Shut Up About Fat Black Women & Their “Over Confidence”

I read an article a while ago that suggested that black women were delusional about their health and over confident about their bodies and this led them to staying fat …the article suggested that fat was traditional for black women and it set fat = unhealthy. Which is a crock of shit….sooo

Firstly, the body type for black women is traditional BECAUSE of their poor health ( which can be traced back to slavery)but they CAN be fat and healthy which is why focusing on how they LOOK is a bad way to go. there is alot of evidence out there that suggests one can be healthy and fat w/ “rolls” (see the HAES research) , there is merit in discarding the idea that we should talk about WEIGHT and instead attack HEALTH and only health. I take issue with the idea that black women who are overweight or obese are somehow “over confident” , and that they are “delusional” about their health. Its insulting to declare a fat person delusional on merit of them being fat. Or that a group of women who have been encouraged and portrayed as ugly insignificant and inferior can be too confident. Not to mention all of the bigotry that fat women in general face, add that to color, and class and your looking at a social system that makes being a fat black woman with confidence almost impossible. Black women (and other autonomous adults) are experts on themselves, rarely will you meet a person of any size who doesn’t know what their lifestyle and health are like. Until you treat people like experts on themselves you cannot tell them anything even if its beneficial

The conversation needs to change from fat black women are over confident, fat black women are delusional, to a discourse about how to help black women make healthy choices when they face a lack of access to grocery stores, health care, finances, nutritional knowledge and safe spaces to workout. The conversation should center around beating this accumulation of fat BEFORE it accumulates, rather than shaming body types and tacking on stereotypes to these body types. I am an obese woman. I love my body but I also value my health. I am not delusional about what i need to do to remain healthy and fit but I ALSO know that i can be a fat girl AND be healthy. That is my goal, that is what I work on. I do not focus on losing weight, weight loss is only a symptom of health and fitness and the reality is that when women who are my size trade their lifestyles for healthy and active ones they do NOT lose substantial amounts of weight but they DO become healthy. Only about 5%  of people who are very large lose and keep their weight off over their lifetimes, not because they are lazy or delusional but because fat is hard to get rid of and is NOT an indicator of bad health.

A girl ate chicken nuggets for 15 years and almost died but no one thought this was an issue…why? because she was THIN. She was unhealthy because of her lifestyle but you couldn’t tell by looking at her….a body does not tell you the lifestyle of a person. Yes some people get fat by over eating and eating poorly but they can STAY fat and change their lifestyles and become healthy….that is the message we should be sending. All bodies should be valued, and health should be encouraged not a false beauty ideal that people are trying to obscurely connect to health. Not to mention the many women who suffer illnesses that cause them to gain weight and have nothing to do with their food and fitness

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18 thoughts on “Shut Up About Fat Black Women & Their “Over Confidence”

  1. I could not care less about someone being over-confident or anything comparable. What are fat people supposed to do? Have low self esteem JUST cause they’re fat?

    However, I do take issue with the vast majority of fat women’s poor regard for their health. It’s really very simple, all you have to do is eat right and exercise. When you go to the grocery store, generally, you should shop on the perimeter of the store and think to yourself fresh meats, fresh veggies/fruits, fresh nuts- (well nuts last a long time, but you get my drift). Focus on eating simple carbs (which are also on the perimeter) rather than complex. Some examples of simple carbs are milk, yogurt, fruit. Just think fresh, fresh, fresh.

    Safe spaces to work out? Your home is the most convenient and safe place IMO. I’ve come across black women who are like “Oh, well I take the stairs when I go to the subway. that’s not enough?” I tell them, “No” then show them how to get insanity, p90x and chalene johnson for free. There are also a plethora of free fitness websites.

    But honestly, doctors want us to be unhealthy. If they didn’t you wouldn’t see so many drugs advertised on TV. My doctor has never EVER told me to exercise. He did, however, tell me to take this pill.

