Mornin'

Michel here...just wanted to add a quick thought about yesterday's back of the book segment on black women and obesity. Debra Dickerson's provocative essay in Salon caught our attention. It kinda speaks for itself, but I can't help myself...it's titled, "Healthy, My A__" (fill in the blank).

She argues that part of the reason African American women are struggling with their weight are all the cultural messages telling them it's okay — the greasy food, the shout-outs from the brothas who want to see some "junk in the trunk."

Now, it seems to me that women all over this country are struggling with weight issues — whether it's the pressure among Hollywood starlets to be dangerously thin (Hello? Nicole Richie?) or the ballerinas before them, or black and Latina women struggling to keep their weight and blood pressure in check.

We also invited jasmyne Cannick, blogger extraordinaire to give her take. She's trying to lose weight for health reasons.

So, what's your take? Is the culture killing black women by encouraging unhealthy habits? Is the relationship between what's culturally sanctioned/appreciated and what's healthy for you causing you stress?

If you are NOT African American, can you relate?

Please, dish...

Comments

 

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WELL I CAN'T SPEAK FOR ALL AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN BUT BEING OVER WEIGHT IS NOT SAFE FOR OUR WOMEN AND IT IS NOT SO MUCH THE WEIGHT THAT IS GAIN, IT IS THE FOOD, THE FOOD NOW IS SO BAD YOU REALLY HAVE TO TAKE YOUR TIME CAREFULLY IN BUYING THE RIGHT FOOD FOR YOUR BODY. THE MEAT IN THIS COUNTRY IS BAD, ESPECIALLY THE BEEF. BUT I INSIST THAT MY BEATIFUL BLACK BETTER HALF TO EXCERCISE, EAT AND SLEEP CAREFULLY AND TRY TO STAY AWAY FROM AS MUCH STRESS AS POSSIBLE AND I AS A BLACK MAN PRACTICE ALSO WHAT I PREACH.

Sent by Bobby C. Roberts | 10:19 AM | 6-12-2007

I am not African American, but I can totally relate with what Jasmyne Cannick said. As someone with a very low income it is incredibly difficult for me to afford healthy food - unfortunately, most food that you can buy on a budget is not particularly good for you. Also, I think that serving fried foods and beans with lard and pork and greens is not just an African American thing - my grandmother is from Kentucky, and one of the "healthy" things she tries to give me is hamburgers with both the buns and patties fried in butter.

Sent by Alyson | 12:47 PM | 6-12-2007

I believe its hard to find healthy food because for the most part, the healthier food is more expensive. This applies to both men and women in all communities in America. I make it a personal point to avoid consuming ANY foods that contain HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP and that would include a lot of foods; but I would suggest that to all others as a healthy way of reducing obesity. -RF.

Sent by Rhone Fraser | 2:37 PM | 6-12-2007

I think the problem lies with how we have gone from a race of people who once valued our sisters as prize possesions to the now denigrating of their worth. If the hiphop media continues to exploit them, eventually their self esteem and respect is totally lost. As a brother who loves our sisters and would not have a white woman, I would like to see all of these idiots erased off the face of the earth. If they would just go to school, get jobs and take care of their children instead of preying on white women to take care of them, then maybe we can return to a more civilized group of people. Let's face it, most of our brothers are wasting their lives on alcohol, marijuana and other sickening ills that exacerbate the stereotype and degrade us all as a people. White America and its perverted ways have taken over. Disguised as freedom of expression and thought, has our time and era paralleled to sodom and gomorrah. Only Almighty God's Kingdom can erase this nightmare and prostitution of women all over the globe that is due to our popular hip-hop culture.

Sent by E | 7:15 PM | 6-12-2007

I am not an African American woman, but I have struggled with my weight.

I think the notion that a woman would be heavy because she receives a cultural signal that condones it is ridiculous. I'm not arguing that there is no cultural component, but I don't think it is so superficial. There are many factors contributing to an individual's weight-access to health care, free time for working out, and a sufficient income for purchasing healthier food for starters.

Are thin people only thin because they receive signals that is is NOT acceptable to be overweight?

Sent by Mamie | 9:13 PM | 6-12-2007

We are what we eat. If the only affordable options for lower income folks are high fat foods, well then, there you have it. On the other hand, educating oneself and learning to make healthier choices at the market can go a long way toward helping reduce the waist size of ALL Americans.

Sent by Mary Crain | 8:09 AM | 6-13-2007

As a race we need to concentrate on being with in our correct BMI range, everyone has different body types.

Now haven't said that I agree with E Black women we are being exploited to the point where if you happen to have a Body like "Buffy the Body", while many black men might find that appealing--most other cultures can not relate to this look, and because she's being exploited it turns it into a "raunchy" and "nasty".

If she was exposed in a more "softer" artistic light, she probably would appeal to more people.

I feel sorry for these girls, because you NEVER SEE celebrity men with these types of woman. It's like their made to be exploited, used and abused.
And it must stop

Sent by Deep Thinker | 9:32 AM | 6-13-2007

I dont necessary feel that its is approved my black men. I think that yes black men prefer their women to be thick. See most black men like thick women with big butts..I'm a black woman and I look around and it does look like alot of our people women is heavier than before. Its the food that we are eating and not exercising properly. We really need to look at how we can really get this weight off because being overweight no matter what your race is, is very unhealthy!! And when you go to a mall it's very few stores that offer plus size clothes. You have to go to the black neighborhoods to get plus size clothes.

Sent by blackraspberry | 9:56 AM | 6-13-2007

This Report can be true and not. I'm black african, i love woman with curves but not obese and most of blacks(africans or americans)like that too. i think nobody would like to see her partner obese(my opinion)

Sent by Roberto Sony | 9:56 AM | 6-13-2007

As an African-American woman with a very petite frame, (a healthy size 0-3), I find that society does condone/encourage obesity in black women. I have often been critized by black men and black women alike for not being "thick" enough. My culture makes it seem as though I'm not sexy enough and lack the appeal that a larger woman has simply because my thighs don't jiggle when I walk and my belly doesn't lap over the waist of my pants. In music videos, I see women of unhealthy sizes dancing and gyrating around and the men enjoy it because they have large backsides. The comedian Monique has a book entitled "Skinny women are evil". If I weren't secure with myself, I would have severe body issues, even though I'm a healthy, physically fit woman.

