An Open Letter To The Black Blogosphere - A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss

An Open Letter To The Black Blogosphere

aint-i-a-woman

Really, I suppose this is an open letter that could be addressed to anyone who casually takes on the topic of health and wellness… or even those who attack the topic with the sole intent of pushing a blatant angle.. I don’t know. I’m a stream of conscious writer.. so I doubt I’ll even go back and proofread this, let alone change the title to reflect anything different.

I’m just gonna cut to the chase. Sorry, in advance.

I’m tired of seeing these stupid blog topics that ask questions about why Black women are sooooooooooo fat.

You hear me? Stop it. Stop, stop, stop.

I’m tired of reading blog posts trivializing the health of Black women – not Americans, not even Black people… but Black women.

And if it were rooted in concern, truly willing and eager to gin up dialogue about what we’re all doing to make changes and how our efforts are working, I’d approve… but its not. It’s a bunch of people on one end of the spectrum holding up the other end of the spectrum as something to scientifically study. Holding your own up as collective Hottentot Venuses. “Why are you so… different? What the hell is wrong with you? You’re so intriguing… and unfortunate.”

And you know what really burns my whole wheat toast? Reading posts from people – usually Black men – about why and how white women manage to stay in such tip-top shape, but we – ohhhh, us Black girls – are just failing by and large.

If you’re going to discuss the shortcomings of Black women, can you do so without comparing us to another race? Particularly white women? Because while all you may see is a bunch of thin mints, I grew up watching many of these same girls and their disordered eating habits that they developed from their moms who had the same habits… trailing back to their great grandmothers who had no problem maintaining their petite figures… yet, no one knows why its so hard now. You know how I know that? Because well over two-thirds of America is “overweight.”

Would you prefer that Black women be subjugated to feeling like they are literally “less than” because they’re not built like [insert any woman]? And would you be okay with us sticking our fingers down our throats and hoping to “even out” at the end of each day so that we can maintain figures pleasing enough to “get a husband?” (Or… perhaps you believe that eating disorders aren’t a Black girl thing? You’d be wrong.) Would you prefer that we spend days not eating because it’s the quickest way to lose a few pounds before we go back to the gym to weigh in? Would you prefer that we subsist on liquid diets so that we can be thin like [insert a cover model]? ‘Cause trust me… that’s what a lot of these white girls suffer from. Unhealthy body images and horrid nutrition… but damn if they aren’t skinny.

And don’t get me wrong – Black women suffer from unhealthy body images, too – but that’s because we’re so busy trying to conform to the same immature title that you give us when you’re trying to get in our good graces: thick. We’re so busy trying to be “thick” – like those white girls are trying so hard to be “thin” – that both groups ignore their own actual health in the process. Did you ever think of that? Or were you too busy whining about the lack of women available to serve as your personal eye candy?

No one ever takes a serious look at why the weight problem is so prevalent. No one ever asks the hard questions about the food we eat, the drinks we enjoy, the lives we lead. No one ever says that there’s an inordinate amount of stress on these women – the same women who are likely to be heads of their households or, even, the only adult in their household – and that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the fact that we’re raised to put everyone and everything before ourselves and our own mental and physical wellness. No one addresses the fact that we, by and large, tend to feel guilty for taking time away from family to “be vain” and work out. No one is stepping up and saying “I’ll watch the little ones while you go work out for an hour,” they’re just saying “You’re gettin’ kinda thick, huh?”

No one is telling these women “Sugar makes you fat,” nor are they telling these women “If you’re still buying processed foods, that same sugar is in everything.” We’re expected to be superwomen… we’re also expected to be freaking food scientists. No one is telling us “Your food intake should consist of real food,” just feeding us that continual BS line about how calories in need to be less than calories out and everything in moderation.. because that stupid equation has everything to do with mental and physical wellness. Because it doesn’t matter where calories come from. Just lose the weight so that we don’t have to look at it… no matter how clogged your arteries are or how close you are to developing type 2 diabetes. How… uninformed.

And it’s so funny… because we always disregard the very legitimate reasons why Black women are carrying more weight as “excuses.” We can’t bring up the very real issues in hopes that we can dialogue about how to provide solutions? It’s automatically written off as “Stop trying to give these broads excuses for being fat. Get over it and go work out.” Do you know that people work out every day and don’t lose a single pound because they have poor nutrition information? There are people out there who know nothing about wellness… and they have to learn… and obviously, you aren’t the ones to teach them.

If I talk about the stress levels of Black women, it’s automatically shrugged off as “Everyone is stressed out. So what?” So, um, look at the stats – two thirds of America is also overweight, as well. It’s not the issue of stress – it’s an issue of stress management. That needs to be addressed. If I talk about access to food and the value we place on proper food as a culture… that’s not an issue to be shrugged off. Not everything is an excuse meant to remove a topic from discussion. It’s being brought up because it demands an answer… and if you aren’t prepared to give answers, you aren’t prepared to address the topic. Period.

And don’t even get me started on the comments. Ohhhhh, the comments. They just devolve into a fat girl guilt fest… where every Black woman who feels guilty about having a few extra pounds feels the need to come out of the woodwork admitting to everyone that she’s got “a few extra pounds” and feels helpless… and then some moron comes out with completely ludicrous “diet” advice… or said “diet” advice is in the actual post. (It’s also usually something to the effect of “work out more, eat less” – eat less of WHAT?) So not only does the original post do nothing to help Black women, but the comments usually result in piss poor advice and guilting of Black women and the perpetuation of poor body image. Shoutout to being the most counterproductive conversations on the Internet. No, really.

