My Point of View: Black Women, Dating and Why Being Overweight is a Deal Breaker

One of the topics that has come up recently in our BGR! discussions is how black men feel about dating overweight women and the importance of fitness in a relationship. The BGR team feels that black men are pretty supportive of women who workout. However, we think there are a few contradictions. Namely, some guys want a “thick” girl who isn’t too skinny, and other men want a girl with perfect hair. Also, we think that men in general don’t always understand how to support women when they are trying to lose weight or stay in shape. So, in an effort to talk about these issues, I interviewed my friends, Kevin. Here is his take on dating, fitness, and black women.

1.Is it important to you to date someone who is fit and works out? If so, why? Oh to be clear its mandatory. Five reasons: 1. A person who works out is maximizing their physical attractiveness potential. And to be certain I absolutely love attractive women. Love’em. 2. A person who works out all things equal is maximizing their emotional attractiveness potential. And one who feels better about themselves will, on the margins, have a better happier life and a person that’s having a better happier life is a person I want to be around (whether I’m dating them or not). 3. A person who works out all things equal is maximizing their life span. People who are in the gym or active are generally healthier and live longer. If I’m dating you I would certainly like to see you live a nice long healthy life. 4. A person who works out understands me and my lifestyle. I work out 4 days a week roughly 2-3 hours a day. If my significant other works out, she’ll understand and support that commitment and thus we have one less thing to that adds stress to the relationship (that is, she won’t mind that much free time being spent keep myself in shape). 5. Related to 4, I’m active outside of the gym. Literally this week I went skiing for the first time, I have mountain bike, I’m a brown belt in taekwondo, etc. I would like the person I’m dating to participate in activities with me.

2. According to the CDC, approximately 80% of African American women are overweight or obese. In your dating experience, has it been hard to find black women who are in shape? Answer: Unequivocal YES. I usually see one of two types of black women. Those who have great genes and “look like” (at least with clothes on) they work out but don’t. And then those who don’t look like they work out b/c of genes AND they don’t actually see a gym. I’ve lived all over the country and in Spain as well. Been going to gyms everywhere. I very very rarely see sustas in the gym. I live in Downtown Oakland California, and for those that have never been, think a more diverse Detroit. I goto gyms here where it should be full of sustas and I still don’t see them. I also know a lot of black women (friends, ex girlfriends, etc.). My estimate is that no more than 20%, maybe 1 out of 5, work out on some regular basis. I’m more inclined to say 10%, 1 out of 10. So the CDC numbers empirically and observationally appear to match my experience. 3. Chris [my boyfriend] and I talk about the expectations that some women have of men physically – six pack abs, nice biceps, nice chest, etc. As a former college athlete, you have this body. Do you think that men who workout want someone who is as equally in shape? Do you think that it is hypocritical for overweight women to want a fit man? Ha…girl I wish I still had my college athlete body but thanks. ☺ I’m trying to keep up but yes, men that don’t work out generally want a woman that works out as well as those men that do work out. And yes I do think its hypocritical for someone who hasn’t seen the inside of a gym in decades to require their mate to. Here’s the deal, a lot of those women who want that guy that looks like he just stepped out of “Men’s Health Magazine”, will say that men are superficial for wanting the 36-24-36. We all need to recognize we are in moderate to large part affected by what European colonial society has told us is attractive (see hair comments below). Now that being what it is, if you are a rare breed that has been able to totally deny these generational influences, then as my old Australian boss used to say “good on ya”. But for the rest of us, some of those influences exist and have (fortunately or unfortunately) made us who we are in some part so the consequences are what they. 4. Something that the BGR team has discussed is the idea that some guys (especially in the south) like thick women. However, men and women usually have a different definition of thick. So, how do you define thick? Also, is it just a stereotype that black men like curvier women, or do the skinny girls get love too? Interesting…well I live in California but I’m born and raised in Texas. Home of the perennial most obese city in America Houston (when Philly isn’t lol). So we know all about “thick”. So let’s get a couple of things out of the way. First, thick does not mean fat. It means a larger framed, solid fit woman. Also when dudes generally refer to thick, it usually means we like larger chest and larger butt/waist area, but that’s about it. So you’ll rarely find the self-proclaimed connoisseur of the thick girl say they like her stomach to be thick or her ankles to be thick or her neck to be thick. They mean they like (ladies pardon the language) ass and titties….but that’s it. So when I see a babe like that, I’m like “ooooohh, she thick” in a real good way, in fact the best way I can express it. Now, it is true that especially in the South, cats will put up with a little what I call “thick overflow” into a pudgy stomach somewhat or what have you. I think the tolerance goes up if you know that she’s working out and cognizant of the issue (again given that the issue isn’t too much of an issue). One other thing, I don’t have any data on this but my feeling is that cats from the hood that may have never left the hood are generally more forgiving of bigger girls than those that have left the hood (or were never in the hood) and have gone to school. I think its just about exposure more than anything else. Finally, yes on balance, I do believe brothas like a curvier woman than say most other ethnicities save for many Latinos (men). But hell yeah skinny girls get love too if they look good. To be clear, a skinny girl can be nasty flabby just as much as a big girl. I know so many “little skinny” sustas running around here thinking they don’t need to work out b/c they are already size 2 or 4. But when you touch them it doesn’t feel that great because its not an in shape 2 or 4. Me personally I like an in shape size 4-6 or taller size 8 but who’s counting? ☺ 5. One of the things that deters many black women from working out is their hair. It is really hard to keep a straight, fresh out of the salon look if you sweat. How do you feel about the hair issue? Ok I love this one. I always have a standard response to this notion which is asking the following question: “What good is it to have your hair look great when your stomach doesn’t”? I mean lets back up for second. Earlier I spoke of colonialism and facing some realities. Well one other reality is that in about 9 out of 10 topics in life, women have it harder than men. And black women have extra extra harder than men (partly b/c of black men but that’s another blog). That’s a reality. But one important note must be observed right after noting that reality…that note is that: DIFFICULTY DOES NOT NEGATE NEED. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean you can skip it. As the preacher in my church growing in Dallas used to say “its tight but it right”. So while I know its hard work for ladies to look good on any given day let alone when working out frequently is part of the equation, it just has to be done. Ladies please recognize, the guy of your dreams, is very likely the guy of many women’s dreams AND HE KNOWS IT. Competition for the truly great guy is immense and is present everywhere. And I know what you’re saying: “I don’t need to compete for nobody because I’m the bomb, I got my own house, my own car, etc”. Truth is that stuff only matters on the margin. You give a brotha a good looking woman, who is nice, sweet, caring and non-judgmental, that woman is going to win 9 times out 10. That good looking piece is body AND hair, not just hair. To again quote Pastor Davis, “its tight but its right”. A final note on reality. Its unfair. Black men (most but not all) want that black woman with “good hair” so to speak but without weave. Meanwhile, black women on the whole have never demanded black men have that white male free flowing run your fingers through it hair…we can just do what we want and black women will find a way to find it attractive. That’s b/c black women are the shit. Black women have largely carried this race in this country while brothas were acting a fool. Even Dr MLK had some chics on the side. But again the reality is the reality. And if you want to attract a man, or a consumer, or a shopper, or whatever, you don’t put out there what you necessarily want, you put out there what your target wants so that your product is chosen. Ladies you are the product and you are your own brand. Manufacture and market yourself to win. That means body and hair.



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