    1. here’s my issue with what you just said….FIRSTLY you are assuming that all fat women do not bother with their health. This is a false assumption. Secondly it appears you are speaking from a place of privilege and you clearly have never had to shop at a grocery store where flies buzz around the fresh produce and the cheapest thing to buy is in a box that takes thirty minutes to make. I’m upset that you think its alright to tell black women that the issues they face are not valid simply because they do not apply to YOU. Safe spaces to work out is a LEGITIMATE ISSUE. Alot of these women are already taking the stairs its not like they live in high rises with penthouse floors. And it is also an issue of CLASS, as i stated in my article. Lower class women lack a resource called TIME, children and 40 hr a week jobs that barely meet the minimum and sometimes caring for older family members puts enormous strain on women. Not to mention the constraints put on these women if they fall ill or suffer a physical or mental handicap. You do NOT know the situation of every woman and you certainly cannot discount issues that come with the intersection of race, class and gender. I dont mean to come down hard on what you’ve said but you didnt negate any of the things I said in my article, you just basically said “oh well why dont they go to the grocery store and why dont they find the time to do a daily intensive work out in their homes” without regard for access, time etc.

      1. People always say “It’s so simple to lose weight…” If that were true don’t you think NO ONE would be overweight? I have lost a lot of weight and it wasn’t easy or simple, it was difficult, expensive (healthy foods are more expensive than cheap foods) and time consuming. Luckily for me I had the resources to do it but not everyone has that. And, not everyone WANTS to do that! So I say, worry about you and yours, not me and mine.

      2. “The conversation needs to change from fat black women are over confident, fat black women are delusional, to a discourse about how to help black women make healthy choices when they face a lack of access to grocery stores, health care, finances, nutritional knowledge and safe spaces to workout.”

        I changed the discourse of the convo just like you said. If I ignored some things, it’s because I was addressing the above quote- which to me was the most important part.

        And I am coming from a privileged place, I’ll admit it. One thing I don’t have a lot of, however, is money and I do live in a low income part of Austin, tx. But I’m lucky to live in a city that places a high value on physical fitness…everywhere you go, you see people running- which motivates me to stay on top of my game. I do wonder what its like for those who don’t grow up in that kind of environment though, I imagine things would be harder.

        What do you mean by safe spaces to work out though? Is your home not a safe space? It’s free and with the right videos it can actually be fun.

        Fruits/veggies with flies? There are farmers markets (which are expensiv

        As far as time…One habit my fitness mentor talks about is waking up early to work out. If you wake up before everyone else then no one will bug you nor will you have to worry about doing it at the end of the day when you don’t feel like it. My mentor wakes up at 4:45, which for me is too damb early. I personally wake up at 6. Also, if you’re burned out from work think of ways to side hustle so you can have more time for YOU. One website that’s helping me with side hustling right now is goodfaithinvesting.com. It’s taught me about mobile home investing, lease options and other ways to earn passive income so you’re not actually GOING to work everyday.

        If they fall ill? Exercise boosts your immune system. I work out cause I don’t have time to be sick. Physical handicaps? I see people with no legs in the gym. Mental handicap? That’s a valid concern. if your mind isn’t in it, then exercise won’t happen.

        I also don’t think it’s simple to lose weight, but it’s not supposed to be. You said you wanted to shift the discourse away from one thing and into helping out said fat black women. I hope I’ve helped in some way.

      3. the home CAN be a safe place to work out ….this does of course depend on space and when dealing with low income families of color you also encounter living arrangements that are not conducive to doing work out videos….I’m thinking along the lines of a spouse that does not approve or children that are always underfoot. When I talk about safe spaces to work out I’m talking about being able to go for a run or a walk around the block without being harassed or being fearful that something might happen to you. For alot of people, across all economic levels, working out in the home doesnt work because there is no motivation or there isnt enough space, having the option to leave your home to pursue better health is important. Also having the TIME to work out is very important. You are again, offering options that are too costly…also…i’ve never heard or seen a farmers market that took food stamps or was located in a low income neighborhood….Again you are comparing your personal life to every low income family of color and assuming that because YOU can do it and you have the time then they can too, thats just not going to work. You are also suggesting different work for these families X_____________X making assumptions that they have internet or even cell phones to do what YOU do……and YES if they fall ill…. exercising does NOT INSURE that you will never get sick, dont even imply that and having a handicap when your poor is MUCH HARDER to navigate ….sigh. I’m not going to argue this anymore at the risk of repeating myself. The point is not to help fat black women lose weight, it is to help them get healthier….unfortunately your suggestions do not present viable macro options to alleviate this problem

