Okay, I’m pretty sure that Her Royal Flyyness Madame Dr. Tha L covered this topic in her blog,* but I don’t think it can be restated enough. *deep breath* How does one define a “real woman?”
Before your mind starts wrapping itself around existentialism, gender politics, and femininity, let me clarify that I am referring to size. Girth, junk in the trunk, thickness and obesity have long been conversation topics in this fast food world we live in. Add on top of that, the fact that even our meat and vegetables are pumped so full of growth hormones, or spliced with God knows what, healthy eating has almost become a unicorn: oft spoken of, rarely seen. Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate, and is directly linked to heart disease and Type II diabetes. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States.
Therefore, imagine my dismay when iVillage, an e-zine that specializes in women’s health and interests, sent me an email titled “Are Real Women Really the New Sexy?” The email implored me to “[r]ead one woman’s plea for magazines to stop putting these women on a pedestal as an example of ‘real’ women, and tell us what you think.” So, I read before I came to any conclusions. The writer bemoans the fact that the representation of women with curves are the likes of Christina Hendricks (who is a smoking hot chick, by the way), Beyonce and Scarlett Johansson, yet according to the Center for Disease Control the average woman is 5’3 and 164 pounds. The writer went on to say that actresses are not real women, a statement which may well be another blog post in and of itself.
And you want to know what I think?
Well iVillage, I think you’re irresponsible, and I think your writer bitter, and quite likely a little pudgy. Had she chosen to the path of due diligence, she would have found the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Adult Body Mass Index Calculator. According to the calculator, a 5’3 woman that is 164 pounds has a BMI of 29. The BMI of an obese person? Thirty. The average woman is overweight. The average woman is 5.5 pounds away from obesity. Two hot wings and a slice of pizza, and your DONE son! The article upset me, because there are two issues at work.
The first being this: there should be no awards for us, as a culture, eating ourselves into oblivion. Obese moms make for obese kids. It is heartbreaking to witness a child under the age of 8, barely able to catch their breath due to minimal exertion. It’s criminal, it’s obscene, it’s lazy and it is not loving. You are not only stigmatizing your child socially, but also setting your child up for a world of health issues. Before you criticize these “un-real” women, be honest and ask yourself if you are TRULY healthy and happy with your weight. The actress Mo’Nique painted herself into a corner on her “skinny women are evil” platform, then suffered backlash from her sistren in backfat when she chose to put down the pie and pick up a carrot. “But I’m HEALTHY,” she cried. So, what were you then? I distinctly remember you in the movie “Phat Girlz” (don’t you dare judge me *kisses*), railing against the evils of Spring Mix. Oh, but now it’s okay, because you no longer feel like an outsider? I understand it’s a coping mechanism, but help other women and admit that.
Second, criticizing women who are not overweight is hypocritical, because you are still projecting a negative body image. If a woman is starving herself, yes, that is unhealthy and awful, but I feel pretty confident in the assertion that a Salma Hayek is NOT skipping meals (neither are her magical, life sustaining chichis). Why is she not “real?” Why is the plus sized supermodel (who is a size 12) not real? Ashley Stewart, a purveyor of plus sized finery, starts at size 12 if memory serves. And let’s go smaller. My mother had four children and was a size four. She also sewed for all four of us, cooked homemade meals every night, and made a conscious decision to abstain from excessive snacking. Good luck escaping with your teeth if you attempt to tell me that she was not a real woman. Some women have smaller frames than others. Some have metabolisms that function at a higher rate. None should be penalized for nature. And there is also nothing wrong with a healthy work out plan. The concept is simple: If you take in x, you must burn y. If you do not burn y, x will get all up in that ass…and thighs…and heart.
The refusal to lose weight (and I say this as an obese woman) is either due to depression, laziness, or in some cases, outright stubbornness (though rarely have I encountered a stubborn “Imma be fat” woman that was not combating her own personal demons). Stop trying to prove a point. What baffles me, is how some (not all) of these women who supposedly reject society’s notion of beauty, will spend extraordinary amounts of time and money on every other notion that doesn’t involve weight. Shoes, cosmetics, hair, nails, clothing are quite often done to excess. Don’t tell me you don’t care about society’s view on how you look; you wouldn’t spend an hour and a half getting dressed if you didn’t. Let’s get to the core of the matter.
Don’t let stubbornness or discouragement keep us from the road to health and well being. I know it’s hard. Weight loss is one of the hardest things I have ever attempted, and I’m a single parent. I can keep my kids in line; keeping myself in line is a horse of another color. I am an obese woman who considers myself to be beautiful. But that beauty has NOTHING to do with how fat or slim I can be. It is due to my heart, that I desperately want to keep beating for as long as I can. So I plan to get busy. I’ve only got one question, and it can best be summed up best by my favorite stoner Brian:
WHO’S COMIN’ WITH ME?
*For the life of me, I can not remember the name or estimated date of the post, please forgive.