Last year the Washington Post released the results of a study in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation stating black women in general are heavier than white women and are happier. The gist of the article is that while black women tend toward the heavier side they have higher self esteem. They don’t find it necessary to be model-thin despite the media images heralding super skinny white women as the standard of beauty. Black women have embraced their curves for generations, especially our posteriors. I had a white male friend who was about to go on a first ever date with a black woman. He asked if there’s anything he should know. I said black women aren’t aliens, we’re not from another planet. But there are two things you should be aware of, first, NEVER get a black woman’s hair wet and two, if she asks if her butt looks big you say yes.
Now I was joking with him to some degree. Comedienne Aisha Tyler made a video about not having a butt (see below). Growing up I was an athlete and a skinny one at that. I was always made fun of for being too skinny for a black girl. In some African tribes being a woman of size meant you were healthy or it was a sign of wealth or wisdom. If you take a look at the results by question (by the way the survey included white and black men as well) you’ll see some other interesting trends. For example, black women are more likely to eat fast food more often. This could possibly be due to a lack of other food options in their neighborhoods. What we don’t know from this study is where the participants are from. If the black woman lives in a food dessert or in a majorly black neighborhood with other women that look like them, their self esteem is likely to be higher.
I recently saw an episode of Extreme Weight Loss on ABC where a black woman from Chicago, Chantell, was having difficulty getting support from her family. They thought she looked fine as she was. She weighed 327 pounds. This behavior does prevent or discourage some black women from working out because they don’t see the need to be bony or feel their curves may be lost. The comedienne Mo’Nique used to always make fun of “skinny bitches”, but when her health became an issue, she lost a good deal of weight. Instead of being applauded, other black women criticized her for wanting to be a “skinny bitch”.
So on the one hand it’s great that black women don’t feel pressure to fit into a perfect body mold. This doesn’t mean, however, that black women have NO body image issues. Many do struggle with their weight, struggle to look they way they “should” look. What about black girls who grow up majorly white schools/neighborhoods? Black women also suffer from diabetes and obesity in alarming numbers. Being comfortable with your curves or extra weight should NEVER be used as an excuse to neglect your body. You can be 50 pounds overweight and have good health statistics. Exercise doesn’t have to be like a prison sentence, just get your body moving.
I’m just keeping it new.