Essay author, Lisa Respers France

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 57.6% of Black women over the age of 20 years old are considered obese. Too often we can look to the women in our family or even ourselves for the proof. We have been told by doctors that we need to shed the pounds because they are not only making us sick, but literally killing us.

But Black women have also been known to “wear their weight well”, proudly putting together cute outfits that flaunt their fuller figures and making sure their hair and nails stay on point. Fat and fly is a mantra and a way of life. However, sometimes this confidence might be masking a very real pain about one’s weight, in addition to a struggle with and addiction to food.

Lisa Respers France, senior producer for CNN Digital’s Entertainment section and star of the CNN Original Video series “Lisa’s Desk” wrote for CNN’s First Person, a series of personal essays exploring identity and personal points of view that shape who we are. Her essay, “A Fat Girl Gets Naked” is about being overweight and addicted to food; and is compelling and a moving testimony to the difficulties of overcoming this addiction.

Respers France writes:

You’ve met me before. I’m the fat, funny girl who is often hailed for my confidence and self-esteem. The big girl who has “such a pretty face” and who, despite her weight, manages to snag really great looking boyfriends.

I “dress really well for my size” and am so much fun to be around because of my outgoing personality.

“Don’t call me fat, I prefer the term ‘fluffy’ ” I say and you smile at how I am able to put you at ease about an uncomfortable subject.

I’m the first with a “Hell yeah!” fist pump for slogans like: “Sexy has no size” and “Love me for who I am, not what I look like.”

But I suffer from the one addiction that doesn’t elicit much sympathy from most people.

Respers France discussed how she became addicted to food and how she would use it to cope during sad events, like after breaking up with a boyfriend. She also admits her lack of self-worth (even though she is married and lives a full, blessed life) and how she is having the difficult conversations with herself to get to the root of the problem.

She writes:

I know that so much of my food and weight issues are really about my emotions. That was driven home recently when a counselor suggested “When Food is Love” by Geneen Roth.

I was in my kitchen, waiting for dinner to be ready when I read this passage and broke down sobbing: “Compulsive behavior, at its most fundamental, is a lack of self-love; it is an expression of a belief that we are not good enough.”

At that moment I realized that I have been trying to fill my heart by filling my stomach. But pinpointing the pain means going places I fear.

The essay is raw, real and as the title suggests, filled with naked truths about one woman’s journey to overcoming addiction to food. Read the whole essay here.

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  • GAGirl

    I’m the girl she describes- Fat, Fly and Funny. Great dresser, attractive, blossoming career. EXCEPT- I do not have self esteem issues, I have a very high self worth. I think I’d be the exact same person I am now whether I’m 225 or 125.

    As one of my besties told me “I don’t think I could be your friend if you lost 100lbs, you already think your the sh*t right now lol”.

    Me working on my weight is for health goals, not vanity. Whether I drop 50lbs or never lose an inch, I still unequivocally love me for me. I know that’s hard for some people to put it up with, but no amount of body shaming or disgust will ever make me feel ashamed of who I am.

    Some people need to deal with their inner self before they try to change their outer, because they can get hit that dream weight and still be left wondering why they aren’t happy with themselves.

  • Desiree

    I’m the girl she is talking about. I pretend I am happy with my weight. In fact. I look hot when I go out. However, it’s a lie. I don’t like how I feel when I take off my clothes. I am not as fast as I used to be. I can hear by breathing. I don’t like the rolls of fat around my stomach and my back. I am not happy but I have to put up a good front. Yes, being skinnier doesn’t make you happy. However, realizing how much I have let go of my body to the point when I look in the mirror, I don’t recognize myself is sad. I could be healthier. Fat pride is a terrible thing for us women because it’s an act. I am not talking about being a size 2 again but I am talking about being a comfortable size where I am healthy again. I can’t talk to any of my friends because I have to pretend I am happy and fly. They are not happy either but they put up a good front. I think it is time to face the facts. I am paying for a trainer next week and maybe we will get to a place where I can be healthier. My trainer was very clear with me during my intake session. She is a sister who lost 70 pounds and when I discussed the great life I was living, she stopped me and said “stop lying to yourself”.

    • I commend you! Go for it girl. You will feel empowered once you start taking care of yourself. I hope you begin to feel strong and empowered because you are working out, getting stronger and doing what is right for your body.

  • eausodani

    Thank you Desiree for your honesty. Im tired of overweight people saying they are okay with their size. Its not being curvy or plump. Not many things in nature are fat after infancy. Following that model, lose weight, clear your, and floor and get to work. Who cares who nice you dress or how fly your hair is?!? Your feet and back ache because of the stress it carries daily. No amount of corsetting or high waisted fabric can hide the truth that too much of anyrhing can kill you. Go drink 20 gallons of water right now and watch what happens if you think im lying. Thank you Desiree. Congrats in advance for your victory!!

    • GaGirl

      Well I guess you’re going to keep on being tired. I think it’s funny how people think I’m “lying to myself”. People make such speculations about my lifestyle or habits. Trust me, I wake up everyday in my skin, and I love what I see. Might be hard for people to wrap their head around it, but that is my truth.

  • MimiLuvs

    And so it begins…