The reality is… every time I read one of these moronic blog posts railing Black women for having weight anywhere other than their booties – and don’t let your booty be toooooooo big, lest you be called Precious – the writer makes it evident to me that even if they DID take the time to educate their readers on what they think proper nutrition is… it’d be clear they suffer from the same lack of knowledge as everyone else. Fat or skinny.

Stop mocking Black women with pictures of men masquerading as women in fat suits – is that what you think of us? – and pictures of half naked poorly dressed women. Stop cracking jokes about our health and minimalizing it into issues of being unattractive or needing to “be like white women.” Beneath that “strong Black woman” meme that you insist on thrusting upon us lies a woman who is sensitive, sometimes confused and maybe even – dare I say it? – insecure about her body… and using these women for traffic to your pathetic little blog does nothing for the cause you claim to be so concerned about. Trust me.

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She now lives in New York with her family, and is working on her 4th, 5th and 6th certificates.

82 Comments

  1. MsMathis

    November 11, 2010 at 11:04 AM

    I wish this was Facebook so I could “like” this blog post. Erica, you have a really amazing site and you are great at what you do. I really appreciate your knowledge, and even your sternly worded rants, because they helped change my mindset as it relates to weight loss and eating habits, so thanks!

    From one black girl to another.

    You rock!

    • Erika

      November 11, 2010 at 11:05 AM

      Thank you! :)

  2. Tanya D

    November 11, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    THANK YOU. I could kiss this post and marry it. I’m off to reblog and discuss around the blogosphere. And thank you for calling out that stupid Fresh Express article. I’m still mad about that one.

    • Erika

      November 11, 2010 at 11:09 AM

      The crazy thing is… I’ve seen at LEAST six more spring up. Maybe people realized this is a fast way to get attention. Maybe that $0.35 they’ll make from the extra traffic is just what they needed to pay the rest of the light bill. Who knows, lol.

      Thank you for sharing and supporting, mama. I totally appreciate it.

  3. Madame: The Journey

    November 11, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    I literally let out a sigh of relief, after reading this.

    In the realm of wellness and community outreach/education we need each other to face relative issues. But what we don’t need are external detractors. And that’s exactly what it feels like the majority of those who blatantly mock women of size (and color) out of “concern” on their respective blogs and editorials are doing. If you don’t have anything substantial to offer to the subject, keep it to yourself – until you do.

    • Erika

      November 11, 2010 at 12:51 PM

      What? You mean respect us? How dare you ask so much?

      LOL Girl, you already know.

  4. Keiba

    November 11, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Very well said! You can actually feel the hate from the comments on some of these articles. Where does it come from? Again, great job…you have a new fan!

    • Erika

      November 11, 2010 at 12:58 PM

      A general culture of disrespect, IMO.

      No reason to actually be kind to or considerate of us. We’re “strong.” We “can take it.” [insert eyeroll]

      Screw that.

  5. Eva

    November 11, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    I love this post because it’s so true. Notice how people say, “be thin” and not “be healthy?” Thin does NOT equal healthy by any means.

    When someone asks me why we black women are so fat, I tell them THIS story: I live in Harlem and have for many decades. In the early part of this decade I went to my local Key Food and I asked why there were no veggie burgers there. I had to go to Fairway downtown and buy them. The manager said the people “up here” don’t want them. Flash forward two years and the neighborhood started to become more gentrified, in other words, white people moved in; guess what happened, VEGGIE BURGERS galore, every flavor, every brand. WOW, what happened? See, the manager didn’t think it was worth it to have veggie burgers for just us black people, but roll out the red carpet when the white people show up, you know?

    And let’s not even talk about how I see people leaving my supermarket with shopping bags full of stuff and get into livery cabs, heading across the bridge to the Bronx where there are miles of food deserts.

    • Erika

      November 11, 2010 at 12:57 PM

      “And let’s not even talk about how I see people leaving my supermarket with shopping bags full of stuff and get into livery cabs, heading across the bridge to the Bronx where there are miles of food deserts.”

      Remind me to share my experiences with THIS. Good grief.

      • tdixonspeaks

        August 21, 2011 at 8:52 PM

        Preach!

        Sigh. Delivery from Trader joe to where I live in Harlem is $16.95. I did it once but can’t imagine doing that every month. So, I have a 2 bag max as I hit the subway with my groceries for the week.

        And to Eva – I tried to buy a diet Coke once at a bodega (years ago, don’t do soda anymore) and the guy gave me a blank stare. The owner says to me “You know we don’t drink diet. We don’t purchase it because nobody here drinks it.”

        How bout that.

  6. Eva

    November 11, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    This reminds me of when Jordan Sparks was on American Idol. It was the final two and it was she and a white fellow. Some idiot on Fox News had the nerve to say that she was a bad role model because of her weight? Huh? I wrote Fox News and said that comment was racist AND sexist. Jordan Sparks’ dad played for the NY Giants. I bet they wouldn’t ever call HIM fat.

    This post needs to be circulated. Seriously.

