Weight

Black women,

If you can only see yourselves as we see you.

I took a trip to Los Angeles over a year ago for the first time in my life. Like any half aware person, I went to L.A. with a certain perception of glitz and glamour of the Hollywood life. The biggest notables of my trip were, in no particular order:

1) The division of classes (there are some grimy areas in L.A…not too far from the pretty ones)
2) The bustle of the acting scene (everybody is trying to make something happen out there)
3) The skinny women

For the last point, there were some exceptions. But that was the rule. The Hollywood culture infiltrates the female psyche in an obvious and damaging way: thin is in, thick is disgusting. Females were doing whatever they can to stay in that desirable mode, so that they can land a role and become that next star. Being a lifelong Atlantan, I couldn’t – and still can’t – fathom the notion of thinning yourself out to make your self more appealing. That is counterintuitive. However, there in La La land, it was going to happen. Damn whether her body type is fit for a size 2, she is going to get to that size.

Over a year later, it hit me: That nonsense isn’t just on the West Coast; it is pervading women everywhere. With an ever scrutinizing eye on the obesity rate here in America, there is an inordinate amount 130 pound women wanting to be 120 pound women. And 145 pounds? Please, depression central.

This is not only neurotic, it’s psychologically dangerous.

Different people, families, races all have specific body types. If your family, for generations, has been chomping on seasoned ribs, collard greens and potato salads at the frequency rate of a CNN political debate, then chances are that you will be a little thicker than a family that pinches its seasoning and settles for more turkey and cheese sandwiches. More straight to the point, black people generally are thicker than white people. It’s a law of life. So why can’t you realize that? Why let another sect – who secretly envies your body type and aging mechanisms – establish your sense of beauty?

The reason I have been pushed over the edge to vent to you my thoughts on this is because I am constantly hearing you agonize over your pounds. While I was at the gym recently, there were a group of women huddling around the scale like meth addicts jonesing for a fix. It was a sickening sight.

Much of this damage is done on the subconscious level. There are scores of women who can’t even pinpoint why they want to be smaller or why curves are viewed as anathema or why some of you ogle over women in magazines as much as men do (don’t even try to deny…I’ve seen it many times). This has a subtle trickle out effect as well. Imagine that you go into work to see that co-worker who just makes you feel bad about yourself (you know that I’m talking about; the one who is the “perfect size”, who reminds you of what you want to be and where you’re not physically.). Your mood has become inexplicably sour for the next hour or so, and if you see her again, maybe even the whole day. Work productivity goes down, attitudes towards others sour a bit and behold, you have a lost day because of some false sense of vanity.

Imagine this effect over a relationship. Personal insecurity in a relationship is about as helpful as chapped thighs. It doesn’t lead to relationship bliss. Beautiful women, I don’t know if you ever heard this before, but I have to have to let you in on a well-known secret:

Men like women with meat on them.

I understand that that may be presumptuous of me. Many women beautify themselves for themselves, not for men. So where does this concept of beauty come from? Environment? Parents? Media?

All of which brings me back to my West Coast trip; the place where the distortion of beauty has its home. It was amazing to me to navigate through the place where the most popular sitcoms are shot, where the Hollywood Walk-of-Fame lies, where Robin Williams and Neve Campbell (who, ironically, looked as if she had been eating salads for dinner for the last 365 days) walked right pass me and of course, and more petite girls.

Understand that there is nothing wrong with endeavoring to lose weight. But lose weight because it is healthily expedient, not because of some societal stigma. The more time you spend fretting over your kilograms, the more time that your man will spend sliding away. There’s nothing more frustrating to a man than to be with a thick woman that wants to lose weight (if you gain 50 pounds after he gets with you and a baby is not involved, then that is a different story).

Going from 140 to 130 is overrated, unless your cholesterol level demands it. Otherwise, relax and rejoice in the curves that you’ve been blessed with. Because I guarantee you that your man will.

Sincerely,

Z.C. IV

  • J.S.

    Sounds like my boyfriend wrote this article LOL

  • Sasha

    Hmmm….a lot of thoughts. What I will say is that while I appreciate this perspective, I do not appreciate the generalizations. You said “men ike women with meat on them” then went on to say it was presumptuous so since you don’t speak for all men you should have said “I like women with meat on them”. I won’t even touch the comment about there being “specific” body shapes/ figures for people of different “races”.

