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

88 Comments

  1. Who cares how men like women?? Women need to concern themselves with what they like on their bodies and WHY. It’s all about the motive. If a woman is comparing herself to someone else then her motive to lose weight is unhealthy.

    Personally, as a woman in the 130 range, I have the right to set a goal to lose or gain 10 pounds if I so desire (I don’t desire either). It’s my body. However, if I’m setting that goal because I want to gain weight to look like Beyonce or lose to resemble Chanel Iman then that’s when I need to sit on a therapist’s couch and talk it out.

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  2. I can’t stand the deranged regressive and stupid cult of fat hating yet I find this whole article alienating.

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    • Agreed. There are all sorts of generalizations in this article that are troubling, and some that are straight-up medically inaccurate. (Such as you’re bound to be heavy based on what your grandparents–who likely had a lifestyle that was more physically active without going to the gym–ate.)

      While we’re at it, can we stop focusing on the body types that men like anyway? Trying to have a certain body type to please a man is just as troubling as fat shamming–neither are about doing what makes you feel best about yourself.

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  3. Go look at utube 60’s or early 70’s Soul Train Video if you think young black women have always been big or big bone. Back then young black women didn’t start gaining weight until after marriage and kids.

    Let’s be honest 140lbs is considered anorexic and demonized by overweight black women. Most of these still young women are close to or over 200 lbs and think they’re healthy yet can’t walk up two flights of steps without being out of breath.

    Men like big women? What young men want and like is sex but they’re embarrassed and don’t want to be seen in public nor by their friends with an overweight woman. I’ve never seen a 200 pound woman who wouldn’t look better if she lost 30 or 40+ pounds.

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    • Also, men like curves. Lose the fat keep the curves.

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    • EST. 1986

      It doesn’t work like that. But you would know that if you knew anything about women’s bodies.

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    • Your Soul Train article is weak. Just like other T.V. shows Soul Train will let they people they find most visually appealing on their show. Where there fat black men and women standing in line to get on that show? Yes.

      Where they allowed in? No. The people on Soul Train represent a small portion of the black population in the 60’s and 70’s. Using a TV show to reflect black life or appearances is ridiculously stupid.

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    • *Soul Train arguement is weak

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    • Why is it weak….. because you disagree? Those were average kids from the hood. The point is it wasn’t usual to find small young black women. They were considered normal size. Today you’d have to go through 100’s of black girls to get a room full that size.

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    • **correction**
      wasn’t UNUSUAL to find small young black women.

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    • The argument is actually not weak…our moms were in discos dancing their asses off all the time, cars were not as prevalent so they walked all of the time…also the hormones and additives weren’t in the foods like they are now…they add hormones to chickens and beef to fatten them….then we eat them and become fattened…also many women eat out a lot (I am 1 of 2 of my friends that cook daily) which can also attribute to weight gain..

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    • @Ms. Information

      Your arguement is sound, Tim’s isn’t. He used a tv show as an indicator for black health in the past. You gave legitimate reasons (lack of transport, hormones in food, more dining out) as to why people are bigger now then in the past. I can use shows like Love & Hip Hop and Basketball wives as an example and state that the majority black women are thin and thick, not fat but that wouldn’t be true and using tv as a reflect a reality never makes sense.

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    • @ YB,

      You kill me. How are you going to say Miss Info’s argument is sound, whilst Tim’s is not. They are saying the EXACT same thing, although I do have to agree Miss Info’s gave more reasoning. This is just an observation. I actually found your comment funny before you jump down my throught. Peace in the Clutch comment section.

      Ay YO! @Miss Info
      Hey mama! What it do!

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    • Wasn’t as much fast food, processed food and junk food eating back then. If most of us go through pics of relatives from prior to the 1980s those people were generally not as big. We have a sedentary tv watching processed quick food eating culture now. I have never seen my grandmother eat a tv dinner. She cooks everything. She is 85 years old and works out on an exercise bike 3 times a week. It’s a whole different mindset with the older generations. On the whole statistics show that Americans were not as obese as they are now 30 years ago.So basically, I agree with you. You make a valid point.

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    • Chelle5483

      “I’ve never seen a 200 pound woman who wouldn’t look better if she lost 30 or 40+ pounds.”

      Totally agree, if the woman is under 5′ 9″, 200 might look “ok” and they are beautiful women indeed, but some at this weight would be a knockout if they worked on it. Yes, I am one of them, totally working on it… lol.