    • Erika

      November 12, 2010 at 9:17 AM

      I remember that! I mean, do we think fat is contagious or something? Anyone who is remotely above a certain size should be quarantined? Heaven forbid we all be represented on the TV screen. LOL

  7. Sarah

    November 11, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Your comments re: Black women and stress brought to mind for me a recent study re: the wealth of single Black women, and the mind-boggling discrepancy between Black women and almost everyone else: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10068/1041225-84.stm

    Add this to the stew of every other kind of external foolishness that Black women have to deal with, and I become overwhelmingly amazed and proud that we as Black women are as wholistically healthy as we are (not negating all the problems that exist and need to be remedied)!

    • Erika

      November 12, 2010 at 9:19 AM

      I feel you, I just wouldn’t use the term “wholistically healthy.” I’d say I’m happy that we’re still standing, because I’d swear sometimes it seems like everyone wants to tear us down.

  8. mari

    November 11, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    i’m not part of the black blogosphere or anything, but you might want to wander over to the primal/paleosphere and read up on the research they reference for a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb (under 200g per day) diet. diet in the sense of ‘what one eats’ not ‘short term weight loss scheme’.

    wholehealthsource.blogspot.com and marksdailyapple.com are two good starting points. they use real research to demolish the myth of the grain-heavy food pyramid and low-fat diets (not supported by data, only ideaology)as healthful.

    you also might want to browse the horror that is pubmed and look at the research showing black women having vitamin d, vitamin k, omega-3 deficiencies far in excess of other populations in the united states. black men suffer from these deficiencies as well, but because of the impacts in infant and maternal mortality, there’s more data specific to black women. there is indirect evidence of other deficiencies, but the three items i just listed are directly linked to diabetes (type 1 and 2), obesity, high blood pressure, prostate cancer, fibroids– and many other things that hit the black community and black women particularly.

    saturated fat and cholesterol are not really the enemy, and eating lots of processed soy or grain-laden ‘veggie burgers’ isn’t terribly healthy long-term, though it is slightly better than the SAD.

    • Erika

      November 11, 2010 at 3:42 PM

      I’m already familiar – I write about it here. A LOT. I’m a big fan of Mark’s.

      This basically highlights my point. As a collective, telling women to lose weight (and implying that “by any means necessary” urgency to it) when they’re not going to be around long enough to enjoy it PERIOD because of all of these vital health concerns…. it’s crass, insensitive and demoralizing. The problem is prevalent enough for people to know someone it affects. At least SEVERAL someones, really.

      Those deficiencies exist because of the typical BAD – Black American diet. Period. I’d bet my shoe collection on it.

    • Dorothy Green

      December 28, 2011 at 3:05 PM

      I read your post and I agree with the finding in your printed statement. Processed high carb fake foods are taking their toll on the health unsuspecting health conscious person. Processed soy burgers are not the answer.

  9. mari

    November 11, 2010 at 7:36 PM

    well, you mark the first black woman blogger i’ve seen who is interested in paleo/primal/weston price whole foods eating. (i haven’t read your blog, this post was linked somewhere in my daily list of blogs). i had seen a couple of black guys, but no women– women in general are not absent from the paleosphere, but certainly it would be nice to see more of them. so i will give your blog a tumble, as more perspectives on whole foods eating are sorely needed in the paleosphere.

    i actually have seen very little in any blogosphere except the paleo/primal folks about the impact of nutrient deficiency and they never look at the racial variances therein.

    • Erika

      November 11, 2010 at 8:35 PM

      Yep! I talk a lot about food from an evolutionary standpoint, but I don’t label it strictly paleo because I’m not strictly paleo… I DO have several paleo commenters, though.

      Thanks a ton for sharing my site – and thanks to the person who brought you here! – and I hope to see you around!

      • Tanisha

        May 15, 2012 at 1:51 PM

        Hi Erika. I see the mini-conversation about paleo/primal/westonprice here and I was wondering. What is your view on fat, and specifically, saturated fat?

        Btw, I’m a black female Weston A. Price-based blogger, so there’s two mari. :)

        Also, Erika, I love your term BAD (Black American Diet). I’m totally going to adopt that!

  10. Tammy

    November 11, 2010 at 7:55 PM

    Thank you, Thank you, and Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am currently 300+ pounds. Down 7 pounds since two week subscribing to your blog and twitter. I am one of those women that get called “precious” on a regular because I am so large But I do not let it kill my joy. I am slowly getting myself in shape and regaining confidence in myself. Straight talk leads to straight understanding. Your blog has taught me so much and I want to thank you for doing what you do. God Bless You. Keep spreading the truth.

    • Erika

      November 12, 2010 at 9:19 AM

      CONGRATULATIONS!!! Keep it going!!!!!

  11. BAnjeeB

    November 11, 2010 at 8:53 PM

    Fan-effin-tastic! Thank you!!

  12. Lyn

    November 11, 2010 at 9:02 PM

    I feel you on the gentrification situation. I have lived in all black neiighborhoods and had the same problems. When I moved in a hip white neighborhood then it’s veggies, organic whole foods as far as the eye can see. I have had serious issues over the years even affording enough food to eat which is also a culprit of our bodies. If your body goes into starvation mode, youre more likely to binge when you do get a chance to eat and your body will get fatter each time it goes through that. If I could afford to eat organic everyday, I’d have lots of energy and I would lose weight much easier. Black women have stressful lives, if you are working 16 to 18 hour days eating right and excersizing becomes way down on the list.

    • Erika

      November 12, 2010 at 9:21 AM

      Yep – it’s an issue of priorities, and sometimes other things DO come first.

