Fat Chance

Saved this for after Mothers Day:

Four out of five black women are seriously overweight. One out of four middle-aged black women has diabetes. With $174 billion a year spent on diabetes-related illness in America and obesity quickly overtaking smoking as a cause of cancer deaths, it is past time to try something new.

What we need is a body-culture revolution in black America. Why? Because too many experts who are involved in the discussion of obesity don’t understand something crucial about black women and fat: many black women are fat because we want to be. — Alice Randall, in NYTimes

This week, I would like to receive comments from all women, black or white and everything in between, who are fat because they want to be.  Then I want to hear from all women who are NOT fat, but want to be.

I don’t think I’m going to get a lot of comments.

The writer, an author and professor, makes the usual pedagogical and academic maneuvers, citing historical and cultural arguments that convince people who find reality’s  3-dimensional presentation unpalatable.  She cites another author’s conclusion that the fat black woman’s body “functions as a site of resistance to both gendered and racialized oppression.”   We stupid white males probably think it has more to do with sugary beverages, fried food, and economics.

But she also cites her own experience.

I know many black women whose sane, handsome, successful husbands worry when their women start losing weight. My lawyer husband is one…..Another friend, a woman of color who is a tenured professor, told me that her husband, also a tenured professor and of color, begged her not to lose “the sugar down below” when she embarked on a weight-loss program.

Well, heading into this we all knew that if there was any blame to be assigned, it was going to be to men.

I’m also reminded of a line I read in one of Jim Harrison’s many novels about white midwesterners.  Noting the ample girth of many married rural women he sums up men’s attitudes: Why would I want a small wife when I could have a big one?

Nevertheless, Prof. Randall cuts through the crap and draws the correct conclusion:

I call on every black woman for whom it is appropriate to commit to getting under 200 pounds or to losing the 10 percent of our body weight that often results in a 50 percent reduction in diabetes risk. Sleeping better may be key, as recent research suggests that lack of sleep is a little-acknowledged culprit in obesity. But it is not just sleep, exercise and healthy foods we need to solve this problem — we also need wisdom.

In other words, just set aside what is irrelevant, even if it might be true.  There may be cultural factors (or not); there are husbands and lovers to consider (or ignore).  But this is life or death and everything else is less significant.  Fat is bad.  Fight it.

As for the rest of us, it’s more room on the bus seat and in the airplane.  Win-win.

This entry was posted in Gen. Snark, Maj. Snafu, Corp. Punishment. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Fat Chance

  1. Camiel Toe says:

    My experience tells me that most women who care at all don’t want to be fat, ever. That includes those who accept the reality that they’ll never be thin (or thin again, whatever).

  2. Moose and Squirrel says:

    I blame Bush.

  3. Nobody says:

    I’m fat because I wanna be.

  4. Libby Rae Shone, Ph.D. says:

    The author is exactly on point. Many people — black, white, male, female — choose to be heavier than what is considered fashionable or “average,” and the reasons for their choices very greatly with the individual. In may cases it’s simply because they’re not comfortable with a diet and lifestyle that would maintain lower weight. In other cases it’s an aesthetic preference which has cultural roots, as she described. Finally, some people simply don’t care. They like to eat. The *live* to eat.

    This results in severe health problems, and it is documented that African-American women suffer more than Americans generally.

    All that granted, pronouncing “Fat is bad” as you do here is the WRONG approach. It adds a moral stigma, contributing to the problem, where what is needed is for women to first accept (“own”) their circumstances, recognize their own pathology, and plot a course of action to address their problem. Just be advised, however, that many women will choose to do nothing, and that choice, too, must be respected.

    As a specialist in the field, I can attest that this last consideration is precisely the one that not only prevails within the population, it is also the one least understood and accepted by others.

    • Squathole says:

      Libby you made sense for 2 paragraphs. That’s an improvement. But then you toddle off to la-la land again.

      First of all, I suggested no moral stigma whatsoever. I wrote “Fat is bad,” not “Fat is evil:” It’s bad for all the health-related reasons the author recites.

      You and your fellow specialists are enablers who surrender too soon, and indulge people who need firm encouragement and guidance, not sympathy, pity, or acceptance. The author understands this and issues a challenge. You resist this and remain content with the status quo. If there’s a moral issue here, it’s your poor professional and inhuman approach to the very people you claim you’re out to help.

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