Black women,

If you can only see yourselves as we see you.

I took a trip to Los Angeles over a year ago for the first time in my life. Like any half aware person, I went to L.A. with a certain perception of glitz and glamour of the Hollywood life. The biggest notables of my trip were, in no particular order:

1) The division of classes (there are some grimy areas in L.A…not too far from the pretty ones)
2) The bustle of the acting scene (everybody is trying to make something happen out there)
3) The skinny women

For the last point, there were some exceptions. But that was the rule. The Hollywood culture infiltrates the female psyche in an obvious and damaging way: thin is in, thick is disgusting. Females were doing whatever they can to stay in that desirable mode, so that they can land a role and become that next star. Being a lifelong Atlantan, I couldn’t – and still can’t – fathom the notion of thinning yourself out to make your self more appealing. That is counterintuitive. However, there in La La land, it was going to happen. Damn whether her body type is fit for a size 2, she is going to get to that size.

Over a year later, it hit me: That nonsense isn’t just on the West Coast; it is pervading women everywhere. With an ever scrutinizing eye on the obesity rate here in America, there is an inordinate amount 130 pound women wanting to be 120 pound women. And 145 pounds? Please, depression central.

This is not only neurotic, it’s psychologically dangerous.

Different people, families, races all have specific body types. If your family, for generations, has been chomping on seasoned ribs, collard greens and potato salads at the frequency rate of a CNN political debate, then chances are that you will be a little thicker than a family that pinches its seasoning and settles for more turkey and cheese sandwiches. More straight to the point, black people generally are thicker than white people. It’s a law of life. So why can’t you realize that? Why let another sect – who secretly envies your body type and aging mechanisms – establish your sense of beauty?

The reason I have been pushed over the edge to vent to you my thoughts on this is because I am constantly hearing you agonize over your pounds. While I was at the gym recently, there were a group of women huddling around the scale like meth addicts jonesing for a fix. It was a sickening sight.

Much of this damage is done on the subconscious level. There are scores of women who can’t even pinpoint why they want to be smaller or why curves are viewed as anathema or why some of you ogle over women in magazines as much as men do (don’t even try to deny…I’ve seen it many times). This has a subtle trickle out effect as well. Imagine that you go into work to see that co-worker who just makes you feel bad about yourself (you know that I’m talking about; the one who is the “perfect size”, who reminds you of what you want to be and where you’re not physically.). Your mood has become inexplicably sour for the next hour or so, and if you see her again, maybe even the whole day. Work productivity goes down, attitudes towards others sour a bit and behold, you have a lost day because of some false sense of vanity.

Imagine this effect over a relationship. Personal insecurity in a relationship is about as helpful as chapped thighs. It doesn’t lead to relationship bliss. Beautiful women, I don’t know if you ever heard this before, but I have to have to let you in on a well-known secret:

Men like women with meat on them.

I understand that that may be presumptuous of me. Many women beautify themselves for themselves, not for men. So where does this concept of beauty come from? Environment? Parents? Media?

All of which brings me back to my West Coast trip; the place where the distortion of beauty has its home. It was amazing to me to navigate through the place where the most popular sitcoms are shot, where the Hollywood Walk-of-Fame lies, where Robin Williams and Neve Campbell (who, ironically, looked as if she had been eating salads for dinner for the last 365 days) walked right pass me and of course, and more petite girls.

Understand that there is nothing wrong with endeavoring to lose weight. But lose weight because it is healthily expedient, not because of some societal stigma. The more time you spend fretting over your kilograms, the more time that your man will spend sliding away. There’s nothing more frustrating to a man than to be with a thick woman that wants to lose weight (if you gain 50 pounds after he gets with you and a baby is not involved, then that is a different story).

Going from 140 to 130 is overrated, unless your cholesterol level demands it. Otherwise, relax and rejoice in the curves that you’ve been blessed with. Because I guarantee you that your man will.



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