According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 57.6% of Black women over the age of 20 years old are considered obese. Too often we can look to the women in our family or even ourselves for the proof. We have been told by doctors that we need to shed the pounds because they are not only making us sick, but literally killing us.
But Black women have also been known to “wear their weight well”, proudly putting together cute outfits that flaunt their fuller figures and making sure their hair and nails stay on point. Fat and fly is a mantra and a way of life. However, sometimes this confidence might be masking a very real pain about one’s weight, in addition to a struggle with and addiction to food.
Lisa Respers France, senior producer for CNN Digital’s Entertainment section and star of the CNN Original Video series “Lisa’s Desk” wrote for CNN’s First Person, a series of personal essays exploring identity and personal points of view that shape who we are. Her essay, “A Fat Girl Gets Naked” is about being overweight and addicted to food; and is compelling and a moving testimony to the difficulties of overcoming this addiction.
You’ve met me before. I’m the fat, funny girl who is often hailed for my confidence and self-esteem. The big girl who has “such a pretty face” and who, despite her weight, manages to snag really great looking boyfriends.
I “dress really well for my size” and am so much fun to be around because of my outgoing personality.
“Don’t call me fat, I prefer the term ‘fluffy’ ” I say and you smile at how I am able to put you at ease about an uncomfortable subject.
I’m the first with a “Hell yeah!” fist pump for slogans like: “Sexy has no size” and “Love me for who I am, not what I look like.”
But I suffer from the one addiction that doesn’t elicit much sympathy from most people.
Respers France discussed how she became addicted to food and how she would use it to cope during sad events, like after breaking up with a boyfriend. She also admits her lack of self-worth (even though she is married and lives a full, blessed life) and how she is having the difficult conversations with herself to get to the root of the problem.
I know that so much of my food and weight issues are really about my emotions. That was driven home recently when a counselor suggested “When Food is Love” by Geneen Roth.
I was in my kitchen, waiting for dinner to be ready when I read this passage and broke down sobbing: “Compulsive behavior, at its most fundamental, is a lack of self-love; it is an expression of a belief that we are not good enough.”
At that moment I realized that I have been trying to fill my heart by filling my stomach. But pinpointing the pain means going places I fear.
The essay is raw, real and as the title suggests, filled with naked truths about one woman’s journey to overcoming addiction to food. Read the whole essay here.