Written by Penelope Farthing
I’ve got a radical suggestion that might make it a little easier to exist as a black woman of a certain size.
Hear me out.
Many black women are overweight, and a dangerous amount are obese. The English language has developed slang and new definitions of words to cover the range of sizes – thicc/thick (and by extension, thicker than a Snicker), big-boned (even though your bones stay the same size, and have to accommodate whatever weight of skin/muscle/fat is on it, whether it’s 150lbs or 350lbs), curvy (which meant something else just 20 or 30 years ago), chunky, phat, and many more.
You can be thick, but, in the wise words of Sir Mix A Lot, as long as you’re “little in the middle and got much back”, those extra pounds just need to be distributed in your thighs and lady pies and it’ll be fine. By normalizing obesity in our community, it will make a lot more black women more comfortable with their size. It takes the effort out of losing the weight, it will reduce the commentary and concern, real or not, about weight, and it requires no drastic lifestyle changes that the masses and so called medical “professionals” say is crucial to living a longer, healthier life.
If you deign to mention that a too many black women are obese and that it is not a good look for the collective, you are fatphobic and a jealous hater because you are not as confident or what have you. Black women will flood comment sections defending a woman’s right to be obese, and you know what? Maybe that should be the case. I would never say that obese people should just crawl in a corner and die, or should hate themselves, or should wallow in misery since they are overweight. They should love themselves as a work in progress if they have a goal to lose the weight, or love themselves as is if they don’t. It’s their health, not mine.
Social media has popularized the advent of build a body workshops, so if you’re unhappy with your body after exactly 12 minutes of diet and exercise and no results you can find yourself under the knife hands of a plastic surgeon ready to slice and dice you into the cartoonish proportions that have gained notoriety in the last year or two. This is not in the same realm as weight loss surgery, mind you; I wholly support a bypass or a sleeve if all other methods have been tried.
Obviously, I am speaking satirically. I am tired of black women getting pinned with negative imagery, such as wearing bonnets and sleep clothes outside, to a high out of wedlock rate, and so on. One would think a collective of fit, healthy black women would be something we could all agree on, and aspire to, but maybe in due time we’ll get there.
If being obese is not something you want for yourself, make the changes in your diet, exercise regimen, and mental health to prevent being a statistic. If gyms aren’t your thing, walking is great, because you can do it practically everywhere, and it’s free. Take the stairs, use more public transport. Ditch the fast food, and if you’re strapped for time, make a healthier choice instead. Follow some inspirational Instagram accounts, like Black Women Do Work Out, and set reasonable, attainable goals for yourself. Or don’t. The choice is yours.