      However… we cannot use those as reasons to ignore signs that its time to make changes. We DO have stressful lives, but we MUST take care of ourselves. We are NO good to anyone if we are broken down and beat up. Ever. *big hug*

  13. keisha brown

    November 11, 2010 at 9:21 PM

    tell em why you mad!!
    or in other words…
    #runandtellTHAT

    great post!!!

    • Erika

      November 12, 2010 at 9:21 AM

      Thank you! I just cannot do it, y’all!

  14. N.I.A. naturally

    November 12, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    Great post. I generally try to ignore all blog posts “discussing” the reasons why black women are so fat or why we don’t workout like the white girls at the authors random PWI. Its either absolute ignorance about the subject or plain disrespect and an unwillingness to even attempt to educate yourself. Its sad, really.

    • Erika

      November 12, 2010 at 9:22 AM

      Sounds like you saw one of the posts I was referring to, LOLOL.

  15. Nikita

    November 12, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    Thanks Erika. There is a black women empowerment blogger that I read often who usually – about every 2-3 months go on some kind of obesity charge and I simply don’t read her blog during these times. It honestly never occurs to her that people have prolly done some pretty damaging things to themsleves to lose weight and by doing so made themselves larger or sick. Though I understand her goal, her method for dealing with this particular subject does NOT work for or with me. All the other things you bring up in this post are never considered either and when someone brings them up the answer is to get over it and make it happen anyway. iCan’t. Please keep being the common sense, fact based blogger on this subject. Thanks.

    I am currently losing weight and taking it s-l-o-w. I have harmed myself in the gym, gained weight back plus and everything trying crazy methods and pills. For years. This time I am giving myself TIME to lose the weight and honestly examining my thought processes along the way and changing my habits for the long run. This is better for me because I choose wisely and understand now that I can have anything that I want to eat and I have a responsibility to balance that out with being healthy too. I want the whole package – to be physically in shape and to be healthy. This is NOT for men or others, as admittedly it has been in the past at times, this is for me, my life and my health. This time I am going to do it correctly, get it right and keep it off.

    • Erika

      November 12, 2010 at 10:47 AM

      Kudos to you for taking it slow, and thank you for the kind words! I appreciate them fully! :)

    • Rooo

      July 20, 2011 at 4:28 PM

      “There is a black women empowerment blogger that I read often who usually – about every 2-3 months go on some kind of obesity charge and I simply don’t read her blog during these times. It honestly never occurs to her that people have prolly done some pretty damaging things to themsleves to lose weight and by doing so made themselves larger or sick.”

      I know exactly who you’re talking about … and there’s actually more than one.
      Trying to hide it in that “tough love” mess when it’s really what Erika talks about here in comments – “never mind being kind and compassionate, because we can ‘take it’ and we’re ‘strong”. Ugh.

      (I’d get started on how frequently we Black folks do that hyper-critical, “you need to”, borderline-abusive talking to one another and try to pass it off as some “tough love” BS, but that’s a whole different side rant.)

      And don’t mention that a woman of color might well be “skinny” but because of being beat up by these exact types of messages she might well also be in recovery from an anorexic-spectrum eating disorder, just like the white girls.

      (‘Cause, you know, we Black girls “don’t get” those types of EDs … which I see Erika has also covered here. Make mine a denial-covered eyeroll when folks go off down that path.)

      Or *not* in recovery.

      They really don’t want to hear that.

      Then it’s all about “I’m not dealing with that here/I’m not talking to you/I don’t feel qualified to write about that”.

      Well, if you don’t feel qualified to write about that, maybe not so much to contribute to the problem by ranting on in an accusatory and, yes, mean way that leads people to precisely that?

      But it’s all about the way we Black women look. If we’re thin, then everything is fine. Oh, right. I forgot about that.

      /mini-rant over

  16. ChellBellz

    November 12, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    I remember a friend of mine blogging about black woman being fat, and you posted her article and i remember seeing her follow you and RT all yours stuff after that. I felt like damn…this girl is really going. I get where she was coming from but she had nothing positive to say, or some links in order to help folks out…

    • Erika

      November 13, 2010 at 6:24 PM

      Yep! I remember. I have nothing but kind words for her now, because I know that she IS a supporter and a part of #teambgg2wl. She’s actually cool peeps… was just mad misguided, and that’s okay. It’s not like she was the only one. LOL

  17. Curlstar

    November 12, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    Woooo-sah Erika! Totally on point tho! :-D

    • Erika

      November 13, 2010 at 6:52 PM

      LOL Thank you! I feel great NOW! LOL!

  18. "Mira Luma"

    November 12, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    I love, love, LOVE this piece!! So much so that I e-mailed it to my sister and my friends and re-posted it on my Facebook page.

    In the 90s on internet forums like Black Voices.com, I got so tired of reading how black women are so fat, how we don’t work out or how black women are not seen in the gym or walking or running outside. Um, how about those of us (LIKE ME!) who use Tae-Bo, P90X or some other workout routine at home? And if one lives in a predominantly white area, then those are the people you will see working out the most, which doesn’t mean that black women are NOT working out.

    I’m down 34 pounds with miles to go, and I feel like I can do better because of your blog, Erika. You are one of the best examples that black women CAN and DO workout and take care of themselves. Thanks for being such a supportive, helpful and inspirational person to me and so many others! ♥

    • Erika

      November 13, 2010 at 6:53 PM

      Forget everything else. CONGRATULATIONS!!! :)

  19. Thembi

    November 13, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    **starts a slow clap**
    very necessary. nothing for me to add here.

