I am black but I’m not overweight. In fact a few friends from home (the midwest) are threatening to send me food because they saw my birthday pics and they think I’m not eating. Hey – I EAT! EVERY DAY! Get off my back!!
Sorry, got off message for a moment.
ANYway, in no one’s rational mind am I anything close to obese. Sure, there is always that 5 to 10 lbs I might want to lose (because I live in Los Angeles and you’re supposed to be like a size -2 at all times, like for real) BUT I have never had a health concern associated with my weight so I can’t say that I fully understand what it’s like to be “a certain size” but I do know that I’m a little tired of “US”, generally speaking, being singled out like specimens.
Alice Randall contributed an opinion piece to the NYTimes the other day entitled “Black Women and Fat” – one glance at the headline and I was annoyed. ‘Here we go again’ I thought to myself. Black women so nuf got lots o problems. They just can’t catch a break – EVER!
FOUR out of five black women are seriously overweight. One out of four middle-aged black women has diabetes. With $174 billion a year spent on diabetes-related illness in America and obesity quickly overtaking smoking as a cause of cancer deaths, it is past time to try something new.
What we need is a body-culture revolution in black America. Why? Because too many experts who are involved in the discussion of obesity don’t understand something crucial about black women and fat: many black women are fat because we want to be.
“Because we want to be”?? Sigh. Look I don’t have stats and as a casual observer I will agree that “we” as a people could benefit tremendously from altering our eating habits and engaging in even a moderate amount of exercise on a weekly basis but damn if I think that it is strictly a BLACK WOMAN ISSUE! Look around, obesity is a growing AMERICAN concern.
By 2030, roughly 42 percent of Americans will be obese, researchers announced today to kick off the “Weight of the Nation” obesity conference in Washington, D.C. That staggering rise will contribute to a rise in major health care costs, so much so that the researchers behind the study say keeping obesity rates level over the next 20 years could save nearly $550 billion.
Currently about a third of U.S. adults are obese. The Weight of the Nation meeting is part of a nationwide awareness campaign that involves experts from numerous organizations discussing strategies for the prevention and control of obesity.
A study earlier this year in January found the obesity epidemic was reaching a plateau, with numbers remaining the same as they were in 2003. But the researchers behind the new study created new projections, and one said on a conference call that obesity prevalence is “increasing at a decreasing rate,” and those increases will add up over time.
For the new study, Duke University researchers used a new statistical model of projecting obesity rates from examining different sets of CDC data on hundreds of thousands of Americans. They predict that by 2030, 11 percent of people will be severely obese, as defined by a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40 or being roughly 100 pounds or more overweight. That 11 percent rate would double today’s rate. The findings suggest the U.S. health care system will be saddled with 32 million additional obese people within two decades. (CBSNews)
Although those predictions sound dire, WebMD reported that “Only a 1 percent decrease in this predicted trend would mean 2.9 million fewer obese adults in 2030, saving $4.7 billion yearly health care costs…” Clearly something to strongly take into consideration.
Another aggravating factor of the NYT article is an issue I alluded to in the beginning – this “woe is us” downtrodden surface observation of why black people ____ is getting old.
Guess what? I’m not alone. As I don’t have a lot time today to delve too deeply into this issue I was quite pleased to find a rebuttal article that honed in on some of my frustration. Ebony’s Jamilah Lemieu responded with: “Your Blackness Ain’t Like Mine – Enough with the op-eds explaining why ‘Black Women are Fat’ or anything else that makes it seem like we’re all the same” - Right on Sis!
“Why are Black women fat? Why are Black men in jail? Why can’t Black women find “good Black men?” Why did I get married, too?”
Miserable questions that provide no path to answers—but offer broad sweeping generalizations in their stead—have put a lot of money in the pockets of writers, bloggers (that’s not redundant; not every member of the latter group can rightly be described as the former), and anyone else who profits off the lucrative “Inherent Deficiency Industry.” Yes, I just made that up. Yes, it is is a real thing. (Ebony)
Inherent Deficiency Industry. Perfect.
The IDI refers to those who bank off of the notion that X group of people is forever doomed to suffer Y problem. They respond to the need for solutions with magic beans and bothersome hypotheses and rom-coms and books and many, many microscopes under which groups of people (Blacks, poor folks, gays, fat people…pretty much anyone except for able-bodied, healthy, straight and upwardly mobile White men) are miserably scrutinized.
Specifically addressing Randall’s article:
The aughts and early ’10s have been filled with writings designed to help The World understand just what in the hell is wrong with Black Women. Because, you see, we sisters are an entirely separate entity from the rest of civilization. Our problems are always tied to the unique condition that is being Black and female and we are so fascinating, so curious to The World, that they just can’t help but to grab the popcorn and the Dasani and peer closely into the cage that separates us from them.
Umm yeah, she goes in. She examines Randall’s TWO explanations of black woman fatness: “Our men like us big and we are resisting the fitness that was imposed upon us during slavery.” One is simplistic, the other academic and to me, even if true, they are both ridiculous and are definitely NOT the entire story. Sigh.
I do also wish that if we must hold up a mirror to Blackness constantly in the audience of others so that they may observe us (or so they can observe us observing ourselves), that we made these displays a bit more productive and beneficial to the community-at-large. Instead of speaking out on the dating woes of Black women or why we can’t just lose that last 115 extra pounds, why not talk about the systematic challenges that make it difficult for Black women to access health care—a huge factor in our obesity crisis—or how to combat our lack of easy access to healthy options in the “food deserts” many of us call home? (Ebony)
Exactly. Again, sigh.
*The photo and caption are from Lemieux’s article.