I have a bone to pick with the mainstream media. It seems whenever they want a Black perspective, they rarely bother to look for balanced views, nope, they get someone whose views frankly are questionable. Despite the plethora of Black voices that are easily accessible thanks to social media, it never fails that half the time when I am reading something on a so-called Black issue, I am reading either a white person’s perspective or some Black person that frankly is just happy to get their name in print.
Case in point, in today’s New York Times, they have a piece about “Why Black Women are Fat” that frankly is so insulting and so one sided that one wonders did they publish it so they could hear from angry Black women like yours truly?
The author of the piece, Alice Randall states that despite the many well-known risks of obesity that Black women are fat in part because Black culture wants us fat, that our worth as Black women is tied to not being below 200 lbs. and that we have to have big hips. Really? I actually won’t completely argue with that, but and I say but, Randall missed the mark in that it’s primarily at lower socio-economic levels within the Black community that one might see these attitudes. Frankly they are a throwback to another time and hardly as common as Randall may have us to believe. Yes, she gives us examples of successful college educated professional Black women, whose Black mates beg them not to lose too much weight, I suggest she look a little further than her own social circle especially when writing a piece for a paper such as the New York Times. In my circle of women offline and on-line, most of my Black peers are striving to get ourselves in shape if we are out of shape and if we are in shape, we are trying to stay there and it’s not about pleasing any damn man. It’s about the fact we have lost too many loved one’s too soon to diabetes, hypertension, etc. and we want to break the cycle.
Sure, I like looking cute and petite, but as one of the few women in my family to reach 39 and not be in need of medications for hypertension or be pre-diabetic, I know losing my few pounds is more about retaining that status as I enter my 40’s next year. My own mother never had a shred of extra weight but by my age she was already on a plethora of drugs for hypertension.
I think that too many times Black women, who are overweight, have a hard time making time for themselves. We juggle too much and we are stressed out in a world that isn’t all that friendly to us, granted all women juggle but let’s face it Black women have a few extra struggles that our white counterparts don’t have. Sometimes our love of deep baked mac & cheese, candied yams and fried chicken is about having a little pleasure and a moment of denial in the easiest way we know how. Yet as a member of Gen X, I think quite a few of us are breaking with the traditions of our mothers, grandmothers and others. Sistas are re-thinking how we eat, we still like our collards but many of us are no longer cooking em in a vat of fatback. We are learning coping techniques like yoga to better deal with our stress, we are seeking therapy to break the bonds and learning to let go of what needs to go.
The problem with Randall’s piece in the New York Times is that the primary demographic of a Times reader ain’t Black women, instead it’s people who will once again read it and make assumptions and buy into the well worn stereotypes about Black women.
PS: By the end of Randall’s piece she does give some good food for thought but again was the Times really the best space for this in the first place?