    • Erika

      November 13, 2010 at 6:56 PM

      LOL! Now, if YOU have nothing more to add? I know I’ve done well. LOL! :)

  20. Merc80

    November 13, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    I think you wouldn’t see as many blog posts about it if the stats and everyday reality didn’t show so many black women as being overweight far ahead of other races and intra-racially. The many of us that DO know the correct information are not sharing it with others. There are still many women who DO make excuses. So we can call some of it ignorance, and some of it laziness. We can call some of it being finger pointing under the microscope, and the other half reality.
    Many Black women are mad for being singled out, but as Black people we single ourselves out. We are the ones that define the beauty standard of thickness, while others don’t. I don’t think we should change it, but she surely can’t act like our difference don’t make us stand out compared to others anyway.
    Yes lots of factors connect to not losing weight, but let’s not act as though EVERY factor applies to every black woman. Some of them need to manage their stress by working out. Some of them need to have healthier diets and they KNOW that.
    I’ve seen many people who DO know the facts and still don’t follow it.
    I’m very tired of it too. So how about we organize and DO something about it?

    • Erika

      November 13, 2010 at 6:01 PM

      None of that has anything to do with what I said. I hope you realize that.

      I don’t know if you’ve been to this site before, but I’m well aware of issues with “sharing resources” and “making excuses.” Browse around a little bit. That’s not new to me.

      There are two points that you and people like you need to take away from this post:

      If you cloak your “reality check” in lines like “We don’t want our women looking like the Michelin man” and “obese Black women look like hippos,” then your whole message is a disaster. That has NOTHING to do with “health.” Not only that, but it’s highly offensive. You want to shame someone into doing what you want them to do. Word? You clearly don’t care how your message is received, because you’re too busy trying to score points by clowning fat chicks. It’s disrespectful to the people you want your message to reach [supposedly], and it basically makes you look like an insensitive jerk.

      Secondly, if YOU cannot address ALL of the reasons why women face these issues, YOU shouldn’t be shaming them about the RESULT of these issues. How are you going to tell me “let’s not act like every factor applies to every Black woman?” Did you ask ANY Black woman before you set fingers to keys? YOU don’t know why that 70% is overweight, any more than THEY know… and when they figure it out, it won’t be because some blog post on the Internet shamed them into doing so.

      Seriously, the fact that you commented as if you were going to set straight the reason why you (and approximately six other individuals) wrote the garbage you wrote, all following the standard “crack jokes on overweight girls, get serious for a minute and talk about how to change, go back to cracking a joke or two, hit ‘em with the coup de gras ending line” formula…. is hilarious to me.

      And even still, it’s not more hilarious than “so how about we organize and DO something about it?” as if anyone would “organize” with a man who wrote a post shaming Black women and mocking their perceptions of themselves, clowned them about their looks and then cloaked it in a conversation about their health, used phrases like “Michelin man” and then claimed to not know or understand what Black women go through in regards to body image. You don’t know enough to “organize” with anyone, and I say that with as much love as I can muster. That’s real.

      • Rooo

        July 20, 2011 at 4:32 PM

        “If you cloak your “reality check” in lines like “We don’t want our women looking like the Michelin man” and “obese Black women look like hippos,” then your whole message is a disaster. That has NOTHING to do with “health.” Not only that, but it’s highly offensive. You want to shame someone into doing what you want them to do. Word? You clearly don’t care how your message is received, because you’re too busy trying to score points by clowning fat chicks. It’s disrespectful to the people you want your message to reach [supposedly], and it basically makes you look like an insensitive jerk.

        Secondly, if YOU cannot address ALL of the reasons why women face these issues, YOU shouldn’t be shaming them about the RESULT of these issues. How are you going to tell me “let’s not act like every factor applies to every Black woman?” Did you ask ANY Black woman before you set fingers to keys? YOU don’t know why that 70% is overweight, any more than THEY know… and when they figure it out, it won’t be because some blog post on the Internet shamed them into doing so.”

        Woo-sah. You better preach, Erika.

  21. Deltra Coyne

    November 13, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    BRAVO! What a great post, and thank you for pointing out nutrition which is so important to physical health, body weight AND emotional health (my personal bailiwick). Keep up the good work, we so desperately need to hear your message.

    • Erika

      November 13, 2010 at 6:55 PM

      Thank you, mama! Here’s to hoping we all heal healthily and happily in the end! :)

  22. Official

    November 13, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    People can keep living in LaLa land if they want to but the black blogosphere pointing out reality isn’t the problem. It’s people browsing the internet on their self-healthy righteous pedestals condemning them too. Who only talk about what to do and try to dictate how people should feel instead of really DOING something about it. Blogging is just preaching to choirs. I bet Merc would be quicker to hit the streets than anyone who had a problem with what he said would.

    • Erika

      November 13, 2010 at 8:46 PM

      Hi, Bri!! How are you, baby? I’m SO glad you’re still here. LOL

      If “Merc” would be quicker to hit the streets than anyone who had a problem with what he said would, he’d be WAY more cognizant of the problem, instead of posting “OMG, I soooo didn’t know [insert problem]” all over the Internet.

