Watch Out For The Big Girls…
Was I the only one disturbed by the proliferation of, how do I say this, overweight(?) black women while watching the BET Awards '07. For those who haven't seen it, watch the encore and pay attention to the first fifteen minutes of the show. There was an opening performance by Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Holliday (that's two overweight women), the introduction of Mo,'Nique (that's three), followed by the evenings first presenter, Queen Latifah (that's four), and finally, the fan introduction of the first category's nominee who was clearly overweight (that's five).
Later in the evening, the ultimate fan (or whatever they call it) contest winner who presented the Viewer Choice Award was also clearly overweight. Chaka Khan was clearly out of shape when she was performing a tribute to Diana Ross. And in an ultimate twist of irony, there was a tribute to Gerald Levert, a man who had succumbed to his own health problems that were in direct correlation to his massive size.
Am I the only person who wanted to holler at this?
Look, we all know obesity is a big, huge problem amongst black women. Across the board, that shit is just problematic. But to the best of my knowledge our people are the only ones who give overweight sisters a stamp of approval. What's interesting is black men can't get away with the same thing. Not for nothing, a fat rapper hasn't been hot since Biggie died.Â I think Young Jeezy is as close as we've got recently, and even he started hitting the gym to promote his second album because he claimed live performances were getting him winded. Another group of people who don't really celebrate obesity is white women. When is the last time you've heard Rosie O'Donnell scream with glee about her size? When Kirstie Alley got as big as a house, she went and created a whole show about her taking off the pounds she gained.
Meanwhile, black female celebrities like Mo'Nique basically tell sisters, through some rose colored glasses, that it's okay to be big, because being a big woman is who you are and you should never be ashamed of who you are. To an extent, I agree, but I'm also a big believer in improving self, and not in a superficial sense. If being proud of your size and the look it has given you is coming at the expense of your health, you need to re-evaluate your life.
The most troubling aspect of this dilemma is how many brothers out here I see supporting overweight women. I swear, some men are so prone to a sister with a fat ass, they won't even pay attention to the cupcake hips sitting on top of it, or the gut above that. Only amongst our people could a man like D'Angelo actually get a woman like Angie Stone pregnant.Â And I'm certainly not saying there's anything wrong with that. I'm just saying, if you're going to be with a woman like that, there should be no reason for her to get to the point where she shows up on a season of Celebrity Fit Club.
Speaking of Celebrity Fit Club, clearly shows like that and The Biggest Loser are promoting healthier living, but how many people are choosing to tune into Celebrity Fit Club over Charmed School? Not that many, I bet. And besides, shows like these aren't even about promoting a message of healthy living as much as they're about making a mockery out of the weight loss process for the sake of entertainment.
Even worst, many women and men out there will defer blame to magazines like the very one this website represents. Our idea of beauty is, how do I say this, a bit softer and more curvaceous than mainstream America. But I have news for many of you: A lot, and when I say a lot, I mean a vast majority, of the women you see in the pages of KING also stay their ass in the gym.
To clarify, what I'm not talking about is aesthetics, gentlemen. Hey, if you like that look, go for it. But don't be afraid to check your woman and keep her in shape. Everything in life is about balance, and one can of Diet Coke going up against a double quarter pounder and french fries is not balance. That's like saying all you need to do is take your vitamins everyday and you won't ever have to go to the doctor. Black men should not be afraid to check their women about unhealthy eating habits and an unhealthy lifestyle. As for the black men who are overweight and still getting play from the opposite sex, check yourself, and quit falling for that whole "Teddy Bear" thing. It's not that they're lying to you, it's just they're not challenging you to do better.
What we need to do is be fearless in challenging those celebrities who have true weight problems. I'm not talking about those who look overweight, I'm talking about those who look unhealthy. You think Oprah wanted to shed her pounds? Maybe, but to the extent that she did it probably had more to due with NBC telling her if she didn't solve her problem, she would never get to the place where she is today with their help. Ditto for Al Roker. Unfortunately, our celebrities on the chitlin circuit (aka BET and TVOne) still get embraced by our community just because they're funny or have some other talent. Of course, like I said, there's nothing wrong with a big woman, because there is always going to be someone out there who likes them. But there is something wrong with letting that seal of approval get to your head and not looking at yourself, or your loved ones critically. I love my beautiful black and brown women who come in all sizes. But the thing is, I love them enough to keep them around for as long as they can.