Q: I came across your website I think from looking at the Black Web Awards. I really enjoy what you have to say (I am even following it on Facebook)and I just had a question for you. I think I know the answer but I wanted to get your opinion anyways. I am someone who used to workout pretty religiously, but over the years gained too much weight after stop hitting the gym in the manner that I used to. I
I am curious as to how do you feel that your blog could be or should be followed by men? I am not asking you to change what you are doing, again I love your site, and have even forwarded it to a few women friends who are lose weight, yet are not black women (by the way they love your site too).
So in short, do you think men such as me can be just as successful as you taking in what you say and do?
I actually really appreciate this question, because I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach this subject for a while. This question pretty much just gave me an easy way in.
The short answer is yes, men can be just as successful by following basic principles of clean eating and increased activity levels as I or any other women. The long answer is a little more complex, I think, so I figured I’d at least give you a cheat sheet. Yes, yes you can.
I started this blog – and named it as such – because of an experience I had in the gym in 2009, where a Latino was discussing with two Latinas about how he lost 29lbs (yet, he admitted to not being able to keep it off and his weight was increasing over the years.) He talked about how their culture contributed to their weight gain, how social stigmas affected the amount of responsibility he felt to be fit as a “strong Latino” and how he had to work hard to overcome that… and advised those women to do the same. His conversation started out in Spanish, until he saw me trying to decipher it and went on in English to include me.
The blog is A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss because I am, in fact, a Black woman. There are things in America (I cannot speak on any other country, I’m sorry to say) that I face, as a Black woman, that happen to me because I am Black. There are things that happen to me because I am a woman. And, quite frankly, there are things that happen to me because I am a Black woman. The place where the two of these painfully important characteristics intersect is the place where my experiences come from. It’s “girl” as opposed to “woman” simply because “girl” is casual speak.
My culture puts pressure on me to think a certain way, act a certain way, look a certain way because of those characteristics. The choice to buck those things for my betterment is a difficult one. The choice to dismiss “thickness” (which is defined differently in each region) for fitness – even though your culture tells you that you’ll never get a man – is a difficult one. The choice to change how you live your life – even though you run the risk of having your Black card revoked – is tough.
In my opinion, all cultures may not be the same, but cultural pressure to conform is the same across the board. Deciding to remove or change parts of your culture feels insulting to the people who live and enjoy it. You’re tacitly implying that they way they’re living is wrong – otherwise, why would it need changing? – and it’s pretty much an all-out request to have your way of living attacked.
I mean, looking at the situation with the Latinos earlier… while I couldn’t relate to his struggles as a man, I could still understand that there are pressures put on me because of my gender. They’re different, but they’re there. While I couldn’t relate to their struggles as Latinos, specifically with their traditional foods, I could relate in the sense that there are foods in my culture that might need a little work. Sure, there are/were a lot of tips that he gave about working out and eating in general that were applicable to everyone, but the deeper it goes, the more you begin to dive into your differences.
Do I think that men can benefit from something here? Absolutely. Do I think that persons of other cultures could benefit from something here. No doubt about it. I don’t even think that all Black women could relate to everything I write, and that’s okay too. We aren’t a complete monolith. But it absolutely does help to talk about these things, instead of pretending they don’t matter.
That being said… everyone is welcome here. Come in, take what you can use, and leave the rest behind. Oh, and don’t forget to bring good food. We love food, here.