In a New York Times Opinion piece titled, “Black Women and Fat,” Vanderbilt University writer in residence Alice Randall offered her thoughts on black women’s relationship with their curves, saying that for many, being voluptuous is a political statement and deliberate choice. She says, “…[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.”
The writer goes on to wax nostalgic for days growing up when she yearned to have thick thighs like her dance teacher, Diane. She writes that even now, her lawyer husband worries when she starts to lose weight, and that her friend’s hubby, “begged her not to lose “the sugar down below” when she embarked on a weight-loss program.”
Though she hypothesizes that some women once gained weight as a political statement, cultivating a curvaceous body to counter the silhouette of a fit slave, she also writes that the current rates of obesity are untenable. She finishes her piece saying, “WE have to change. Black women especially. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, blacks have 51 percent higher obesity rates than whites do. We’ve got to do better.”
Though the article ends with Randall detailing her exercise regimen and healthy diet recipe, her initial statement brings up an interesting question: Are four out of five black women seriously overweight (as detailed in the article) because they want to be? I’d say it’s actually a complicated cocktail of lack of knowledge/access to healthy food and exercise, cultural acceptance of curves, and hair–can’t mess up a fresh press.
What do you think?
Read Alice’s full article here.
Read what Demetria Lucas over at Essence.com had to say about the article here.