Black women are promoting obesity with their big booties

But it’s the reporter who’s the biggest ass. The tagline of the article hints at things to come: “Many blacks love big women, but having a rump the size of Buffie the Body’s can put women at risk for disease.” And it only gets better:

Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder and need not justify itself. I love (non-steroidal) body builders’ physiques and, pre-kids, I was that hardcore gym rat haranguing co-workers over the contents of their lunch sacks. My own mother found my buff body distasteful, though it would have taken Gitmo to make her admit it (my family deputized a representative to ask me if I was gay). So, my issue is not with a butt fetish per se. Fetishizing large rumps (though “large” doesn’t tell you the half of it without the pix) is, of course, no better or worse than fetishizing plastic blimp-breasts, except that the latter could be considered safer. Their supply can be halted, surgeons are regulated, patients are monitored and, of course, the bearers themselves can have the implants removed. But the best way to get a gargantuan ass of urban-lad-mag size is to be obese; this is also the path to ill health and early death for black women, as Buffie’s lifestyle amply demonstrates.

Yes, you read that right: It is healthier to undergo surgery where a doctor slices your breasts open and stuffs two saline-filled baggies into your chest than it is to have a naturally big ass.

Recent press reports show why black women should be alarmed: More than half of us are obese — 78 percent are considered overweight. And, according to the American Obesity Association, the pounds are not coming off easily, due to “cultural factors related to diet, exercise and weight among African-Americans.” The Centers for Disease Control finds that rates of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death are higher among black women, and when we get these diseases, we’re sicker than white women. But here’s the kicker: Womenshealth.gov reports that “compared with overweight white Americans, overweight black Americans are two to three times more likely to say their weight is average — even after they’ve been told they are overweight or obese by a doctor (emphasis added). It’s one thing not to “see” that you need to lose weight. It’s quite another to reject that knowledge from the medical professional you sought out.

She’s right that we should be alarmed about disproportionate obesity rates in certain communities — but instead of examining the complex causes of obesity rates, she defaults to victim-blaming. Women of color are more likely to be poor than white women. They are less likely to have adequate health care access. When you’re poor, you’re going to buy food that you can afford, and things like fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish aren’t exactly cheap — or even available in many communities. If most of your shopping is done at the corner bodega, you’re not going to be walking out with a nice salmon fillet for dinner — you’re going to get the frozen fish sticks. If you have $20 to spend on food for your family, you’re going to buy the 10-for-$1 Top Ramen, not the $1.50-each organic apples. Government subsidies make high-fructose corn syrup incredibly cheap, further compromising the healthiness of processed food. Healthy, high-quality food is pricey, and out of reach for many people. Not to mention the fact that busy parents who work all day don’t have time to prepare complicated, health-centered meals. Plus there’s the fact that exercise is expensive — gyms cost money, athletic shoes and gear cost money, sports teams cost money, and on and on.

But instead of dealing with the hard issues — poverty, lack of health care access — the author would rather just fat-shame, and encourage men to reject fat women:

To the degree that this black fat preference is simply a determination to pooh-pooh anything “white,” blacks need to grow up. If it’s simply ignorance, well, now we know and when you know better you’re supposed to do better. Sorry, brothers, but just as I learned to reject “hard bodies” that are the result of steroids, y’all need to reject “lard bodies” that are, at least in part, the result of slow suicide to please you. Just as other cultures have had to discourage certain customs — bound feet, corsets and hoop skirts — blacks have to learn to see a seriously overweight sister not just as freewheeling and “down” enough to enjoy her fried pork chops but as a woman who might be putting her health at risk. Sisters, there ain’t nobody to blame but yourself when you Southern fry yourself, complete with coveted ass, into Forest Lawn while your kids are still in elementary school. MeMe Roth’s anti-obesity campaign may be seriously askew, but so is sacrificing your health to blimp yourself into a Buffie.