Sent by B Williams | 10:34 AM | 6-13-2007

I totally agree with the author of the article.While it is true that
African-American women are built differently from European women,that is by no means an excuse for the rising rates of obesity in our community. We have somehow substituted the word "thick" for the term obsese. There is no reason that we have 12 year old girls wearing a size 12 in womens. The child's weight as nothing to do with genetics, but is instead a by product of poor eating habits and lack of excercise. While I do not promote the white image of beauty, being a stick thin figure, somewhere we as African-American must admit our faults. For generations we have promoted high fatty foods, and minimal excercise. And this has become a catalyst for obesity, but instead of addressing the problem, we instead put a bandage over it and call it "thickness".

Sent by Tia Peterson | 10:34 AM | 6-13-2007

There are truths to this article. I'm a 26-year-old black woman who is naturally small-framed. As a teen, my family members would often say that I must have had an eating disorder or that I must be trying to lose weight. This was very far from the truth. I actually wished that I could be as voluptuous as they were. I'll never forget walking down the street after school one day and hearing a group of boys comment on how flat my behind was, and how I wasn't "black". That was at least 13 years ago, but I'll never forget it. Those sentiments have made me want to gain unhealthy weight. I've done protein diets, ingested unhealthy foods, taken supplements, and even considered plastic surgery to meet "thick" standards. It's amazing how diffrent cultures have such different standards of beauty. My non-black co-workers applaud how small I am. My black ones lament over why I diet (when I really don't). Just look at Nicole Ritchie. Then, turn the dial to a BET video to see Deelishus or Buffy the Body. We really have to turn off our radios and TV's for our sake and the sake of our next generation of young women because the mixed messages are enought to drive anyone insane!

Sent by Kim Yero | 11:02 AM | 6-13-2007

I don't think is an issue but I do think that there are weight issues in the African American community. I am a black female that has struggled with my weight as well. I have a lot of female friends that engage in alot of harmful activities to be thin. Whether it is eating once a day or taking pills instead of eating, I believe that nutrition is what African Americans are lacking today. I think you are confusing to loving your body and the need to be healthy with just obesity.

Sent by Lenee | 11:59 AM | 6-13-2007

l am from Toronto and am a black female . like most,l live pay to pay. I disagree that the only options are fatty sugar laced foods. I shop on the clearance rack for some fruits and veggies and live by the flyers for specials. I think the problem is we don't want to take the time to try to eat healthy. l cook on Sunday for 3 hours for the week to take meals to work for lunch and have for dinner, l rarely eat out and bring snacks to work like sweet peppers, tuna , jello. The cooking method is passed down from gerations where real cream and butter was not an issue as it is now so no one has taught them any different. my meals look like resturant meals and l try new recipes to keep my interest. Funny thing is that when i visit the States it overwhelms me that junk food and resturants are cheaper than the supermarkets. It's the peoples choice to make- they want to eat this junk and are lazy to do any different. l am a size 11/12 but has nothing to do with what I eat . l consume 2-3 L of water everyday and read labels so l know what l'm consuming. Not only black men like meaty woman European men love it too. The convience of fast food is the lure.

Sent by Nicole | 12:04 PM | 6-13-2007

I sympathize with B. Williams: I am 5 feet tall and weigh about 111-114. I had serious self esteem issues as a teen because I wasn't "thick" and at one point, was really considering weight gaining measures.

For black women, being "too thin" carries a LOT of stigma.

I disagreed with a point I heard Cannick make and one I hear frequently - this notion that black women are "naturally" bigger than white women. I think there's this romanticized notion that black women have all bought into - it says that African women are "naturally voluptuous," insinuating that black women with African genetics just have big 'ole breasts and butts. Well look over in Africa - it's simply not true. And even if it were, black American women aren't walking around large and shaped like coke bottles - they're large and shaped like beer kegs.

Telling ourselves that being 5'6 and 135 is impossible for black woman (Cannick said that and floored me) just becomes a crutch and a justification for weighing more than you should. It becomes a convenient excuse - when if you really look at most people, they're overweight because they lack discipline to give up high fat foods. It's that simple.

Black folks have not historically exercised. Unfortunately, many of us have put exercising into that big box of (often good for you) things that we resist because they're "white."

Also, sorry, but I disagree that healthy food is expensive. I think the things people are trained to consider "healthy" - ie "diet" this and "low fat" that may be pricey. But beneath all the packaging, those things are processed and often aren't healthy at all. Fresh or frozen corn, a pack of chicken breasts and a box of rice cost less and can feed you longer than three McDonald's meals a day.

Sent by DW | 12:15 PM | 6-13-2007

I had the same experince as you Kim Yero.I was naturally small.That is just me.I was teased horribly by family members,kids,etc.I wouldn't wear shorts in the summer,even if it was 102 degrees.I ate just like everyone else,but my body was just different.Black men didn't want to date me.I was bone thin,I was just smaller.Men of other races found me attractive but my own race didn't.The women were cruel as well.I am 5'5 and weight around 125lbs.Do you know some people still say I'm too thin.I'm still dealing with this issue today.
I also agree with the other comment-WE NEED TO TURN OFF THE TV!STOP WATCHING THESE MUSIC VIDEOS!
When I tell some people I excercise,they look at me like what for.Now I know other black women who do excercise and are small and large,it's good to be around them.They make me feel like a am normal when for a large part of my life I didn't.