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    • I agree, I’m pulling for you. If you get bored or tired of the normal workout routine try different things such as yoga, palates or even mountain climbing. Good Luck and Best wishes

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    • thinkpink

      I think all of these comments are sick. So a woman should lower her body weight not for health reasons but for the purpose of being visually appeasing to society? Objectification at its finest.

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    • thinkpink

      As someone who is 75 lbs down and counting I hope you have developed other reasons for losing weight than being “a knockout”. I can guarantee if that’s your or anyone else’s sole purpose for weight loss they will not be successful in the long term. DR. OZ’S book “You the owners Manual” is a great way to appreciate and learn what our bodies do for us daily and how to treat it well. It was vital in me viewing my body as a amazing machine that allows me to fully participate in life vs. a structure built for societies visual and physical pleasure.

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    • @ YB, I feel you….I think I am just more sympathetic than Tim. I have overweight friends and family members who don’t want to be that way and I just don’t think that some men understand what we go through on a daily basis as women….our culture has experienced so many changes from the 70’s I just think that we have to look at everything in order to see what needs to be changed….

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    • I’m out of breath after 1 flight and I weigh less than 130. lol. a mess. #gymdate

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  4. MimiLuvs

    I found this article to be interesting. Usually, Clutch has the articles that is geared to inspire over-weight/obese black women to make more positive choices in regards to their health (and bodies). So, to read this article is different. I wouldn’t say “refreshing”… Just different. I just hope that the comments doesn’t turn into the “Us versus Them” crap.

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    • You know it is gonna be “fat black women vs thick sistas vs skinny black woman and black men putting there two cents.” I don’t know but it seems that many black women of all sizes, even fat, try to mask their disdain and hate of fat black women under the guise of “caring for their health”. Righhhttttttt.

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    • Black men and women have more tolerance and are more accepting of overweight women than any other race in this country.

      Tell the truth. You want fat love, glorification and fat to be normalized.

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    • @Tim

      The school system has failed you. I shouldn’t have to spell out what I said and explain things to you just because your reading comprehension skills are sub par.

      Spare me your generalizations and made up statistics. I don’t know where you are from where being 5’8 and 143 pounds is fat. Wanting black men and women to have a genuine conversation on weight in the black community and figure out the issues and solutions instead of bitching and leaving mundane comments isn’t wanting fat love or admiration, but I’m not going to expect your mind to have enough sense to process that.

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    • @YB

      You need more people, hun. :-)

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  5. Reese

    I don’t really comment here, so I’ll keep my words simple and direct. It’s the author’s preference to favor thick and curly women. Unfortunately, I cannot and won’t fit in that category because my frame and stature won’t allow for that without chronic health concerns to arise. Genes are an important factor too. I’m petite (under 5′) and at a healthy weight (116 lbs). Women mainly comment on how “skinny” I am and how men want a thick woman, so they eat and don’t workout. If I had my way, I’d be an Amazon with define muscles, so I’ll settle for physical fitness and healthy eating. I believe men are attracted to confidence and goal-oriented women, but looks help for the initial attraction. I’ll work on myself, try to stay from shallow men and appreciate all women of various backgrounds, shapes and sizes.

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    • cabugs

      Boo, I’m under 5 feet too! Haha, I usually don’t concern myself with weight loss or gain, all I want is to gain inches. It’s kinda funny because while people think of their ideal weight, I worry about my ideal height – 5’2, but I’ll settle for 5 feet. I believe women stop growing when they are 22 so I keep hoping for that miracle that will lend me 2 or 3 inches, but I’m running out of time lol.

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    • Great posture makes everyone look taller :)

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    • Reese

      I’m 27. I just have to accept it and carry my ID at all times. Lol

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    • i’m 5’8 and wish i were 5’2. when i wear high heels i feel like a man because every other woman around me is wayy shorter (while in high heels,also). i just feel less feminine.

      i always thought it was cuter to be short and not able to reach things. instead i’m kind of a male replacement.”hey you’re tall. can you get that for me?”

      : (

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    • Under 5 feet as well…I feel so disconnected from the weight issue but can’t stand when people automatically call me “skinny” by default because I’m small. My body type is not skinny nor is it exactly “thick” …most accurate would be “petite”..like cabugs said, my primary concern is with ideal height…but that ship has sailed long ago lol

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