      And for the record, you don’t know WHERE I speak, WHO I work with or HOW I do what I do… unless, you’re still getting bad information about me. Aw… pobrecita. (That’s a hint.)

      You just gonna keep coming back and trying to start drama, right? You’re so cute. LOL Glad you’re still here, Bri! Take it easy! :)

      • Merc80

        November 14, 2010 at 12:31 AM

        Erika- A woman sent me the link here today. After a back and forth with her, she said I still “don’t get it”. I came back to re-read because I wanted to understand more, and now I see your reply to me.
        I get it now. I should’ve seen it earlier.
        You’re Queen Erika, and what you say goes.

        There’s no “cloaking” in my post. I said it was about obesity and attractiveness from jump. I also said it doesn’t apply to every black woman. I’ve never heard anyone outside of Black culture use the term “meat on the bones” to describe what’s attractive. Now, if you think health and attractiveness aren’t connected, then we’ll agree to disagree.

        If any of my information was false, then the reader can hit Google to research it and make decisions on their own. Or they could come here.

        What I see in THIS post is someone cloaking her insecurities and saying “Look how Diva I am” by manipulating a false sense of empowerment to women, as if you’re going to bat and fighting those who don’t understand their plight. Really, you’re dis-empowering them by listing a bunch of factors they can use to excuse themselves. If the factors you listed are problems, then what are your solutions? I’m offering to organize against them, you’re denying me.

        I’m allowed to comment on what I like on MY website just like you are on this site of yours.
        And if it seems like 6 people wrote that post, thank you, that’s a hell of a compliment :-)

        If you want to hinge my entire outlook on choice sentences, nor read my follow-up post (which included an apology) that’s fine. If a majority of black women have body image/psychological issues, then there should be a massive effort to get all women regular access to counseling. But hey, you’re the expert. Your personal journey is every black woman’s journey. You’re a qualified nutritionist, psychologist…oh wait, no you’re not. You’re a regular person, like me, giving out “facts” you come across.

        And trust me, I’m trying to be as sensitive as I can right now. I mean, since you’re a black woman, I should tread lightly with everything I say before I make you cry in your pillow…right?

        If you were quicker to take help where it was offered instead of debating, then maybe you wouldn’t be so “tired”. When you’re ready to take your diva crown off, let me know if we can do something together. I don’t hold grudges when it comes to the bigger picture.

        • Erika

          November 14, 2010 at 5:37 AM

          “I get it now. I should’ve seen it earlier. You’re Queen Erika, and what you say goes.”

          Awww, that’s cute. Now it’s about ME. I’m a “diva,” I’m “unqualified,” I’m “disempowering women (?!),” I’m “wearing a crown” and now I’m “debating” instead of helping. Dang, who would’ve thought that everything I’ve done with this site thus far – every post I’ve written every single day of this site – could be undone because one dude didn’t like what I said about a topic he (and others) blogged about? Hurt feelings abound, indeed.

          “If the factors you listed are problems, then what are your solutions?”

          You did enough digging around to find out that I’m not a “qualified nutritionist,” just “a regular person – like you – giving out facts you come across” but didn’t do enough digging to realize that I’ve talked about all of this stuff? Provided resources? Links to studies, books, and almost all of the information that taught me what *I* know?

          Seriously? C’mon, son. I’m not doing your homework for you. LOL. My “credentials” aren’t a mystery. My credentials are no different from LOTS of well-known wellness bloggers who have learned enough to share, as well as being living proof of the benefits of their knowledge. It’s so interesting that you believe it requires medical intervention – a qualified nutritionist, even – for someone to know what to eat. If anything, that’s more indicative of “the problem” than anything else… ESPECIALLY considering Blacks and health care. [insert blank stare] Did YOU think about that? Or were you too busy trying to figure out how to insult me and poke holes in whatever visage you’ve applied to me?

          I cannot believe that you’re still missing the point. Like, I have a hard time with the idea of continuing this back-and-forth with you because you so blatantly miss the point. And then you pretty much come back and call me a “diva” for holding YOUR feet to the fire? That’s so cute. No, really. It’s not about anything else. It’s about me. Word? Word. And you “apologized?” C’mon, dude.

          This isn’t about MY journey being every Black woman’s journey. There are MANY wellness bloggers who have realized the problem with weight and health in America, and write [blogs AND books] about ridding themselves of them. I’ve done interviews, shows, magazine articles, calendars, radio spots because the facts that *I* have come across have given ME my life back. It’s not every Black woman’s journey, but it’s the journey of ENOUGH AMERICANS that it warrants conversation. Sensitive, informed conversation. And if MY presence in the conversation can help MORE, then I’m here. This idea that you’re implying that we should not help a FEW until we can help ALL is ironic. From the sounds of your post (and the other blog posts that I saw), you’d think that one less “fat chick” in your face would make y’all happy.

          “And trust me, I’m trying to be as sensitive as I can right now. I mean, since you’re a black woman, I should tread lightly with everything I say before I make you cry in your pillow…right?”

          You’re talking to ME, not a giant collective who deserves our sensitivity about a topic they likely neither understand nor have the means to change. For every woman who “knows and doesn’t care” about her weight, there are ten who have no idea. Treating them all like they’re some carelessly lazy monolith and mocking them in the process IS disrespectful, and you should know better… as hopefully displayed in your apology post.