      4. I absolutely agree with the access to fresh produce bit. I visited a friend in Georgia recently and bought an apple at the local grocery store. When I bit into it I noticed that it was soft (rotten) so went back to exchange it. They did not have a single fresh apple in the entire store. Every single one that I grabbed was slightly rotten. That is her reality everyday.

      5. exactly smh so even when you make the effort…..you end up wasting money you dont have on food you can’t eat….its messed up…though some community projects including community gardens might alleviate that…idk

  2. I’ve seen this happen so often. It’s like if you’re a large woman you’re supposed to live your life apologizing for it. That you are not WORTHY of happiness or confidence because you’re fat. And I’ve heard many people express disgust at a big woman who dared to wear something cute and fashion-forward. But if you go out in sweats and a t-shirt people call you a slob, it’s a lose-lose situation. I’m happy you love YOU, you deserve to love you, and I hope other women follow your example.

    1. Thanks Brenda 🙂 as always your feed back is appreciated and its so true that whenever someone sees a plus sized, fat, full figured woman they are quick to jump to conclusions and they are EVEN QUICKER to start shaming you….what hurts the most is that the shaming comes with coercion and manipulation because it is never enough to make a fat woman feel unworthy, you have to take advantage of her while she’s down. Black women are treated pretty badly socially in our country and to add being a woman of size to that means that high self esteem is hard to come by and i hate when someone tries to take a cheap shot at it.

  3. Having a husband who does not support your goals, be it fitness, career or whatever is a whooollleee nother topic. You can also have your children workout with you, that’s probably the best example you can set. If one wants to remain a wage slave forever and not even THINK about entrepreneurship? Then that’s on them.

    But you know what? You’re just throwing excuse, after excuse, after excuse.. Fat women should just keep doing everything that they are currently doing because, well, it’s too much work to clean the living room to create some space to work out…it’s too much work to get up early before everyone else… It’s too much work to find a man to support my goals…Just keep doing you. I’ve provided some answers but all you’re doing is telling me why people can’t exercise.

    I’ve provided some solutions and if people can’t find the MOTIVATION (just as you said) to workout inside their homes? (Hell you can even include your children in the activity if they are so underfoot) Then that’s why we’re fat.

    1. not necessarily a husband….could be a grand mother, live in boyfriend, what have you….phew, i thought I was an idealist, I dont think you can understand being poor and black and living in a bad neighborhood and its becoming increasingly hard to explain it to you. Especially when you’re trying to push “entrepreneurship” in a bootstrappy way….sigh. And you are throwing out faux solutions out every step of the way. You think you’re the ONLY one who has thought to do a damn exercise in a living room? hmmm its a wonder why it hasnt caught fire *eye roll* also…you are STILL SPEAKING FROM A PLACE OF PRIVILEGE and you sound contemptuous “thats why you’re fat” ….that is the last comment you will be approved for on my blog. And it is the last one I will read. Don’t waste your time.

  4. “The conversation needs to change from fat black women are over confident, fat black women are delusional, to a discourse about how to help black women make healthy choices when they face a lack of access to grocery stores, health care, finances, nutritional knowledge and safe spaces to workout.”