Sent by Dana | 1:01 PM | 6-13-2007

BLACK MEN PREFERR BLACK WOMEN WHO ARE "THICK" NOT FAT UNLESS THE DUDE IS SUPER SKINNY AND THOSE USUALLY THE ONES WHO WANT A 250 - 300 POUND WOMEN! BUT, BLACK MEN DON'T LIKE SKINNY WOMEN JUST THE "THICK" YOU KNOW.... THE BIG BUTTS AND THICK THIGHS!

Sent by ARCELIA | 1:38 PM | 6-13-2007

I don't agree w/ the the article at all! I'm a medium framed AA woman (size 8-10). I do not approved of the term "thick" either. AA women tend to have fuller backsides than many other cultures. Obesity is not condoned in the AA community...obesity is condoned by a generation. Most young women ages 25-10 are overweight and content. They have poor food in their areas and they cannot afford to buy the types of foods they should be eating. No one seemed to have a problem w/ AA women being full figured until it became "cute" for women of other cultures to have booties & bodies like AA women. You can't have it both ways. Personally I think that if you're happy w/ your body, no matter the size...then you should stick w/ it. If people would work on themselves instead of finding faults and offering stupid opinions about non-issues that the world would be a much better place.

Sent by KCicago | 1:41 PM | 6-13-2007

I appreciate the concern that Debra Dickerson expressed regarding Black women's health as it relates to weight; however, it troubles me that she attributes or at the very least correlates this problem with the sexual preferences of black men.

First of all, I am suspicious of her evidence. She refers to these new magazines featuring overweight models. Just because men may find these images exciting or salacious does not mean that they really desire these women. It could be that they find the idea of sex with these women in someway tantitilizing, but I don't believe for one minute that they are imagining anything more than a sexual encounter (and that image is anything but respectful and loving). In other words, these magazines may have found a new image to ignite lusts, which is they aim to do anyway.

As the discussion demonstrated, the roots of obesity and being overweight run deep, including economic, cultural, and pyschological factors. Let's be careful about implicating brothers, and let's not play sisters so shallow. Since when did we begin to model ourselves after models in porn mags? Since when was a holla anything but an expression of physical attraction?

Given the fractious state of marriage and family within the African American community, I don't think we need to add another accusation to our load of care. Perhaps women should accept the challenge for dealing with their health, and men should be supportive and leave that porn alone!

Sent by Anonymous | 1:47 PM | 6-13-2007

I am an african american woman and i feel as if i am over weight because i am stressed and i am always on the go so i am always trying to pick something up outside instead of being at home to take care of myself and cook. Also i am 30 years old and studies show that when you reach 30 your weight is harder to come off than normal. We need to come up with a solution instead of placing blame on race

Sent by Genesis | 2:03 PM | 6-13-2007

I myself am a black woman and I have to say that people are completely misunderstanding what black men like. The majority of black men I know say they like a woman to be thick meaning nice thick thighs and a round bottom, let's not confuse this with overweight. I have never heard anyman really say they want an overweight female....just one with meat on her bones and not 115 lbs.For those who aren't sure what thick is take a look at Beyonce, J-Lo , Buffie the Body...etc

Sent by Ms. Run It | 2:24 PM | 6-13-2007

As A black man, I must ask. Why everytime a black person speaks we
must start the statement off as "as a black______" are we somehow not speaking as a black person if we don't put that qualifier on?

I love thick women, I love fat women. But I do admit that it is unhealthy for our sisters to be that way

Sent by Derek | 2:32 PM | 6-13-2007

As a skinny African-American woman, I agree with the article. Black men do like their women with 'a lil meat on their bones. I mean look at America's infatuation with J-Lo, now butt implants are becoming popular. I don't mean eat unhealthy but who would survive in the woods longer a 110 pounder or 180 pound woman. U decide...

Sent by gabbbygyrl | 4:27 PM | 6-13-2007

that is an ignorant comment! black men like their women thicke(which means having natural womanly curves is all the right places) not fat

Sent by Lule M | 4:41 PM | 6-13-2007

I was constantly warned and told that I was getting fat as a child, I especially remember an occasion when my father pointed to my budding breasts and said what's that? I was no overfed and remember being more hungry then than now.
The results? I'm fat on all sides of course!

Sent by B. Adu | 5:06 PM | 6-13-2007

I really enjoyed this segment of your show. I'm a young woman living in South Korea. My friends and I enjoy working out and eating well. I will never look like most Korean women, who have much smaller bones and faster metabolisms, and I'm not willing to give up ice cream in an attempt to become perfectly (or disgustingly) lean. In Korea, I am overweight but in America, I am average for my height. It's difficult to have a realistic idea of a healthy weight and shape, and to feel satisfied with your own body when it will never meet today's standard idea of beauty. Also, we need to stop looking to men to set that standard.

Sent by Brie | 5:27 PM | 6-13-2007

Why do people focus on nonsensical issues like this, even if it's true for some men why generalize all black men in the africn american community? Aren't there more positve areas of concerns to be noted or talked about since people like you have a forum to do so? I'm also a size 2-4 and have been criticized from since I was a child. Today, I'm proud of my 123lbs weight and would not change it for no man black white or other

Sent by SharonB | 5:34 PM | 6-13-2007

I just think that African-Americans have to figure out ways to eat healthier and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Our people are more prone to high blood pressure and diabetes, therefore we should take more precaution. That part of the article I agree with. But the part about the tastes of African-American men, I dont agree with. Not all women like I, eat fatty foods to grow big butts and big thighs, sometimes it is something genetic and natural to you. A lot of of them do find this attractive and I do think that it is an image of beauty and not only sex. The media and the porno takes this part of a womans body and makes it negative. How could one say that something God made is not beautiful and only viewed on a lustful sexual level. We do not value woman in society today. But it is also not right that women should feel they must eat more food to achieve this look. Women should be happy with their looks no matter what. You cant let a man tell you how you should look. He did not make you and put you on this earth, therefore only you can decide.