          But since you’re talking to me specifically and not them, I’ve gotta tell ya – from what I’ve seen, there isn’t enough about you to make me care what you think of me, love. In fact, the back and forth in your comment, the irony, the self-negation… LOL I just can’t.

          I’m glad you don’t hold grudges when it comes to the bigger picture, especially since you clearly cannot see it. Actually, I’m giggling a bit (inappropriately, even) because I just remembered one of my favorite quotes, from Pynchon: ‘If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.’

          I guess if you get me talking about ME, you don’t have to worry about me talking about YOU and your SORELY misguided attempt (repeated attempts?) at dialogue. Look at you – insulting ME, then trying to compel me to “organize” with you. The fact that you STILL think this is a successful path is FURTHER proof that you don’t get it and your apology is probably of the “my mother is holding my ear and won’t let go until I say this” ilk. I care not to read it, or much more from you, to be honest. And since you’ll – undoubtedly – be back to continue trying to throw that little bit of shade you think you’ve got, I’ll just tell you now – this is a back-and-forth I have NO desire to continue, ESPECIALLY when this is how your side of the conversation has degraded itself. “It’s not about me being wrong, even though I ‘apologized’ – it’s about you being an insecure little diva!”

          LOLOL Good luck with that. [hands you a 4-leaf clover… ’cause you’ll need it]

          • deewhy?

            December 25, 2011 at 2:13 PM

            fantastic cite….fabulous post…Don’t like queens? go way…on this blog they er’where…

            “shame” hmmm….all black people/women need to cure what ails us/them is more “shame”…shame breeds nothing, but pain and destruction to self and/or others…

            my observation of this cite is that it offers substantiated information, empathy and support to “anyone” who wants to focus on health and sound nutrition…and thank goodness it offers an often overlooked perspective on so much more…

            gotta say…i love that you so adeptly chewed up the troll and spat him out…but i hope you don’t afford another moment of your precious time to him…too much important stuff to talk about…like how can i make “sexy ranch”, if i can’t find buttermilk, no where?

          • Erika Nicole Kendall

            December 26, 2011 at 10:48 AM

            LMAO! Love this comment!

            If you can’t find buttermilk, you’ve got to make your own, baby. Sounds like another blog topic. *adds that to the list*

  23. Thembi

    November 14, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    What kind of person continues to read a blog when they think blogging is “preaching to choirs”?

    Girl, bye.

    • Erika

      November 14, 2010 at 4:07 AM

      Especially when they came here – in the first place – because they wanted information they didn’t have? [insert shrug] Some choir, LOL.

  24. Tanya D

    November 14, 2010 at 7:49 AM

    I think Merc80 needs an appointment with a clue bat ASAP. I wondered how long until trolls and fools started to pour into this post.

    Oh well, Haters gon’ Hate and you’ll keep rollin.

    • Erika

      November 14, 2010 at 8:03 AM

      LOL@ clue bat. I’ma be nice and say he (and Bri) are just new to “this” – “this” being health/wellness/weight loss blogs – and instead of just reading and putting forth earnest effort to participate, they’d rather throw shade and tear down. You can’t do much for those types until they have their own “come to” moment. We’ll be here when they do.

      Perhaps we should be #teamdiva, not #teambgg2wl? LOL!

  25. huny

    November 14, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    this entry is the truth. this huge influx of “black women lemme tell you what’s wrong with you” blog posts, books, news stories and symposiums are tripe at this point. dehumanizing black women is the topic du jour.

    anyway, please get this kat out the comments; I’m actually cringing at how bootyhurt he is. heads who are insecure in their message always jump to the same tired tactics when they get schooled – it’s ‘internet 101′: insult them when you have no point.

    he CLEARLY didn’t do his research on you, erika, or read up on your phenomenal and empowering journey. everything he’s written is just a lazy attempt to hide his contempt for black women who aren’t the right amount of “thick” to him. wowzers.

    “merc80″: nobody cares, dude. take your faux concern and wompmonster tactics and holla back when you have a community 8,000+ strong like erika does.

    • Erika

      November 14, 2010 at 11:53 AM

      LOL Wait – so does this mean that I can’t be a diva? *looks up and watches crown disappear in a cloud of smoke*

      It was fun while it lasted. Back to reality, I guess. Oh, wait.

      Wowzers indeed, girl. SMH

    • Thembi

      November 14, 2010 at 12:32 PM

      bootyhurt…wompmonster
      *dead*

    • deewhy?

      December 25, 2011 at 2:18 PM

      well said

  26. CanSeeClearly

    November 14, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    Erika,

    I really really want to thank you for this post. I have been struggling with this my entire life. People don’t understand how ineffective humiliation is-all I developed from it was a severe eating disorder. And for some reason people don’t know what to do with fat, Black bulimics.

    Please know that you have an important message, I’m tired of being looked at like a problem instead of a person.

    • Erika

      November 14, 2010 at 12:20 PM

      *big hug* Thank you for sharing that – please know that you are not the only woman who’s admitted this to me. *even bigger hug*

      Thank you for the kind words, you’ll never know how much they’re appreciated. :)

  27. Nyc

    November 14, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    Thank you for this. I will be glad to share it.

  28. Maisha

    November 14, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    As always, your posts get right to the heart of the matter. Straight – no chaser. I responded on Twitter so I won’t write it all here :)

  29. Kimvannie

    November 15, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    Very good points loving your site just found it.

