Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Black women and weight: Part 2

It's been ages since I was able to blog, but I've been busy. ^^'

Anyway as the first part was more of a rant, my verbal exasperation at a depressing situation, I think I'm going to change my tone a bit for this post, and try and look inward to understand exactly what's going on.

With black women in the media these days, ads on TV are more likely to features overweight "funny" women. If they're attractive, they're very light, or distinctly lighter than their male counterparts. Svelte and dark-skinned? I'd love to see it, but it is rare to the point of non-existence.

But you'll be more likely to hear an outcry about skin color (not that I don't agree, just pointing it out) than weight. And when weight is mentioned, the defensiveness that arises is immediate.

To some, it is reasonable: Many women complain that they aren't "represented" on television. Where are the overweight white women? Asian women? Where are the super-thick Latinas?

Some would say that at least black women are represented in this weight category....


Think about that for a second.

Hollywood is the land of illusions, where hardly anyone is who they appear to be. American television is notorious for prettying up roles that are meant to be unattractive ("Ugly Betty", anyone?). Think about all the beauty commercials you see featuring non black women. Can you remember the last time you saw a woman being representative of that product who was an everyday woman, who was remotely overweight?

Think about other non-bw. How often in commercials or on television where they are meant to be attractive or desirable do they look overweight?

Think about the representation of black women in the media. How often are we allowed to simply be pretty? And when it happens....how often are the women dark?

Haven't you noticed in the media, that often black women are more likely to be represented as overweight at a GREATER ratio than their non-black counterparts?

If you are allowing yourself to be comforted by the "reality" of being represented, let me ask you this: Where are your overweight non-black counterparts and why are you big and proud by your damn self?

Now, there's nothing wrong with being big and proud if that's really what you want, but I am a firm believer in the more you are being encouraged by people who clearly do not have your best interest at heart to be something, the more it may be a good idea to stop and ask questions, which I've been doing through out this post.

Why is it that black women are so determined to resist losing weight?

Why are these women comforted by having excessive weight being seen as a norm, rather than as a problem?

Why are these women completely unconcerned with the fact that society is protecting the illusion of beauty in other ethnic groups, but putting our physical flaws out there for the world to see?

The only answer I keep coming back to is that these women have simply given up. That these women are so happy to have some kind of acknowledgement by the world, rather than be totally invisible, they will allow themselves to be seen as unattractive, undesirable, and uncouth. Either because that's who they feel like they have to be in order to be "real" or because their sense of self has dropped to a place of "Thank the Lord, SOMEBODY on TV looks half like me". Someone mentioned this elsewhere, but I'm inclined to agree. This has "settling" written all over it.

If you are willing to be misrepresented or represented in the worst possible light, who clings to extremes in order to validate yourself, then something is severely wrong.

You need to ask yourself why others are so invested in you staying at a larger size, why you feel that you can't be a more optimal you at a smaller size.

I'm sure someone will ask, well, why do YOU care so much?

And you would have already answered the question: I care.

I want to see less black women falling into the trap of diabetes, high blood pressure, and limited mobility. I want to see less of us buying into that nonsense that our white colleagues try to push that "Oh, you're just FINE, you're beautiful at your size!" while they munch on celery like it's going out of style. I want more for black women, for us to be healthier, sexier, and competitive on a global scale when it comes to love.

But me wanting it for other black women isn't the same as these women wanting it for themselves.

I'm doing what I have to do. Whether they decide to do it is something else entirely.