Sent by NWhaley | 6:22 PM | 6-13-2007

i think you have big butt and big breast mixed with obease. black men want the big breast big butt and flat stomach.like beyonce. jlo trina

Sent by tina | 7:12 PM | 6-13-2007

Have you ever tried to go to a grocery store in the ghetto? I haven't but, I have noticed that in most ghetto's there aren't any grocery stores just random Liquor shops, corner stores, and occasional fast food joints. Basically, people who live in the ghetto have to catch the bus outside of their zipcode and bring back groceries on the bus. Therefore, they can't afford to buy in bulk, go to the cheapest places, or even search for a bargain. All they can do is buy what they can afford and sadly these days the cheapest things are the worst things to eat. Back in the old days it was a luxery to eat meat, and fattening things. These days organic food, fresh produce, and other unprocessed foods are exclusively for the middle class and upper class. In decent neighborhoods grocery stores compete with eachother. In lower class all black neighborhoods the corner store sells chicken, fish, and beef all in the same cooler for a 1.10 more per pound than it should cost and they expect for that to be okay because, you can't go anywhere else without paying to travel there.

Sent by Kimberly | 8:11 PM | 6-13-2007

I THINK THIS IS A VERY TRUE,SERIOUS AND GRAY AREA TOPIC. FISRT THING I THINK ALOT OF COMMENTATORS/AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE ARE FORGETTING. MOST BLACK WOMEN/MEN LIVING IN AMERICA ARE NOT 100% AFRICAN. I DO NOT CARE HOW BLACK THE SKIN IS AND HOW HOOD THEY ACT. WE FORGET MOST OF OUR LAST NAMES ARE OF OUR PLANTATIONS OWNERS. WHICH DERIVE FROM MANY RACES, BUT HISTORY HAS JUST TAUGHT US THAT AFRICAN GENETICS HAVE BEEN FOUND IN EVERY NATIONALITY ON EARTH. THE OBESE ISSUE IS KIND OF GRAY. LOTS OF MEN BLACK/WHITE/GREEN LIKE THICK BUTTS,THIGHS AND BREASTS. BUT, JUST BEING OBESE AND BEING FOND OF BECAUSE OF IT IS JUST RIDICULOUS. BLACK/AFRICAN PEOPLE HAVE NOT REALLY BEEN INTO EXCERSICE, BECAUSE ALL OF OUR EXERCISES ARE NORMAL ACTIVITIES OF LIFE. SUCH AS RUNNING,BASKETBALL,DANCING,HUNTING,FISHING FOR FOOD ,KICK BALL ,STICK BALL, AND RED LIGHT GREEN LIGHT ETC. THE SAVY OF THE NEW AGE HAS MADE NUMEROUS PEOPLE LAZY. WHEN LIFE WAS MORE SIMPLE YOU ENJOYED A WALK AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD OR TO THE PARK TO PLAY.

Sent by SHAMANZI | 10:37 PM | 6-13-2007

As a black SLIM woman, I can honestly say this is a lie. The black men I know will not date a big girl. They wouldn't be caught died with one. I been with my husband for 16 years and I know for a fact that he would never date a heavy sister. He said big girls look nasty and they are not attractive to him. He said he don't like to see rolls of fat hanging off a woman and that there is nothing sexy about that.

Sent by Tonia | 12:11 AM | 6-14-2007

There is a grain of truth and also a lot of nonsense in this article. Most Non-European cultures like women with curves. Curves being hips, breast and thighs and shapley legs. Curves does not mean overweight, back fat, stomach rolls and cellulite. Those are obvious signs of being unhealthy. Lots of women like to claim being big boned, but that is only an excuse. We need to defeat diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure by maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle, as a human beings, not just one race over another.

Sent by Andria | 7:56 AM | 6-14-2007

Could there be any corrolation to the fact that black women are one of the most underrepresented groups in GYMS. Actually working out, not just walking slow on the treadmill. I don't know but all of the above posts are alright but if I have a problem I aggressively pursue a solution. So with that if I was an overweight individual I would do things that would lead to having a better body. It sickens me to go to the gym everyday and generally never see any black women actually working out. It mystifies me to hear and read all of this rhetoric about food, the media, what black men want, etc., and think that of all of the people suffering from this physical condition few are physically doing anything aggressive to cure it. And just for the record it would be nice if NPR would do a show about men of means/wealthy men's likes corrolated to overweight women. I think that would shed alot of light on the subject/situation. Most men that have degrees or are making decent income prefer that their women go to the gym and workout. Yes we like round rear ends and nice chests but those things could be had while still being physically active. Laziness is more of a culprit here than anything else. Go to the gym sistas and work out don't wait until its too late, its a 100xs harder when you do it that way.

Sent by D | 8:39 AM | 6-14-2007

Like Jasmyne, I was overweight and I never really considered myself overweight. It wasn't until I enrolled in grad school and about a year into I found myself huffin' & puffin' as I was walking up a hill on campus. I was just over 30 years of age then and I knew something needed to change.

I began working out with a person trainer, but I wasn't really losing a lot of weight. I hadn't changed my eating habits. Once I changed my eating habits, following guidelines by weight watchers, the pounds started dropping. I'm down 58 pounds and the holla factor, as you call it, has definitely increased.

I think it is a part of the African-American community to accept a healthier size woman. In fact, some men prefer larger women. I do, however, think the African-American community needs to make a change and realize that we should value our health and change our eating habits so that we have a more healthy lifestyle.

Sent by ernise | 2:44 PM | 6-14-2007

"Junk in the Truck" does not mean "Belly full of Jelly". As a man from the VI, we still go by the cliche, "Cute in the face, THIN in the waist, plump in the right place."