  30. Kim

    November 16, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    I must bring you my tithes AND offerings for this post. THANK YOU, ERIKA!

  31. Carol

    November 16, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Thank you SO much for this post. On point, as always! People think making fun of and humilating obese people is hysterical. Especially when it comes down to black women.

  32. Jen

    November 17, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    I’ll be honest, I don’t know what it’s like to be an overweight black woman. But I DO know what it’s like to be a (slightly) overweight white woman, and although I know this is a blog primarily for weight issues of black women, I had to comment. Just from what I’ve read from you, black men prefer thick women, and what is “thick” and sexy on black women by black men is considered fat and gross on white women by white men. It isn’t right, but it’s true. So while black men are obviously STILL judging black women, I *think* a higher weight is more accepted by them than white men. Perhaps that’s why so many of us suffer from eating disorders.

    • Erika

      November 17, 2010 at 12:30 PM

      No worries, mama.. all are welcome here. Frank discussion that sometimes involves race, but always aims to dig deeper. :)

      Don’t get me wrong – there is more “acceptance” among the Black community, but I think that has more to do with the fact that there is an understanding that we’re built differently. Not sure if that’s genetic, cultural or if it’s because white women have been marginalized into struggling to look Victoria’s Secret-skinny… but it’s definitely worth nothing.

  33. Janna

    November 17, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    There are just as many fat, and I mean FAT white women as Black women, don’t let anyone delude you into believing otherwise.

    As for those that try and degrade you, rise above, but more importantly, be an INFLUENCE. Media is now very fluid. Use if to your advantage, and no one else’s. Selfish. Perhaps, but it’s always been done that way, except the others were the ones benefiting.

  34. Pingback: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” — The Sojourner's Passport

  35. Lorrie

    February 2, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    Go girl! I need to add nothing to that.

  36. Tasha

    June 24, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    Thank you….I nearly was in tears after reading this. You basically wrote what I felt when I would read these types of articles.
    Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

  37. Zoe

    July 18, 2011 at 10:34 PM

    Racio-misogyny …who needs it?!? Stand up ladies: feminism and self love is starting to grow in leaps and bounds.

  38. Paulette

    December 23, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Go on girl and preach. This is what I needed to read now and read again on the 1st to commit myself to losing the final 30 lbs. Thank you for dedication to something you clearly have the passion and skills for. Well said!

  39. Matthew

    April 17, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    I’m sorry, but I see nothing wrong with talking about the issue of obesity as it pertains to black women. As a black man living here in New Orleans, I can tell you firsthand that obesity is a CHOICE.

    I grew up in poverty. I grew up without access to the supermarkets available in many white neighborhoods. Still, my family made a conscious choice to cook the right foods and exercise. I have nothing against obese people. We are all human at the end of the day.

    But I’m a little tired of black women getting defensive whenever the issue of weight is brought up…especially in light of the fact that they choose to be that way.

    • Erika Nicole Kendall

      April 18, 2012 at 10:43 AM

      Oh, you see nothing wrong?

      Let’s start with JUST AS MANY Black men are overweight as there are Black women.

      Let’s also follow that up with obesity might’ve been a choice YOUR family turned down, but not every family – Black or otherwise – has the tools or knowledge to make that choice. And, before you follow up with “but the Internet!!!!11!1ONE”, remind yourself that for every blog out there like mine, there are forty out there selling magic booty elixir to “make weight just fly right out of you.”

      Black women are defensive about their weight being brought up because if you actually cared about them, instead of simply wanting to mock them and make them feel shame – because, apparently, you cannot lovingly encourage them to live healthier and work out more – then you wouldn’t treat them like dogs who need to be whacked with a newspaper for misbehaving. You’d talk to them like human beings with emotions.

      Men always want us to massage their egos when it comes to their tiny dicks, poor bedroom performance, inability to provide for their families… and women do it because they love you. Women want consideration of their emotions…men tell them to “stop being defensive.”

      Get the f out of here.

      • Pat Rice

        January 21, 2013 at 3:46 AM

        Nope, I was going to ask Matthew what he considers ‘fat’ but I won’t. The tipping point for fat is totally different in each community. A white woman who is 5’6 and 145lbs may consider herself fat…while I think this weight is perfect for me (a black woman). Erica is dead on target in her response, there are just as many overweight black men out here but we don’t berate them publically or compare them to men of other races. OUR community as a whole needs to make healthier choices, what we don’t need is folks like you shaming us.

  40. Cassandra

    January 21, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Thank you so much for this article. I can’t tell you how many times people (especially family) have tried to make me feel “less than” because of my weight. It’s devastating. I’ve also noticed how negatively we’re portrayed in the media. Why is it always the “big, angry black woman”? I started making my girls count the times that they see positive portrayals of black girls on the popular teen shows that they watch. I can tell you from experience, there is hardly any at all. It’s as if mass media has taken a vow to never show us in a positive way. Even the commercials. One day, for the length of an hour long show, I made my children count the number of times they saw a black woman in a commercial. We saw absolutely none. Plenty of black men but no one that looked like us. My oldest daughter said, she really started noticing that every time a black man had a partner in a commercial, she was always a white woman. I asked her how it made her feel. She said she felt like the world wanted us to be invisible. I don’t mean to go off on a tangent. But your article just brought some things that have been inside my heart to the forefront. Thank you for not being afraid to say what we are all thinking and feeling.

  41. Kami

    August 2, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    Double tap to this article.

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