We’ll conveniently ignore the fact that men are more likely to be obese than women. They’re dudes, though, and we’re talking about self-involved bitches who will (and should) change their bodies to suit the preferences of men.

via The Curvature.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Body image, Fat, Gender, Race & Ethnicity and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Black women are promoting obesity with their big booties

  1. in2mi says:

    I love when white liberals would rather ‘blame the system’ than recognize the value of people taking accountability for their lives. Blacks have higher levels of chronic illness that is due largely due to health and lifestyle issues. Given that reality, what is wrong with a Black woman telling other Black women to take responsivbility for our health? While you are sitting around blogging for the revolution, I am glad that there are people speaking truth into people’s lives and hopefully motivating them to change their lives.

  2. EG says:

    I was that hardcore gym rat haranguing co-workers over the contents of their lunch sacks.

    So, basically, this reporter has always been an obnoxious interfering busybody who thinks she has the right to police the eating habits of others? Charming. I bet she was real popular.

    It’s also worth mentioning that last I checked, health risks were far more likely to be associated with significant weight gain around the waist not around the hips, ass, or thighs.

  3. evil fizz says:

    I am glad that there are people speaking truth into people’s lives and hopefully motivating them to change their lives.

    I’m not really reading this article as speaking the truth or motivating people to change. That would involve either showing some degree of compassion or a lack of alarmism.

  4. Antigone says:

    You know what I’m curious about? If these doctors are in fact, wrong.

    What gets called “obsese” I’ve seen from a lot of doctors is in fact normal for a particular body type. I am “obsese” according to my doctors, but guess what? I have perfect cholosteral, lower than average blood pressure, and am otherwise in perfect health. So I’m thinking that this thing against “obesity” is coorelative, and not causal.
    I’m also strongly begining to suspect that those weight and height charts are medical hooey.

    Also, the AOS is a total sham: I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them.

  5. Nenena says:

    I have a friend who’s studying to become a plastic surgeon. He told me that breast implants can *kill* a woman if they burst while inside her. Now, he wants to work in reconstructive surgery, not boob jobs and the like, so maybe he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But is that true? If it’s true, that sounds a LOT riskier to me than simply having a large butt.

    Fake breasts safer than big butts… What?

  6. prairielily says:

    Except that Buffie DOESN’T have a naturally big ass. I read that Voice article, which is here,where she said that she used to be 120 lbs, but that black women don’t like to be skinny. So she started drinking energy shakes to plump up her ass. She also said that she never exercises, and doesn’t consume anything except Southern fried pork and Koolaid.

    Naturally big ass? Perfectly fine with me. Big ass due to INCREDIBLY unhealthy eating habits? A little terrifying. Couldn’t they find a black woman with a big ass who eats her veggies sometimes?

    I know that there are complex reasons why the poor can’t get their hands on healthy foods, but if there is a mentality that black women MUST have a big ass, NO MATTER WHAT, (and I know from my black friends that it is an incredibly pervasive idea) then it does have an effect on the community.

    Honestly, I don’t agree with much else in the article, but I can’t bring myself to say that I’m completely down with the love for black asses when I know that black women feel so insecure and self-conscious when their asses don’t measure up. I want big asses to be ok, but also small asses, and big breasts, and small breasts, etc. etc. I don’t want anyone to feel like their features don’t measure up to their culture’s beauty standards, because that’s not cool when it happens to anyone.

    And to be clear, none of this is Buffie’s fault. She’s just as much a victim of beauty standards as the rest of us, and it annoys me that it seems like female celebrities have to “set a better example” than male celebrities. But she seems like a nice enough person, so I really hope that she’s exaggerating about never eating anything healthy.

  7. Sniper says:

    I love when white liberals would rather ‘blame the system’ than recognize the value of people taking accountability for their lives.

    I love it when conservatives ignore the realities of racism and poverty when it doesn’t fit in with their own fairy-tale vision of American life.

    I can, if you like, send you alinks tof 20 peer-reviewed articles that show a clear link between race, poverty, and poor health. Or you can continue building castles in the air.

  8. Interrobang says:

    Has that writer even seen Buffie the Body, and/or checked out her measurements? Large butt or not, Buffie has this incredibly tiny waist and doesn’t look at all like she’s been “digging her grave with a knife and fork,” as we’d say in the pungent idiom of my misspent yout’. (I’m afraid that if that idiot looked at my rump, she’d probably conclude I was overweight, too, which I’m not, but I did ride horses for 20 years…)

  9. evil fizz says:

    So she started drinking energy shakes to plump up her ass.

