Monday, January 08, 2007

Black Folks And Weight Loss

I don’t know what it is about trying to lose weight in a black family but it is far from easy to do. I wont say all, because I have a bunch of girlfriends who’s families constantly pressure them to slim down, but for a lot of us changing the way you live isn’t the biggest hurdle its overcoming the influence of your family.

I had an incident this weekend where I immediately became the “diet villain” when I had a hypoglycemic attack. I am hypoglycemic, so I am well aware that I need to eat with more frequency than the average person, but this time it wasn’t my fault. This time I was attempting to help someone put together a massive Sleep Number bed and had mentioned not once but twice that it was time for me to stop and get something to eat. I was ignored. They just kept right on working while I became increasingly sick. I finally just deserted them and went downstairs for some juice (against my damn diet plan) and a glucose tablet. Suddenly I am a jackass for letting it get that far.

Granted I could have left them when I first mentioned I was hungry and fading, but I figured that since they all harp on me about eating constantly, they would understand that I wasn’t just being greedy and I needed to eat. Nope, no one got it. So while I am sitting at the foot of the stairs, sweating profusely and feeling dizzy, I hear them (them being my mother, my father and “the boyfriend”) talking about how irresponsible I am about my own health.

Now for my mother this has everything to do with what this diet allows you to eat. She basically doesn’t believe in this whole cutting out carbs bit, so to her my diet is just stupid and dangerous. Granted, it might be both of those things if I didn’t eat other things to keep me energetic and full, but to say its cause I am not eating carbs is just crazy.

For “the boyfriend” its about losing my figure. The figure I cant stand mind you. The one where I huff and puff and squeeze myself into jeans that should fit, or skirts that used to fit. Everyone knows that black men like curves, and I am not talking about doing away with my curves, but basically so what if want to lose weight? I don’t like being thick and uncomfortable if I can be thin and happy. I know this sounds rude but really, its not about him or his preference about my body.

When we met I was a 4 and he was liking it just fine, now suddenly I am not right unless I am a damn 12? Get the fuck outta here with that. Seems like he can go to the gym every night and beat himself into a new size but if I do it I am suddenly Nicole Ritchie and attempting to starve myself. The thing that really upsets me about that is that at some point thick becomes fat, and the whole conversation might turn into how I have managed to let myself go which I have heard men say about women numerous times.

So I was then forced and by forced I mean brow beaten into eating a bowl of beans and rice, also not on the aforementioned diet plan which made me angrier than I have been in a long ass time since what I asked for was an apple and some of the left over chicken in the fridge to get my blood sugar level elevated. Then I was made to feel like a jackass again for not promising to quit the diet altogether.

This my friends is no isolated incident. Every attempt I have ever made to lose weight has been met with distain and ridicule. I have been chastised for not putting sour cream on a potato. I have been yelled at for not wanting fried chicken in favor of baked, I have gotten rolling eyes and shaking heads when I say I am going to go run. I have even been given excuses why I shouldn’t exercise and trust me they are all stupid and just plain crazy so I won’t mention what was said about it. I have also had immediate family tell me that I am “not supposed to look like that anyway” that I guess being thin.

This isn’t just my mother, this is aunts and uncles and grandmothers and family friends who all think the minute you embark on a diet you are turning your back on your blackness. Suddenly being curvy isn’t good enough, or you are making some sort of statement about their health. I am doing neither, I just want to be happy in my clothing.

My mother constantly complains about her size, yet she isn’t going to do a damn thing to change it. She wont change her diet, she wont work out and she just expects it to magically fall off. When I take a proactive approach however, I am being stupid or irresponsible.

Its not just me either, one of my best girlfriends catches shit every time she gets back on the wagon, yet they have no problem patting her on the hips and asking what she has been eating. Another friend has a totally unsupportive husband who actually mocks and belittles her diet, even doing things such as bringing fatty foods home to eat in her face. I am sure they have all been told how dumb they are too. I just wish folks understood that wanting to look good isn’t stupid and having the guts to do something about it is far from irresponsible. I don’t know why dieting is such an affront to your family members if you are black?

So for all parties involved (who don’t read this damn thing anyway since it also falls under the stupid and crazy catagory) and who think that its stupid for me to want to lose weight or I don’t know how to help myself. I want you to know that I am just fine and I am going to continue my diet. I have managed to live on this earth for 30 years without doing myself any real harm and I will continue to live the way I see fit. I don’t need any of your nagging, neck wagging, eye rolling or snide comments thank you, and I don’t give a flying fuck why you think its important to chastise me about it. Worry about your own damn lives and let me live mine and stop trying to screw with my happiness. I was black before I started this diet, and I will still be black long after, and its time for you all to grow up. Go listen to Fiona Apple’s song Extraordinary Machine, and maybe you will figure out that I am not quite as helpless as you all wish I was.

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