Sent by Jamal | 6:58 PM | 6-14-2007

Reading the article I just had to leave a comment. I am a 28 yr old black woman who weighs 128lbs. I agree with the stigma about being black and overweight/thick. I get alot of critisim on my frame and it gets me very upset. Instead of people saying oh.. u look good..they rather say ummm u lost alot of weight and i have to tell these haters I LOVE IT. eVEN IF i AM INSECURE A LITTLE ABOUT MY FRAME I WILL NOT LET IT SHOW!!! p)LUS ITS THE DESIREABLE WEIGHT W/ MY HEIGHT. I've come to learn that they just mad my frame is original; so they say "tell me what u do so I can do it".....after I show them i Love my small natural frame I bet they all are prone for health problema due to their size...I'm FINE!...

Sent by Leema | 10:57 PM | 6-14-2007

Is there some kind of statistical anomoly that states that African-American and Latino women are more likely to be other weight than other races? If not, then why would the reasons for their weight gain be any different than for other races?

Sent by Scott K. | 10:07 PM | 6-15-2007

I'm an African-American male nutritionist who is finishing his PhD in nutrition and whose research has been a study of overweight & obesity among high school (including body image) in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where rates of obesity among females there seem to now be as high as the most recent rates among African American adolescent females (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) who have the highest rates overweight among females (as an ethnic/racial group) in the United States. Overweight & obesity among black women indeed a highly complex & emotionally charged issue. It's a health & also a cultural issue.. and also an issue that reflects dietary & exercise behavior tendencies in the extended aftermath of extensive oppression that involved intense physical labor (a very understudied aspect). That last aspect, I think, addresses the question someone raised as to whether there was statistical anomaly about African-American & Latino being more prone to overweight. There is an extensive and actually perplexing literature on the history of preference of the preference for larger bodies that goes back to West Africa (look up "The Fattening Rooms of Nigeria") and appears to have survived the transatlantic crossing and seems to be live and well all over the Caribbean as well as in the U. S. and the African Diaspora in general. There is a host of academic studies on this phenomenon (go to this web site at the National Library of Medicine: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed and just put in the search words BLACK BODY IMAGE - and you'll see over 200 results; you'll only be able to read the summaries/abstracts without online subscriptions to the journals themselves - but you can at least see what's "out there"). One theory is that this preference originally complemented the understanding that during times of scarcity (characteristic of most of the world until very recently), higher body fat in females symbolized greater fertility, which is consistent with estrogen production (other extreme known in medical studies: some marathon women with extremely low body fat, most of whom are white). Perhaps this aesthetic, under such historical conditions, conferred a survival advantage based on an apparently internalized understanding of a real biological phenomenon. There is one biological theory of the "thrifty gene hypothesis" that suggests that populations of African descent from the tropics developed adaptive mechanisms of lower resting energy output that may have allowed for surviving heat better and/or surviving under low food access conditions better, which in turn only becomes problematic when there is exposure in the opposite direction: excess calories (energy) and low physical output???our current reality with today's types of sedentary lifestyle and access to richer and just "more" food.
The conditions in the Western world (high fat, high salt, & high sugar characteristics of African American (soul food) & Caribbean diets) were introduced during slavery and may have helped blacks survive (and be able to endure harsh labor in heat re cheap high energy sources, and not dehydrate). These "slave" foods became our culture... and now - the combination our continuing with these ???rich??? foods that helped us work hard physically??? but we???re not working hard physically anymore (in our jobs, for most) along with greater access to cheap, rich calories in fast & convenience foods??? all adds to the ???mess??? of African-American obesity??? and the outcomes (excessive diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and others??? and undue illness & premature death). While many say (as on broadcast) that black women do have larger hips.... we also must remember that the fastest Olympic sprinters, female as well as male, in the world are black (from whatever continent they come from)... and many of the most esteemed marathon runners (especially of East African background), female & male, are also black. So??? how does this fit in the picture of these generalizations even black women tend to conveniently make about themselves and their weight re height? Think about it! I think we need to be careful with oversimplistic generalizations. These latter women are highly fit, and while (particularly those of West African) background may have more muscular structures, and a larger gluteus maximus than their white (and other) counterparts???their percentages of body fat are also lower. Same for Venus & Serena.
The current situation of lower access to affordable healthier fast foods in so many of our neighborhoods coupled with an over representation of fast food businesses, and unhealthy advertising & media images - add to the problem. Why don't more African-American women start walking clubs, dancing clubs... going to the local track in groups... and so on? Some innovative, creative changes need to be made at the cultural level. We do need to learn to drink water when thirsty instead of soda, Kool-Aid, and/or any other concentrated liquid sugar source. We do need to demand & create safe environments to walk/run/exercise outdoors in... and have greater access to affordable healthier foods... in nice, clean stores in our own neighborhoods, and it not be considered a non-black thing to eat leaner & have leaner bodies (but still not necessarily Twigis). People like Monique are dangerous??? positive self-esteem at any size, ???yes??? ??? but promoting overweight as though there are no negative health risks??? ???not good.??? While this focus is on adult females, even more dangerous is the situation with youger and younger black (especially female) children becoming obese... and coming on their menstrual periods at younger and younger ages... and this being known to be associated with increased breast cancer risks. It's not just an aesthetic issue!

Sent by Edward C. Jones | 4:29 AM | 6-19-2007

If we as black people have naturally big butts, then why would we need to eat extra food to make it even bigger.

What people don't understand is that you can be thin and have a big butt too.
We as black men need to start commenting about the waist line.

If we as black men were to promote big butts with small waists, we would truly be promoting a beatutifull but healthy and athletic look. (which is what we really wanted the whole time)
It an athletic look that we like, not thickness.(which most likely means fat in our community)

Sent by Lamont Height | 4:27 PM | 6-20-2007

I am a 32 year-old black female and I cannot see that many black men like heavy women. I am full-figured and men tend to pass me by as If I am an ugly woman and i am not. i even had black men to say behind my back that they would date me but I am to big. This have hurty my feelings and it inhibited my shyness. My slimmer friends don't have this problem. I don't think men like heavy women but they like thick women which are video girl size. i hope a black male respond to my post because i wanna know why so many black males have a problem with heavy women.

