By: Shana Adams (@bbgtonline)
Two young black men are at a nightclub. They're in VIP, chillin', poppin' bottles and generally having a good night. Suddenly, a group of women sashay in, stealing their attention. These women got it going on. Clothes? Latest. Hair? Laid. Outfit? Slayed. Booty(s)? Uhhmazing. Actually, their bodies were the first thing that they noticed. 40-32-46. They hit the jackpot, and tonight, they were ready to play their hand for the ladies that had just waltzed in.
I've seen this play out plenty of times in the bar scene. In my role as "funny fat girl", I was an integral part of the mating ritual between the "thick" chicks and dudes with "swag". I think back on these episodes in the story of my life and I contemplate something: Where is the line between thick and fat? At what point does thick transition into fat? How would this play out if these young black men were white? 40-32-46 is definitely not the "ideal" size for the "average" woman, so in essence, isn't this fat? I wanted to touch on how I think each race views body image.
Big boned, thick, meat on her bones, etc. This is how we describe women in our race who are heavyset. We use verbiage that eases the blow. In my opinion, it makes it ok to be overweight. I have friends who use these adjectives to describe themselves and truth be told, they are overweight/obese. It's ok. The first step is admitting it. I came to terms a loonnnnng time ago. It was easier for me to admit this because I definitely don't have the shape of a typical Black woman. I think Black men overlook overweight/obesity for two reasons. Their mothers are probably big women. Did I step on toes? The truth hurts I know, but numbers don't lie. According to a 2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four out of five Black women are overweight or obese. Odds are, overweight women are appealing to Black men because that's what they've grown up seeing. Now that's out of the way, the second reason is because of curves, breasts and booty. As I've mentioned before, I'm not shaped like a Coke bottle. I would say I'm an apple. I'm busty, have a flat butt, and a stomach that won't go away. Maybe my fatness would have been forgiven had I had a more voluptuous shape or was proportioned better?
If you can make the case that Black people are accepting of a full figure, White people are the total opposite. In college, there was a young white lady that I was pretty cool with. I'll call her S. S and I had several classes together and over the years we have kept in touch. I remember us talking about some frat guy that she found attractive. S wanted to talk to him and tried to muster up the courage to do so but she had overheard him telling someone else that he wasn't interested in any woman that was in the double digits in pant size. At the time, S was a size 12. I was floored. In my eyes she was perfectly fine. Here I was a size 22 and I would have done anything to fit into a 12! If she had been interested in Black men, she would have NO problem. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from the outside looking in, weight in the White community is seen as a bad thing. I have noticed a trend with using the term "curvy" in a positive way. But generally speaking, White women aim to be smaller. I remember a few years back how people were going in on Adele because she's overweight. I've met White woman who look fine to me size 10, 12, 14 but they're unhappy. In my opinion, if you're not slim, you are not attractive to White men. I'm not saying there aren't White men that like a shapely woman but they are few and far between.
I would say people in the Hispanic community mirror a similar attitude as the black community. How many times have you seen commercials advertising the Brazilian butt lift or Sophia Vergara seen as a sex symbol? Jennifer Lopez is another woman who comes to mind when I think of how the Hispanic
community see body image. I do see a trend that their view is becoming more Americanized, aligning with White Americans. I can't speak on it any further because I'm not knowledgeable and haven't had much interaction with people in this community. What do you think?
If people in the Hispanic community are skewed closer to views of the black community, I believe the Asian community is closer to white culture. In my opinion, Asian's are genetically small people. They are usually short stature and petite so it's easier to identify with the white community. In general terms, I don't think Asian men are attracted to women who are curvier because like Black men, that is how their mothers look. If you're honest with yourself, besides a Sumo wrestler, how many obese people of Asian descent have you seen? Like the Hispanic community, I won't speak any further because I'm not knowledgeable and haven't had much interaction with people in this community. Thoughts?
I don't think any of these views on thick vs fat are right. All I'm saying is the way each culture sees it and deals with body image varies. I'm a member of the Black community so my view is skewed that way. I accept myself for who I am. I know I will never be in the single digits with my pant size, but I'm ok with that. I don't aspire to be either. I think it's healthy to be confident in who you are but, being thick and being fat are two different things to me. I've heard Black women refer to themselves as thick when they're actually fat, rotund, obese, whatever. Call it what it is. I don't think it's healthy to soften the term or sugarcoat the fact that you need to get healthy. I advocate healthy living over being a stick figure any day. Healthy living does require honesty and if you're honestly happy with your body image, do your thing. I went on a fitness journey because I was concerned with my health. Unfortunately, health issues for Black women are mostly weight related. You can identify or typify yourself any way you like. It's your prerogative. But for Black women, to ignore the health related issues related to being overweight because of excessive sugarcoating is irresponsible.
Shana is a 25 year old communications professional who took her health into her own hands and started her weight loss journey mid 2010, but really took charge when she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2012. She will be launching her health and fitness blog Big Boned Gets Toned! on May 6, 2014. You can view her Big Boned Gets Toned! weight loss vlog on youtube http://ow.ly/vbvYs
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