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that it was impossible to decide where to gain weight. It’s not as though she can choose to gain weight in her backside rather than, say, around her stomach.

  10. Sally says:

    So Buffie eats crap and doesn’t exercise, in order to get a socially-acceptable body. And the author of the piece uses this to argue that the community should pick a slightly different body standard and work even harder to enforce that? Wouldn’t it be better to encourage people to exercise and not eat crap, rather than enforcing any particular body standard?

  11. Nanette says:

    I’m sorry but I think this woman’s (Buffie’s) entire story is part of the performance. Including the eating nothing but junk food and energy shakes and never exercising bit. Why the performance, I don’t know. Though I can guess.

    There are definitely issues among Black women (and men) related to unhealthy fat and related health problems, but I don’t believe Buffie is at all the poster child for that, as the article writer would have realized were she not so anxious to, apparently, show up Meme Roth.

    For one thing, she’s not fat. I looked at the pictures here. She’s pretty well toned everywhere, and I imagine would have to be in fairly good shape anyway as she is a dancer as well as a model, no?

    And while there are Black women with the high, tight and rounded butt body type, if you are not one of them buttocks do not all of a sudden just pop out like a shelf once you put on a little weight, no matter how many energy drinks you drink… unless you are also doing some serious and targeted exercising and training, (if even that works). As far as I know. At least, I’ve never seen it happen.

    The article writer might also remember boobs are not the only place people get implants.

  12. Nanette says:

    Oh jeeze, I figured I’d go find out who wrote the article instead of just calling her “the article writer” and I see it’s Debra Dickerson.

    Hah!

    ‘Nuff said.

  13. jeffaclitus says:

    Yeah, I agree with Nanette, her arms and calves are much too toned to believe that she doesn’t exercise. Though I’m not sure why she would want people to believe that.

  14. hipparchia says:

    … I think this woman’s (Buffie’s) entire story is part of the performance. Including the eating nothing but junk food and energy shakes and never exercising bit. Why the performance, I don’t know. Though I can guess.

    The article writer might also remember boobs are not the only place people get implants.

    Prety much what I thought, too.

  15. Tricia says:

    I know that there are complex reasons why the poor can’t get their hands on healthy foods, but if there is a mentality that black women MUST have a big ass, NO MATTER WHAT, (and I know from my black friends that it is an incredibly pervasive idea) then it does have an effect on the community.

    I’m sorry. I didn’t know your black friends spoke for the entire black community and made you an expert on black culture.

    Similarly, the fact that there are socioeconomic reasons resulting in different body types for different racial groups is exactly the reason that preference for those body types emerge — if poor communities of color aren’t filled with skinny or lanky figures, then those communities will stop preferring them. You are attracted to what you are surrounded by. It’s part of the same socialization that causes many lgbt individuals to deny their true feelings and to attempt to live heterosexual lives. It’s what we are socialized to do.

  16. kactus says:

    First off, I’m skeptical about how much of that Voice article is just sensationalism. Yeah right, Buffy eats nothing but fried chicken? Not even some cornbread and pork rinds to go with that? Sounds a whole lot like stereotyping to me.

    Second, I’m getting leery of the argument that poor people=no access to healthy food=unhealthy fat poor people. It is true that when you are poor it can be very difficult to get to or afford so-called health food, but being fat doesn’t automatically equal being unhealthy. And not all poor people are only eating the crap you find at the corner store, either.

    I’m not trying to minimize that poverty can be devastating to your health, but I think we should be careful when we begin to make convenient generalizations about what poor people eat, or why. And I think we should be extra careful when we begin to assume that the size of a poor person’s body says anything about the state of her health.

  17. kactus says:

    And with that, I don’t mean to comment & run, but I’m going to bed.

  18. prairielily says:

    I’m sorry but I think this woman’s (Buffie’s) entire story is part of the performance. Including the eating nothing but junk food and energy shakes and never exercising bit. Why the performance, I don’t know.