Sent by Tamia Walker | 10:30 PM | 6-20-2007

I don't believe that a Negro woman would want to be over-sized because of the Negro man. To me it is how they gain the weight and how it spreads over their body. The vast majority of black women that I see have a big butt. When they gain weight, the majority of the weight goes to area. Looking at them from the side makes many of them look larger with the big butt. It the food that they eat and getting no exercise. Hail, to Pop-eye chicken. Micky-D, Burger King, Wendy, Kentucky fried and all the other fast food places. You know, in the sixties, the Negroes marched to sit down and eat with the White folks. Now we see the evidence of it. In the old days, we only ate home grown food and home cooked. No, Honey, now they are paying for it, with big butts. LOL

Sent by Sharon Ann Pickett | 7:34 PM | 6-22-2007

Look people! there is no magic pill to help you loose weight. Hi I am a beautiful and positive black woman I am confident in my self and my curves ,but to be honest I look forward to being a size 8. I am currently a size 14 so I have got a lot of work to do ,but before I got started on loosing weight I had to make sure my reasons for loosing the weight was strictly based on a practical decision throughly thought out. I have concluded that I am loosing the weight fisrt and for most because I will feel more comfortable in a size 8 and second becuse I have such a positive self image on the inside that I want it to reflect on the outside. I have lost 30 pounds in the past and it was no cake walk ooooh cake; anyway it was a lot of sweat and tears to get the weight off and I am up for the challenge again. Moreover, its not always the food you eat its portion sizes. in addition, if you are on a budget as I was when I first started to loose weight I was not even working just living off my unemployment with two kids however I made eating healthy a family afair and loosing weight was for me was included in the total package. to all the women and men especially my black brothas and sistas I solute you for taking the weight loss challenge it is not easy , but in the words of Dr. King we shall over come. God Bless
and this message is for allllll who read it and need a workd of engcouragement to loose weight.

Sent by Rakia B. | 9:20 PM | 6-25-2007

Yes, there's an epidemic of unhealthy african american people overall. Two out of every three adults (66%)today are considered either overweight or obese. 17% of all children in the U.S. are overweight. 80% of adult women and 67% of adult men are overweight. 20% of African-American teenagers between the ages of 12-19 are overweight, this number continues to rise. Our teenagers are developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. In typing this information I say as a whole, we all need to think, eat and feel healthy now. I challege every one who had sent a comment to check out www.50millionpound.com and start the process of a healthier you and stop making excuses about bigger butts. Learn more about our bodies and what we can do to live healthier, longer lives. I down for the challenge are you?

Sent by tyina2 | 9:57 PM | 6-25-2007

Yep... I agree. I am a 5'0 brown woman born in america. My weight fluctuates between 103-118lbs and I always get more attention from latino, black, white, asian (you name it) men & woman when i am fuller. I have even had people tell me i need to get some meat on my bones. Furthermore, due to an illness my weight went down to about 100lbs and (although, I felt like I looked like a crackhead) many women told me how fabulous I looked and wanted to know my secret!!

Sent by Catherine B. | 8:48 PM | 6-26-2007

There are lots of reasons to be concerned about the growing obesity rate among African Americans. But Buffie is certainly not the right(respectively wrong) role model to be concerned about. Although she never reveals her weight, her body mass index is certainly below the danger zone that starts with a BMI of 30.
However, physicians found out that a body fat distribution like her (at her butt and on her thighs) is less likely to cause heart insufficiencies than the body fat distribution of overweight white women who store their fat reserves around their waist.
I do not believe the information that she never works out. In a magazine interview, she stated that she visits the gym three times a week, doing 30 minutes of cardio and lots of sets for her butt, her thighs and her waist. Her weight training sets are very demanding, even for a man like me. Without her big and strong gluteus maximus, she would not be able to shake big booty in such an impressive way. A woman with a relatively slim upper body like her won't get such powerful glutes just by protein drinks. To a white European man like me she doesn't look fat, but healthy.

Sent by Christopher | 8:58 AM | 7-3-2007

Some of the comments are really amazing to me. Weight issues aren't just an African-American woman problem. As a black female, Ive struggle with my weight as well, but not because I'm not thick enough but because I'm "too thick" for the black men in my community.Many of the men here don't want black women for whatever reasons. And my height plays a huge role in that considering I'm over six feet tall. I've always been heavier that my friends and family despite my regular exercise and healthy eating habits. It wasn't until recently that I discovered I have Lupus, an auto-immune diease that ccauses huge fluctuations in my weight that I have almost no control over. But when men look at me I appear to be perfectly healthy and the assumption is made that I'm overweight because I'm lazy. Quite the contrary. I don't want to be heavy, I'm nurse and understand the risks of being obese. I've taught my children to be healthy and thankfully they are. But society must understand that most of us don't want to be fat and making the assumption that we're all lazy is a hateful view point and an easy one to make when you've never walked a mile in these shoes. Not every Black woman wants "junk in hue trunk" or breast like an old slave mammy. Some of us just want to be healthy and happy and live another day.

Sent by E. Brown | 11:23 AM | 7-13-2007

I'm a over weight AAW i'm also loww income you can buy the same traditional foods it's how you prepare it. Bake, grill or put it on the George foremen. It can be done take the salt out leave the chips and pop alone (diet too).. Just cutting out the pop you will notice a difference in your stomach (bloating. You must walk I had a mental block I just couldn't see myself walking around a track it just seemed like so much work so I walked back and forth from my drive way about 6 times I increased more and more as time went on. It can be done trust me I made up more excuses like now I've fell off the wagon. BUT I CAN BE DONE!