    In my opinion, the idea of thick isn’t disgusting, the idea of fat is. I don’t ever want to be thick or fat, I like being skinny. I’ve been skinny my whole life and prefer it that way. the young woman in the picture above has the perfect body in my opinion but then again I could be biased because thats what I look like.

    To wrap it up, I felt like this piece wasn’t for me but at the same time I wanted to comment because I believe you are pushing a notion that feeds into the very system you’re trying to separate yourself from.

    • G

      My thoughts exactly.

  • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

    why I don’t mess with LA

    • Chillyroad

      LA is beautiful. Cali is a hidden jewel.

    • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

      I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Been to LA several times and I didn’t see much of what I would call beautiful. I saw a lot of fake and skinny, but not so much beautiful. Maybe I was hanging out in the wrong parts.

    • ChillyRoad

      @RAvi

      You have to take a car and drive along PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). It will take your breathe away. Our parks are wonderful too. My dad was a nature guy so I was exposed to many beautiful parts of California. There is no better place than the Bay area.

    • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

      I have to reserve judgment on the bay area. I’ve only been once back in the 90’s and I didn’t have much of a chance to explore. I might be back there again in April, so maybe I’ll see what the fuss is about.

  • http://wwww.habariganiamerica.com Mommafucious

    This has to be written by a man. It is understandable in the acting profession to be leary of women dieting. But the average Black Women holding the article’s opinion are usually drastically but naturally overweight, with no hope of gaining the self-control to become and stay at a healthy personal weight. We Black Women are fighting a loosing battle against a history of cultural delights set to kill, men with a need for something extra to hold on to, and food-addicted obese women. This has got to stop. Women need to take control of every facet of their lives, mostly their bodies.

    • Sasha

      Agreed, this is what made me raise an eyebrow about the article. I can’t speak for the ideas of a whole racial/ ethnic group but for whatever reason, which I’m sure are many that I can only speculate, it is often Black men I hear saying this. The idea of “thick” has been distorted so much that fat, obese and morbidly obese women believe it is an accurate descriptor of what they look like. It is deeper than looks and outward appearance, there’s a psychological issue at hand and also a possible health issue. I have never been to Atlanta or LA so I can’t really form an opinion of what he saw. What I can say is that I’m from the DMV and the women of this area I have seen on Facebook and instagram that describe themselves as thick are actually fat. The “curves” the author is talking about are actually saddlebags, love handles and rolls.

      The issue I have with this is that women who are concerned about or monitor/ watch their weight, fitness and what they eat are considered “meth addicts jonesing for a fix”, frustrating to be with or have psychological issues which is sad but I guess its easier to attack people of a minority group than address the issue regarding a growing majority.

    • cabugs

      Shout out to the DMVers!

    • EST. 1986

      Go Ravens!

    • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

      I don’t think the author is speaking of drastically overweight women. He specifically references 130 lb women that are trying to get to 120 — women that don’t have weight problems that are trying to get skinnier for aesthetic reasons. Just because there are drastically overweight women that need to lose weight because of health reasons, doesn’t mean there aren’t women that are not at all overweight trying to achieve a skinny ideal. LA is known for such women. I agree that women need to take control of their bodies — especially from the beauty industry that force feeds this super skinny ideal to the population. I was just talking to an LA friend the other day that is trying to lose weight. She has a flat stomach and a small waist; she just wants her butt to be smaller. This is not because of health reasons. She just wants a butt “that inspires worship.” I believe this is what he is talking about.

      The curves the author is speaking of are likely in the lower body, not the mid section. I’ve seen many women in the DMV, in person and in social media, that are thick without rolls or love handles. Maybe it’s the circles I associate with, but I find that to be the norm in the black professional crowd out here.

  • JDB

    I actually like this article. He’s not really saying we’ve never heard before, but he’s adding a little something positive at the end. He’s got some disclaimers regarding those who are naturally skinny and excessively overweight or unhealthy. Sounds to me like he’s just telling those of us who have more curves than your average “I like you just the way you are” which is alright with me. Thanks!

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