Sunday, June 17, 2012

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When Double Dutch Was Never Enuf

For the last five years attacks on Black women's anything has been fair game. Our hair, our looks, our lack of relationship status, how many children we have or don't have, our education and wealth or lack there of, you name it, it's been criticized. But now that's not enough. Instead of continuing to come after the women, researchers, demographers, analysts, and the intelligentsia with a healthy curiosity are now starting to come after a younger set. As in children. Little Black girls. They're targeting the babies.

Before my absence I attempted to write a piece on the new obesity projections. While Blogger had other ideas of what to do with my post (as in send it to the internet abyss) the fact remains by the year 2030 42 percent of U.S. adults will be obese. Many of these future adults are children now which means this new study finding Black girls benefit less from exercise than their less pigmented playmates is especially troubling. This new study from the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolsecent Medicine condemns young Black girls to a lifetime of obesity without a cure.

Today is Sunday, which means many Black families mine included will at some point sit around of table of good fattening food. In a few hours I will make candied yams, macarroni and cheese, cornbread, steamed green beans, and baked chicken. The menu is soul food at its finest. Is it the healthiest. No. However, there is a way to cook the foods you like, feast on the heart attack inducing products while also moderating portion size and just going outside to play afterwards to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

But this study disagrees.

"African-American girls might be at a disadvantage in the weight game, such as having lower metabolic rates and lower rates of fat oxidation than their white peers. 
Other potential contributing factors are a higher daily caloric intake and more sedentary behaviors, like watching TV, the study says. 
The authors note that "promoting activity would have less impact in this high-risk population." 
In other words, obesity campaigns directed at African-American girls should consider focusing less on exercise and more on controlling caloric intake." 
"It's not just physical activity," Ginny Ehrlich, chief of executive of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, told the Los Angeles Times newspaper.
"That's particularly important for African-American girls." 
Ehrlich says she would be hesitant to share the findings with young black women because body image is "already a sensitive subject."
"It creates yet another barrier to what might already feel like a struggle," she told the Times. "When we talk with young people, we talk about healthy living -- eating better and moving more. We're trying to stay away from messaging around obesity."

Two points.

  1. No matter how the message is delivered it is still centered around obesity. Obesity is an epidemic and we will be foolish to ignore it. 
  2. It's not just young Black girls or Black women who have body image issues. All women have body image issues. And men do as well. 
With that said portion control and caloric intake is just as important as how you prepare what you put in your body. First Lady Michelle Obama is known for her physique, her garden and her commitment to promoting healthy living. She is also known for eating what she likes in moderation. 

The same is a real possibility for Black women and their daughters, nieces etc. It is the way I cook and feed my family. Taking what is deemed inherently unhealthy and preparing it in a way to cut down on cholesterol and sodium while retaining flavor.  

Studies saying what won't work doesn't help the problem it exacerbates the disease. Telling a child don't go out and play because you're still going to have a gut is like telling a child don't read because you don't have the capacity to learn. If you would never tell a child they don't have the capacity to learn you should then by that same token never tell a child they can't be fit or that they're doomed to be overweight. 

All I need is a bad bitch
That I can run through the city spend this cash with
That I can run through this city spend this cash on
Wake up in the morning get my smash on
I don't want much baby egg whites
Keep your stomach and your thighs and your legs right 

~ Young Jeezy 
While rail thin is not as emphasized in the Black community as a look like Beyonce, Buffy the Body, or Kim Kardashian the standard is still on fitness with thickness.

Young Black girls have as much to live up to in the body image department as young White girls. And while all girls may play rope together or run around in a game of tag one tag all hide and seek, the real test of what they are and how they look will be more determined by the reinforcement they receive at home than anything else. Words will do more damage than a Happy Meal. Lack of healthy lifestyle habits can lead to bouts of thinspiration and obesity.

Having a positive body image is as much a mental struggle as it is physical. It is ruled by thought and personal choice. Saying one matters more than the other is a defeatist strategy automatically giving in to the prophecy of obesity in 2030.

No one of any race, color, creed or metabolic rate is congenitally prone to obesity. Obesity develops the same way as alcoholism and drug addiction. The difference is while alcohol, cocaine and heroin are not necessary for survival food is

The food conversation needs to be redirected in all communities. Don't just tell me I'm going to be fat. Don't just tell me to stop using excuses like my hair for the reason why I'm fat. Don't tell me I can't help being fat. And don't say it to children at all.

If researchers want to study something that will have a tangible effect on communities of all people, especially children, study why everything on the perimeter of the grocery store costs two to three times as much as the items in the middle of the grocery store. Why am I paying $10 for 10 apples when I can buy apple flavored Kool-Aid packs for 10 cents? Why am I paying $6 for a small container of spinach when 8 cans of creamed spinach costs half that?

Study the problem and not a part of the solution researchers deem ineffective for one group of children who will grow up to be women facing similar attacks without the guise of being helpful.

Jump on Black girls, Jump on.


1. Do you agree with the study that Black families should focus more on healthy food than physical activity?

2. Is this study just another underhanded attack on Black women by starting in on them as children?

3. Obesity is a problem. What are some of the solutions and how do you implement them in communities for real effectual change outside of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and NutriSystem ads?

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