Sent by TAS | 11:39 AM | 7-13-2007

I am an African-American woman who has battled weight problems all of my adult life. I know some people won't agree, but poverty is a major factor among the minority community and a contributor to our healthy eating issues. I'm old enough now to realize, however, that not all fat people are unhealthy and all thin people aren't healthy. I think the reason poverty affects how we eat is not just because we can't afford healthy food, but because we get depressed over our financial situation - which then leads to emotional eating. I don't have any statistics to back this up. It's just based on my personal experience (and that of family & friends). If you're depressed about your financial situation, about the fact that you can't eat right, dress well etc... then you may resort to eating cheap food and snacks etc. in order to compensate. My daughter is a plus-size woman and she's gone through a lot because of it. But, I'm proud of the fact that she's not letting it get her down. She decided to become a fashion designer... which takes care of her problem of not being able to find cute clothes in her size and it's helped her self-esteem a whole lot. She doesn't do the 'emotional' eating much because she's happier with herself. And that, to me, is the most important thing. We must learn how to love ourselves. I know it's hard, because of the media and our fat-phobic society. But there's more to us than what we weigh (as Tyra Banks points out on her show). And we have to remember that fact. Thanks for letting me have my say.

Sent by Dorez | 1:52 PM | 7-17-2007

That African American women are encouraged to be overweight by African American men is absolutely ludicrous -an atrociously weak, ill informed as well as illogical argument- the problem is too much of the wrong food, not black men???s preferences. My grandmother cooked and ate food laden with butter and bacon grease and was never fat and no one in the family was for two reasons. Firstly, neither she nor the rest of the family ate that much. We got one modest serving and no seconds. Secondly what we ate in those days was real food. Everything was cooked from scratch. When I was a child there were only a few kinds of what we called "cold " cereal-- cornflakes, rice crispies, wheaties and cherrios. Now breakfast cereals take up two long supermarket aisles. I can recall when processed meal time aids such as rice-a-roni and hamburger helper first came on the scene. Today there are scores of such products in supermarkets, all highly chemicalized.

When I was a child and even up to my teens, dessert was served only on Sundays and special occasions. Generally, we didn't eat between meals. A box of store bought cookies or graham crackers lasted some time because we only given two at a time and only one time during the day. As children we had to ask for snacks, not just help ourselves, and most of the time we were told no, to wait for lunch or dinner. We got used to being hungry between meals, particularly the hour just before when we were always told to wait if we asked for a snack. We were told, eating just before dinner would spoil our appetites. Today children, and many adults, eat all day long, drinking sodas, chomping down chips. They are junk food junkies who recoil when offered a piece of fresh fruit. And they are literally junkies, because junk foods contain additives that make the consumer want to eat more.

The writer who blames black women???s obesity on black men must be young indeed. She probably has never tasted an apple so crisp and sweet and juicy that it seemed the most complete and perfect thing in the world. I certainly haven???t been able to find such in the last fifteen years at least, but that???s what most apples were like when I was in grade school. Even the organic apples today don???t begin to approach those that sold for a dollar a peck basket or five or ten cents a pound when I was a child. Poor people could afford fruits and vegetables then. (As they could fish, which was unpolluted , with the cheaper varieties costing as little as fifteen cents a pound - this is the 1950???s, not the turn of the last century!)

Today the typical processed food item has an ingredients list an arm long after the initial rice, wheat or whatever. The main reason that black women are overweight is that they eat too much and too much of the wrong foods. Additives are put in snack and prepared foods to make them addictive, so that people can't eat ???just one.??? So consumers who eat these products find it hard to stop eating them and hard to eat them in moderation. Another crucial reason that black women overeat is that they are overworked and under a great deal of psychic, psychological, and social pressure from being the least esteemed and the most denigrated of all women--???nappy headed ho???s.??? They bear large burdens, so they become large women as a coping device. Rich, high calorie food is eaten to physically and emotionally compensate for long hours, insufficient pay and no respect from the world at large. Addictive processed foods are consumed because they are ubiquitously available, and the consumer has become, as intended, addicted.

What is needed for everyone is a healthy, life-sustaining diet. Then a woman can reach and attain her ideal weight, which may not and need not be thin, but certainly will not be ???thick.???

Sent by Lenora Early | 7:04 PM | 7-17-2007

I am tring to take the chall. but are u offering any help?

Sent by WENDY THOMAS | 5:29 AM | 7-20-2007

Mexican men hate when I lose weight. I am a white female and have always been told to eat eat eat by my novios when I lose weight, and get hit on all the time when I am heavier! (There is also much less ageism in their culture - very nice not to have to be a barbie doll.

Sent by margaux | 1:46 PM | 7-26-2007

the reality is there are a lot of overweight people in america, not just black, and something needs to be done. first of all our lifestyle in america period, always on the go, on the run, trying to do things fast, thus people eating fast food a lot. as far as black people, soul food has a lot to do with it, there is nothing wrong with soul food but it is not healthy. but when you think about it, back in the times of slavery, slaves got to eat things that were left over and that were cheap, if you look at all dishes prepared they are cheap. ex. neck bones, were the bottom of the barrel, parts left over the white people did not want to eat. whiel they might have been eating the good and tender parts of the meat, we were eating neck bones, and thighs chitlins. My mother is african american, and my father is from poland, and i myself have experienced how black men have said things like "i liked you better when you were thicker" but now even that i have managed to loose about twenty pounds, i still would not consider myself healthy and i am not eating healtyh foods. and although there are men who like women who are thicker, plenty of black men like thinner women, and there are plenty of black girls who are natuarlly skinny wiht no but cant gain a pound and black guys still like them. i dont know i guess there are so many ways you can look at this, but for me it goes back to our foods being a cultural thing, passed down from the first africans being in america, making due wiht all they had. it had to do with poverty then, they didnt have shit, and poverty now, people living in bad conditions and in poverty dont really have time, or arent concerned wiht, am i eating healthy? there just trying to make it through another die, trying to feed everybody, no matter what it may be, and be safe.