    Nanette, I think (or at least hope) that a lot of it is performance too. I can actually understand some of the energy shake leading to a bigger ass thing – some women just put on weight in their hips first, and maybe she’s one of those people and she knew that. (Isn’t that why women have curvy asses in the first place?) But I’m extremely concerned that the performance needs to exist at all.

    All I want is to see a happy middle. A woman who is comfortable with her body, and who takes care of her health. Is that really so much to ask? Do we need to go from skinny starlets who are starving themselves to women who proclaim that they never exercise and eat the worst possible foods? I mean, I saw Queen Latifah on The Daily Show a while back, and she is so gorgeous, and she told Jon Stewart that she eats turkey bacon. Can’t we have more of that? (Not that there’s anything really wrong with eating real bacon. I just think it’s gross.) Why are we so focused on extremes when most of us exist in the middle?

  19. Minna says:

    Still healthier to be overweight than underweight.

    And when I read that black

    overweight black Americans are two to three times more likely to say their weight is average — even after they’ve been told they are overweight or obese by a doctor

    So, am I the only person who saw that and thought, “Good on them for not blindly believing someone who’s going by BMI rather than body type”? >_>; But the number of times my ma copped “you’re overweight! slim down!” when she couldn’t get any smaller without shooting her immune system makes me bitter.

  20. libber says:

    nanette, yeah Buffie is big but clearly not obese. i doubt she’s unhealthy (unless she’s taking hormones). but there is clearly an obesity problem in certain poor communities. obviously poor people don’t have the money to buy healthy food — jill is right, it’s damn expensive. only rich people (or people who have the whole day to buy at the right places and cook for hours) can afford it.

  21. karpad says:

    I also seem to recall a VERY well backed study that said that the “overweight” tagged group have the longest life expectancy and lower risk for all kinds of diseases, from cancer to heart disease. which seemed to suggest that “overweight” was a cosmetic description, and not a a label based on any genuine health concerns.

    I am kind of amused at how loud and shrill the “PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FATASS YOU WILL DIE DIE DIE” sirens get when you point out, as the basic concept behind this article does, that you don’t have to be a wafer thin bulemic to be attractive.

  22. norbizness says:

    Actually, all that needs to be said was said by Nanette at #12. Debra Dickerson is following the Camille Paglia model of contrarian Salon “success.”

  23. unrelatedwaffle says:

    I love when white liberals would rather ‘blame the system’ than recognize the value of people taking accountability for their lives.

    And I love when people criticize liberals for taking a holistic view of reality that includes both personal responsibility and the larger social structure.

    Sociology is hard and it makes my head hurt, so let’s pretend it doesn’t exist!

  24. Frumious B says:

    Someone with bulemia will not necessarily be wafer thin, and someone who is wafer thin will not necessarily be bulemic. Just once, just for novelty, I’d like to see a discussion about body image, weight, and health that does not descend into vicious attacks on skinny people.

  25. in2mi says:

    Actually Sniper, I’m not a conservative, but thanks for the assumption.

    And yes, I know that there is a connection between race, poverty and obesity. I worked with a professor in grad school about that very issue. BUT, in addition to looking at larger social structures like lack of grocery stores in inner-city areas, she also had a project that looked at ways to teach low-income women to make better food choices with the options that they had.

    All that I am saying is that the argument should not stop with only addressing the systemic barriers to people living healthier lives, but should also look at ways to encourage women to live healthier lives. I feel that often liberal/progressive people (of which, surprise I am one), particularly white ones (of which I am not) begin in and end with systemic arguments and don’t look at ways to empower people to take some level of responsibility for their lives and ther health even in the midst of struggle.

  26. mythago says:

    Anybody else think this article sounds like the whiny chick on the intro to “Baby Got Back”?

    in2mi, in what way do you think scolding black women (and, indirectly, black men) for admiring booty “empowers” them? This isn’t an article talking about healthy eating choices; it’s about being fat, and the assumption that obesity is a result of black women foolishly chowing down on pork chops to get attractively-large asses.