    I 100% agree, but this statement assumes that we (the general public, not you or I) actually care about the health of black women. The truth is, we don’t. Women are supposed be thin and shapely or “thick” so men can have something nice to look at, ogle, and harass as we walk down the street and us fatties are messing it up for the men. Therefore, the responses we are getting from society as a whole is not concern over our health and general well-being, it’s basically telling us to get in line and be a “typical” pretty girl so that men have something nice to look at instead of the fat slobs we are now.*

    *Of course this is not my belief, but what society is telling us everytime they tell us fat black women (or fat women in general) they are cocnerned about our health, without addressing the underlying causes.

    1. i agree, my article was in response to a blog written by a black woman on black women’s health, it was mostly in response to that. But there has been alot of blaming when it comes to the health epidemic on fat people….and even specifically fat black women….its not at all subtle and you’re right, the health of fat ppl in general is NEVER discussed, it is assumed by being measured against idealistic norms of beauty and thinnness. Thank you for your comment 🙂

  5. I know this is a from a few months ago but I’m going to chime in anyway 🙂 Yes, health should be the goal, not a size, not an image, not parroting what everyone else is doing. In our society thin does equate to healthy and larger to unhealthy/sloppiness/etc. It disgusts me that our society would rather breed a generation with eating disorders than have them be healthy and in a larger size of clothing. And I won’t even get started on the negative connotations associated with any piece of clothing over a size 6.

    Now, I don’t claim to completely understand everything you are dealing with. I’m not a black woman and my size is average. I’m not telling you this to try and push more bullshit superiorities on you, but simply to say I see this very frequently and it makes me extremely angry. Also I want to be honest and not make you think I’m claiming to “totally understand you” because that’s just condescending. I believe a person can empathize and stand up for something even if they have not experienced it in the same way or experienced it at all. I have been treated… cruelly sounds rather melodramatic but it’s the word that seems to suit the situation the best… regarding weight and appearance and it was mostly from my family and other women/girls. I do not understand it. I have experienced a LOT of pressure like every female in America (around the world?) who doesn’t fit society’s idea of feminine perfection. It’s so pointless and is such an incredibly superficial way of placing values on people.

    I also believe your reasoning behind why it is hard for women, black women in particular, to get healthy and stay healthy is very valid. I see a lot of similarities between those challenges and what I’ve witnessed Hispanic women face: discrimination at every turn based on the most ridiculous stereotypes, small incomes (which does NOT equate to how much energy is being put forth), lack of resources for exercising, being objectified in greater numbers and protected less, larger households especially if it is a multi-generational household, etc. The challenges are huge! Just exercising and staying healthy alone can be a big problem. Yeah, I’d love to see myself attempt P90X with my toddler running around. Yoga bombed because I simply turned into his jungle gym. The thing is, these are everyday challenges to having kids around, they’re normal behaviors but it doesn’t make them any less hard to deal with. And that was with ONE! Not to mention the fact that when life is being an absolute bitch in a lot of other respects, working that hard to exercise simply doesn’t make sense. It pretty much drops on the priorities list. This is also normal and not something to be mocked nor is it an excuse for a woman to be pulled apart because of. My god, how hard would it be for us to simply try and be more empathetic? I know the live and let live bit can sound a bit cliched, but it certainly would be a step in the right direction.

  6. I am an obese white woman and it is the opposite in our culture (or lack thereof). Anorexia and low self esteem abounds. Kudos to you for loving your body!!!!

  7. You’re what is wrong with this country. First off, people need to stop using slavery as an excuse for everything. Is that your medical opinion that slavery is the root of the alarming rate of obesity in African American women? Not their predetermined genes or anything like that right? And because so many African American women today were so personally effected by slavery, right? It was a horrible thing that happened, and we must all learn from histories mistakes as to not repeat them. But stop looking for excuses as to why obesity is so openly accepted in this country. History is not to blame, rather our over indulging self involved lifestyle we Americans so proudly live. You’re whole article is just another piece of accepting bullshit literature that makes obese people feel they do not need to change. I hope no one seriously reads the ridiculous things you write. You may want to take a basic A&P class or even just gain some common sense.

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