Sent by Kyndra | 3:41 PM | 8-14-2007

I believe that the reason why obesity, bulimia and anorexia is so big right now is b/c everybody is dying to be a certain way. The media gives off this image that as a black women, you have to be thick or be rail thin. It's crazy and when we all start to realize our inner beauty we are not going to be worried about what others think about us. If you desire to lose weight, lose it b/c you want to, not for anyone else. I am slim but I have curves and I am proud of what God has blessed me with. People are always going to have something to say b/c you no matter what size you are! What makes a women beautiful is the many sizes we all come. Love your body, listen to it or even write a love letter to it. LOVE YOURSELF and your beauty will come from within. God Bless!!!!

Sent by Ms. Honey | 3:19 PM | 8-25-2007

Don't mind me. I'm just another Non-Black woman surfing the net while working the night shift. LOL. I did a "google search" for "muscular women or fat women". So, you can say that I came across this site due to boredom. It seems most men I know who rather have a woman who's not muscular, and rather choose a fat one, instead. By no means am I considered fat or skinny. I consider myself pretty fit with a muscular build. I definitely do not look like a professional body builder, but if someone were to see me, it would be evident that I lift weights. Anyways, I don't think the issue is with race, at all. I think the issue lies with education. Most people aren't "educated" to eat healthy. We live in a world a world of "right now" and all we care about it rush, rush, rush. Most people aren't taught to live a healthy lifestyle. Although most healthy foods can be expensive, most of us do not want to invest time...period! It takes time to cook and it takes time to exercise. It also takes time to shop for the right foods. So, in summary, time is of the essence.

Most people don't want to invest time to do what is right. Most people are so consumed with convenience. I am definitely someone who's all about convenience; however, I'm also all about my health. In no way am I the epitome of health and fitness. But I consider myself as a healthy person. I am trying very hard to maintain a certain level for fitness, and for me is lifting weights and a good amount of cardio.

Also, people also choose to be healthy. We can advocate "healthy" is the way to be, but a person can choose convenience over what is right. Sure, it's more convenient to get McDonald's than to cook your own breakfast and convenience is what most Americans choose.

Education is the key and we have to continue to instill it everyday just like sex education or AIDS awareness...for example.

In regards to cooking, I think this is something we should teach and instill in everybody...even men. I once dated a Black man who surprised me with McDonald's at home for brunch on Valentine's Day. Although the thought was "sweet", it wasn't my definitely my choice in breakfast of champions. LOL.

And if race was an issue, you can say that I have definitely "defied" mine. I'm Asian and definitely don't have a build like your stereotypical Asian, from top to "bottom". LOL.

Sent by Loretta | 5:56 AM | 8-31-2007

Oh, another thing. I would like to also add that our best athletes in today's and yesterday's sports happen to be Black. Baseball, football, basketball, track, tennis, and even golf are ruled and conquered by Black athletes. And these athletes are FAR from being obese. So, if these athletes are able to excel in sports, why are most people using race and social status as an excuse for obesity? Like I mentioned in the previous comment, people have to make choices for themselves. A person needs to feel happy about themselves. If "enjoying" your food is more important eating healthy, than so be it! I suggest that someone should "make up" for what they eat, such as if you want to eat dessert tonight, you better make it up by running 5 miles or doing a killer cardio workout in the morning. Or if you spend your whole week, depriving yourself of your "favorite" foods and busting your butt in the gym, then I think you should have at least have one day to "cheat" on your diet. Trust me, this makes food so much better-tasting and more rewarding because you'll say to yourself, "I worked for this burrito!"

Sent by Loretta | 6:39 AM | 8-31-2007

I can count on one hand the obese women or children I saw when I was growing up in the 1970's.Didn't see to many,becausee had to walk everywhere we went.The foods were healthier to.I grew up in a middle class Black/Latino neighbor.Very few heavy moms or dads for that matter.There were five heavy kids that went to scholl with me,and they got teased with the phrase"fat' in front.I was a skinny kid and came from a small boned family.I was made fun of.Boys would take my wrist and hold it in between their hand to show how skinny I was.Sometime I was offended,most times I wsn't.Most of the giirls I grew up with were full-figured by the time the hit 14,never fat and sloppy.Now when I go home to visit,they are heavy,and I'm just full-figured.Their mothers' were NEVER heavy at the age some of my friends are now.I think it is the food,THE AMERICAN COUNCH POTATOE CULTURE and very sedintary lives.We drive everywhere we go.We don't walk anywhere.Now I look at the young women today...hate to tell ya this its all American women of all races who are heavy or obese at such a young age.This creates serious heatlth issues in the future.Now we have a NATIONAL CRISIS....Our children are the most obes in the world.If the enemy came to this counrty,the kids wouldn't beable to run,they'ed be slaughter where they stood.....This is not a race issue,or black woman issue...THIS IS A NATIONAL PROBLEM in America.

Sent by MiMi A. | 3:03 PM | 9-8-2007

Who started the lie black men prefer large sized women? If you go out to a night spot on the weekend the slimmer women will get most of the attention. Go to nice places and you see the same all the women on dates are slimmer. Big women do not get the same level of respect as slim women bottom line.

Sent by Darryl | 3:52 AM | 3-9-2008

No doubting there are myriads of reasons why black women lean towards obesity. Socioeconomic, cultural, and genetic issues were raised and certainly viable in argument, but let us not forget that despite the difference in race, gender and social class the biggest(no pun intended) reason has to do with the individual.
(1) Piss-poor diet.
(2) Little to no "real" exercise.
The human brain naturally craves foods high in fat and sugars, and it generally comes down to self-control. Soul-food tastes great, unfortunately, alot of ignorant black folks who were raised on "soul food" cannot or will not try other ethnic options that actually may taste good while being healthier for them. It's time to take charge and exhibit more self-control. Who isn't bombarded daily by fast food advertisements? No more excuses. Put that ham-hock down girl and pick up a barbell. If you don't look after yourself, who will?

Sent by Fats all Folks | 12:35 PM | 7-1-2008

You ever done did eat some deep dish pizza?

Sent by Uncle Choz | 12:04 PM | 8-12-2008

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