  27. antiprincess says:

    Just once, just for novelty, I’d like to see a discussion about body image, weight, and health that does not descend into vicious attacks on skinny people.

    or any people, maybe.

  28. Hector B. says:

    “Baby Got Back”

    I remember watching the video, wondering why all the women dancers’ butts were so small. No woman with anything like Buffie’s generous derriere appeared on the screen.

  29. Tek says:

    The reduction of black women to just an ass. hm. “TSK,TSK little black children, don’t you know what you’re doing to yourselves” is condescending no matter who it comes from and twice so coming from the holier than thou writer.

  30. in2mi says:

    You are right, the article is not about healthy eating and I did go off on a tangent about that.

    But, the article is attacking the common perception in the Black community that a big woman is the best thing in the world. Look, I am glad that larger women are considered beautiful in my community. As a larger Black woman, I appreciate that my size doesn’t determine my worth or beauty. But, what I am not happy about is when I hear a woman say, “My man likes a little meat on his bones” and she can’t walk up a flight of stairs without losing her breath or she has diabetes. So no, I don’t see a problem with what Debra Dickerson is trying to say if it helps to shift perceptions and get Black women to be more conscious of their weight for their own health and well-being.

  31. mythago says:

    I do see a problem with Dickerson focusing on body size rather than health.

  32. Dr. Confused says:

    Maybe black women are just more likely to understand the definition of the word average?

    If 78% are overweight according to BMI charts, I would assume the average is also overweight.

  33. Djinna says:

    Dr. Confused, I wanted to make the exact same point.

  34. pearlandopal says:

    in2mi, the problem with that is that there’s really no evidence that being overweight is particularly bad for “their own health and well-being.” In fact, I can’t seem to find a link at the moment, but a reputable study has found that overweight people actually have a longer life expectancy. This article on health risk factors is also good reading if you’re worried about the health of overweight people.

  35. prairielily says:

    I’m sorry. I didn’t know your black friends spoke for the entire black community and made you an expert on black culture.

    I’m not an expert on black culture. Should I ignore that in my personal observations, many black women wish that their asses were bigger? Even when said women live thousands of kilometres apart and don’t know each other? It must have come from somewhere. Maybe you have the answer?

    It’s my personal belief that society focuses on large breasts and asses along with a tiny waist because the proportions are so unattainable. Does suggesting that make me an expert on culture in general?

  36. W. Kiernan says:

    Considered overweight by whom? I’m really not trying to hand-wave the medical problem of obesity out of existence, but when I read that more than half of black women are “obese,” and I think about the black women I see out in public, I really have to wonder how that word is being defined and by whom. I mean, I’m really calling shenanigans on that “more than half” and “78 percent” business.

    And if you really cared about obesity as a social problem, you might want to not define it as “less slender than Kate Moss.” When you criticize people – and I know they’re just being objective and all, but everybody takes it as an insiult when you tell them, “yo, you’re, like, way fat!” – for failing to have a physique like athletes and movie stars have got, then you’ve got to expect them to blow your advice off completely.

  37. DM says:

    “The Centers for Disease Control finds that rates of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death are higher among black women, and when we get these diseases, we’re sicker than white women.”

    And I’m sure the stress and other such consequences stemming from one existing perpetually at the bottom of the social ladder racially, sexually, and financially have nothing to do with it.

    “But the best way to get a gargantuan ass of urban-lad-mag size is to be obese”

    Or you can get it from your mother, which every woman in my family down to me has. But, oh, silly me, female figures are crafted, we’re not actually born looking the way we do. If we don’t fit a standard, it’s because WE’RE NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH.

    Are you kidding me with this?

    I wish people would stopstopstopit with this fat panic. I could not express to you how much I wish that.

    PS: Weight and health in general is about more than what food you eat or how much exercise you get. It’s about your genetics, your metabolism, your stress level, your habits (smoking or not smoking, drinking), your age, and sometimes pure chance. Eating tofu and hitting the treadmill is the tip of the bloody iceberg.

  38. Angel H. says:

    I wish people would stopstopstopit with this fat panic. I could not express to you how much I wish that.

