For some Black women, carrying a few extra pounds or defining themselves as a “BBW”, which is an acronym that stands for “Big, Beautiful, Woman”, is a normal part of black womanhood. In fact, many Black women see nothing wrong with being overweight and feel that the extra body fat is attractive to Black men – even proclaiming that Black men prefer women with a little meat on their bones over slender to average sized women.
So, are Black women sacrificing their health and well-being for the sake of Black men – the very Black men who sit around the barber shop and fawn over “fly honeys?” Unfortunately, and sadly the answer to this question is, yes. Fly honeys are the slim, sexy BET video model types that many Black men ultimately prefer. It is not uncommon to hear Black women boast about receiving more attention and acceptance from Black men due to their “thick” or “phat” physique. But, many Black women have tragically confused “phat” with fat, failing to recognize that there is no difference. Phat is fat, and a woman who allows herself to dwell in a state of sickliness to please her man is foolish, to say the least. There is a society of Black women who seemingly have been brainwashed by Black men – either consciously or unconsciously to believe that a few extra pounds will lead to a stronger and more stable relationship. This mentality has led to an alarming number of Black women who are well over their body mass indices and suffering from weight-related health conditions as a result.
About 78 percent of adult Black women in the United States are overweight, while about 51 percent are obese according to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control. A woman is considered overweight if she has a body mass index or (BMI) of 25 or more. In other words, a woman who is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds is overweight, technically. I have seen scores of Black women in the mall or grocery store wearing jeans or spandex tight enough to cut off their circulation, yet proudly strut their stuff as if to say “hey, I know I look good” despite the rolls of fat and dimples bulging from their clothing. Too often, overweight women are completely oblivious to the health risks which accompany poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle.
Obesity is more likely to cause coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and various types of cancers. In fact, new findings suggest that Black women are more prone to developing chronic health conditions resulting from obesity due to their genetic predisposition. Researchers in a University of Pennsylvania Medical Center study found that Black women have a slower metabolism due their genetic makeup and tend to burn fewer calories per day than women of other races. Generally, this may explain why Black women are naturally heavier than White women, even those who follow a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
While an overwhelming number of Black women defiantly ignore their weight, similarly 71 percent of Black men are considered overweight – only a slight contrast from the number of Black women who are overweight. The reasons for the disparity could mean that Black men have greater opportunities to incorporate physical activity into their lifestyles, as Black women are often head of households with longer work days, and whose responsibilities include preparing dinner and getting children to bed. At the end of the day, this all equates to very little to no time for a workout at the gym. A lack of childcare and living in communities which are not conducive to walking or jogging are also reasons to forgo exercise.
Black women are accustomed to working harder than everyone else to achieve their goals, and maintaining a healthy weight is yet another challenge. Genetics or cultural mores do not have to dictate circumstances or become the status quo. Learning the art of healthy eating and portion control in addition to sweating it out at the gym are key factors to losing weight and keeping it off. Soul food, and McDonalds fries are delicious; however, Black women cannot afford to continue their love affair with fast and unhealthy foods. Instead of pulling into the drive thru to order that artery clogging quickie meal – stay at home and try a fresh garden salad with a zesty vinaigrette and grilled chicken breast to go along. This entire meal only takes about 20 minutes to prepare. Finally, staying away from soft drinks, starches, fried and processed foods are essential to augmenting a healthy lifestyle and fending off life-threatening diseases, which in turn can add years to one’s lifespan.
Eating to live, not living to eat should be the rule and not the exception for every Black woman.