnt get the memo. BW make the mistake of thinking that they look good/sexy at obese sizes. But they dont realize that they would look better at their natural weight.

I believe most men like hour glass figures, definitely not fat. And Im not talking about 20, 30 pounds overweight. Im talking about the 200 pounders.

I have to say this, when I entered a room of former high school friends they were ALL fat. And not to be mean, but lost their looks due to their weight. Clothes dont look right, stretch marks. And b/c of the weight, they wobbled when they walk.

I also think that with figures showing that more than 50% of BW will never marry and 25% of BM in America dating/marrying outside of their race, BW need to wake up and realize that they have to compete. Not just for men who will only take them to bed, but compete for quality men to marry.