    The thing that pisses me off about this whole issue is simply this:

    When did my Big Black Ass become anybody else’s business but my own?

  39. Angel H. says:

    I’m not an expert on black culture. Should I ignore that in my personal observations, many black women wish that their asses were bigger?

    Define “many”.

    It must have come from somewhere. Maybe you have the answer?

    While you’re at it, define “sterotype”.

  40. Angel H. says:

    Odd. Could’ve sworn I closed that first blockquote…

    And correctly spelled “stereotype”…

    That’s what I get for reading blogs when I’m supposed to be working! ^_^;

  41. liza says:

    It’s funny how people are talking about Dickerson as if she were a white liberal. Didn’t anybody notice she’s black?

  42. liza says:

    not that, by the way, that gives her any reason to write ass-backwards shit like that one, but i just thought it was funny that people immediately assumed she was not black.

  43. Sally says:

    Who do you think assumed Dickerson wasn’t black?

  44. Nanette says:

    I noticed Dickerson was black (long ago) but that doesn’t prevent her from writing the most gawdawful stupid stuff or from rarely meeting a negative stereotype of black people that she does not seek to reinforce – in her effort to escape us and to become, I guess, sort of the LaShawn Barber of the “left”.

  45. bekabot says:

    day late + dollar short = “oh well”

    There are two reasons why this stuff creeps me out.

    1) I agree, of course, as anybody would, that women who are already obese and whose health is endangered due to their size should not be encouraged to gain weight. Why is it, though, that the particular women who come in for these kind of fat-panic reprehensions are never obese? Why is it always the case that though they may indeed have a little extra meat on their bones, they’re not actually fat, just curvaceous? Why is it so often the case that their figures, as figures go, are in fact somewhat better than the average? And why is it that other women are the ones who always end up delivering the scolding? What’s up with that?

    2) Why is it that women who end up getting scolded for being “fat” disproportionately (no pun intended) are dark-skinned? The two most recent recipients of these kinds of scoldings have been Jordin Sparks and Buffie the Body, one of whom, so I understand, is biracial, and the other one of whom is black. White chicks who are fleshy and hot after the same approximate style don’t get ranked on in the same manner. Britney Spears can go to the supermarket where she can, what’s worse, be caught eating, but while people may scoff at her penchant for funny clothes or for too few clothes, generally they don’t attack her on the basis of her weight. Why not?

    And it’s not as though there’s any shortage of genuinely fat white women. Rosie O’Donnell, for example, is no-foolin’ fat, and she has a far greater currency among her fellow women than do figures like (once again, no pun intended) Jordin Sparks and Buffie the Body, whose appeal is geared more towards men. Yet no one has advised Rosie O’Donnell that by pursuing a career in showbiz she’s encouraging white women from sea to shining sea to Nacho themselves to death. I’m not suggesting that anybody should do this, mind you, but I’m puzzled as to why nobody has…if it’s really women’s eating habits and health which are at issue.

    If, OTOH, it’s something else about women that’s at issue, it’s no marvel that Rosie O’Donnell, who stands outside the heterosexual brangle, has not been taken to task about her size. Men don’t care what Rosie weighs, and therefore women don’t either.

  46. justicewalks says:

    bekabot, add Tyra Banks to the list of recently fat-shamed black women.

  47. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Black Women Live Longer If They’re “Overweight”

  48. bekabot says:

    bekabot, add Tyra Banks to the list of recently fat-shamed black women.

    ,,,aw gee, forgot her. Thanks for the reminder.

  49. frankye says:

    My favorite part of the article is where Dickerson suggests that black people’s preference for big asses is a way of sticking it to The White Man. Yes, teen-aged boys beat it to BET’s Uncut with the specific goal of striking a blow against racist beauty standards.

    I guess Dickerson thinks that we are all obsessed with white peoples’ opinions the way she is.

  50. belledame222 says:

    I’m sorry but I think this woman’s (Buffie’s) entire story is part of the performance. Including the eating nothing but junk food and energy shakes and never exercising bit. Why the performance, I don’t know. Though I can guess.

    modified feeder fetish, maybe?

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