Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Why weight is NOT, in fact, a Race issue.
There are so very many reasons why I am tired tired tired of body commentary in the blogosphere. It is mainly because while I am plus sized girl – the last time I was a size twelve, I WAS twelve – there is more to me than my size and how I feel about it. In fact the only time I am reminded of it is when other people point it out (rude and their own issue) or I feel unhealthy. When this happens I generally address it by changing my eating habits, starting to walk and swim more or enter into an exercise or counseling program. Just like people who are not plus sized. This creates me as normal.
Opinions and articles out there range from what is wrong with us at a given size, to how a woman feels about being a given size, to the politics of being a given size, to why it is okay to be a given size. I mostly agree with the latter (as long as one is healthy, size does not matter). There is another category and I never quite know what to say or how to feel about it. I am not sure I get to weigh in on this one because I am white, but I certainly have some thoughts on it. So if I offend you with this, so be it.
May 6th, 2012 the New York Times Op Ed section ran an article called Black Women and Fat by Alice Randall, who I normally like. In it, she remarks that Black women are fat because their men want them that way (um. What?) and therefore they want to be fat (um. What?!!?). She cites historic references to poetry remarking on the beauty of big-hipped black woman. I got no problem with the poetry. I got a problem with Alice Randall’s interpretation of it. She interprets the poetry as further evidence of A.E. Shaw’s book “The Embodiment of Disobedience: Fat Black Women’s Unruly Political Bodies.” Shaw argues it this way: “Fat black woman can be a rounded opposite of the fit black slave,” and thus creates a remark on the prosperity of the Fatter Woman, much like Samoa. The heavier you are, the richer you are (less work).
She also goes on to encourage her community of women to get fit, although the terminology she uses is to “get smaller.” I am a fan of the fit, not the smaller because genetics are not even mentioned, nor is a person’s natural size.
First, I think having an opinion is a good thing. Second, I don’t think extrapolating size to an entire culture is. Third, making excuses based on race is never a good idea, and finally my feminism is outraged at the idea that I become fat and unhealthy in order to keep a man. What a crock of shit! That asks an entire race to collude in its own oppression because of sexism. And that if you are a skinny black woman you are somehow not black enough (as written about by xojane). Bringing me to the idea that weight is a race issue. Um. No.
Curvy CEO says she is tired of the “what is wrong with Blackwomen” meme. I agree. I am also tired of the “what is wrong with fat women” meme. Exercise is a luxury for many women in that no one has time. It is also expensive, except for walking and running. (And I don’t run. Ever.) If there are kids in the picture, their needs come first, and for many women, regardless of race, this is a truth. To be chastised for not caring about themselves enough is just insult to injury.
Body size is an ongoing issue in that social comparison is an ongoing issue. It isn’t about race, or men, or women. I have reached an age where, when I see a lovely woman, or a good-looking man, I simply tell them. It doesn’t take anything away from me to give a compliment. My success is not dependent on someone else’s failure. So, lets stop. Lets stop with the “this is whys” and the “here is how I fixed myself” and the race politics of image.
Image matters. Image matters in that when we feel good we look good. Enough with the size justifications and apologies. Enough I say.