Home BeautyBody Image Sound Off: “A Size 0 is Nothing to Be Proud Of For a Black Woman”

Sound Off: “A Size 0 is Nothing to Be Proud Of For a Black Woman”

by Erika Nicole Kendall

I need to spark a little bit of a debate, because I’m confused, here.

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On a post about Jennifer Hudson reportedly being a “size 0,” the following sentence was left within a comment:

Either way a size 0 is nothing to be proud of if you are a black woman, god just did not design our body to naturally be a size 0.

I have questions, and I need to understand.

The #bgg2wlarmy is large enough that y’all contain some fairly diverse opinions. That being said, I need us to tease this out.

Should women be “proud” of a certain size? And, conversely, should women feel shame for a certain size?

(Does it strike anyone as odd that only women are attacki– never mind.)

I can’t even ask any more questions, because I’m just so confused. Get in the comments with me, because I need to figure out what, exactly, is making my hair standing on end. (And y’all know how much hair I have.)

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@Curvy_Jones September 17, 2013 - 12:13 PM

But…when JHud was a big girl, sangin’ her behind off, she ‘needed to drop some weight…. so… ???

I’m constantly torn between the too fat and the too thin contingent. Black women are ‘built’ to have hips, butt and a generous chest. ‘Don’t no black man want a twig, better put some meat on them bones.’

But not too much meat, because ‘girl, you know all black women are fat, that’s why the brothers go for others, they know how to take care of themselves.’

A. I f 0 is where jHud wants to be, then 0 is where it’s at for her. Her fiance doesn’t seem to be complaining and she looks pretty darn happy.

B. Before I lost weight, I was unhappy. I was not ‘proud’ to be an 18-22 because I hated how that looked o me. BUT. If you’re HAPPY at that size? Heck yeah. Let your pride show.

Because really, folks are gonna have something to say no matter what size you are.

Erika Nicole Kendall September 17, 2013 - 12:16 PM

But where does this COME from? There’s only one way to be as a woman?

Don’t people realize that this idea of a superior size is pretty damned similar to the idea that there’s a superior ideal of beau– you know what, I’m sleep. Never mind.

Alisa September 17, 2013 - 12:20 PM

I started my journey in a size 16/18. A year later, I’m a size 8/10. I feel phenomenal, while some women I know would be mortified in a size 10, and some women I know and work with as their coach want nothing more than to get down to a 16. I think it’s all a matter of personal preference and what feels good to you, even though media would have us think otherwise.

Tina Warren September 17, 2013 - 12:35 PM

I’d like to know on what authority they know what’s God’s design intentions were, for any women of any race. IME, women of all colors come in all shapes and sizes, even at their body’s most healthy weight.

Mrs. Newton September 17, 2013 - 12:43 PM

I have no idea why women are so critical towards each other. It’s sad. What happened to celebrating each other? Perhaps the reason why we are so hard on each other pertaining to body type and looks is because the competition for men’s attention is never ending?? Idk. I’m just guessing. I can’t come up with anything else Erika. I’m the dork that is crying and shouting for joy when a family member or friend loses weight and finally overcomes…regardless of my own weight gain. I find it pointless and really silly to hate on the next woman.

Anyhoo…This is terrible. Regardless of what any of our personal preferences are for body type, JHud looks CONFIDENT and HAPPY. That is reason enough to celebrate!

niksmit September 17, 2013 - 12:47 PM

Before I get into sizes and pride (I’m going to leave God out of this), I didn’t know that every Black woman shared the same body type. This Is New Information!

I’ve been Black all of my life. I am not a size, but I’ve worn sizes 00-6 during my three decades here. It all depends on who’s putting the tags in the clothing that day it seems, because I’ve been within the same 10 lb. weight range (~1″ in measurements’ range) for about 15 years.

On to pride, I didn’t feel any in my body as an adolescent because I’m not thick and it seemed I couldn’t get any attention from the boys back in the day as a slender girl. I did some inner work and got over it on the way out of my teens. As an adult, I have a little pride in my body, but not a lot because it’s mostly genetics. I take some care of my body, but not a great deal–I can do better.
Jennifer Hudson, on the other hand, seems to have put a lot work into obtaining and maintaining the body she has now, so why shouldn’t she be proud of her accomplishments?

#icant with this foolishness

Mariana September 17, 2013 - 12:48 PM

I’m not sure if it’s the number on the tag or the access you are granted because you are at a certain size. A size 16 for me means I no longer have to spend more for plus sized clothes (as in the sizes with a “W” or a plus store), I can walk into a regular clothing section and find something to wear. And as much as that makes me feel good because it’s more convenient for me, I’m not happy that it was such a struggle before at a 20 to make clothing work (on a limited budget). Because my only options used to be the 1 rack at Target with plus-sized clothes or the pricier options like Lane Bryant, I felt like I was failing at life. Now, mainstream fashion has me beaming with pride that because I can [almost] shop anywhere but I struggle with this internally because it’s make me feel as though my self-worth and value has also changed. And I’m not even talking about single-digit sizes, I may never see those in my closet and I’m ok with that. But I live in a sort of purgatory now: trying to love my body for what it is while also making sure I never have to go back to a size that will limit my options for where I can shop and how much I have to spend. Size does matter with regard to access. Don’t get me wrong, my #1 priority is just to be healthy and fit but the privilege that comes with it are hard for some to ignore, even me.

coffeeandfingernails September 17, 2013 - 12:50 PM

There are two pieces to this, both equally infuriating to me. There’s the One Size is the THE Size thing which…no. Then there’s the Black Women are an army of identical zombies thing–as if all and only black women have a particular body type (it’s appropriate that she wrote that “god did not design our BODY” a particular way–you know, that one body we all share). All women come in all shapes and sizes.

Jazelle September 17, 2013 - 1:00 PM

This is ridiculous. Not all women are “built” to be a certain size. I am anywhere between a size 0 and 3, depending on how the clothes are made. Should I be ashamed of that? I have tried for years to gain weight in a healthy manner, but I guess it’s just not meant to be.

Dominique September 17, 2013 - 1:03 PM

Comments like these are what leads to some women feeling they need to go to hotel rooms for booty shots (and other procedures). She completely missed the boat. It’s about being happy with yourself regardless of your size and being healthy. If you’re healthiest at a size 12, great! But if someone else is healthiest at a 0, that’s also great! I cannot stand people like that commenter. It comes from the same hateful place as people who fat shame. Body shaming in general is NEVER okay.

Lissa September 17, 2013 - 1:06 PM

Here’s my two cents on the issue. Being Latina I’ve heard that kind of talk all of my life. When you aspire to be anything smaller than a size 12 you will get grief. However, I feel that you cannot generalize based on a person’s ethnicity what size they can or cannot be, everyone has a different body type and it may not conform to what people feel is “the norm”. This reminds me of my cousins making fun of a Latina for not having “an ass” or “hips”. Seriously, I just say let that person be. If they are happy and healthy, then who cares what size they are?

nadia September 17, 2013 - 1:24 PM

I am not so sure about the cliche that black women are built to be a certain size anyway. I dance as a serious hobby and study club dancing. My teachers show us a lot of clips of club dances from days of old. These were not people who spent all day at a dance studio and dieted all their lives. They went out a few times a weel and danced. What I notice is that the women were pretty much shaped the same as all women of that era (40’s, 50’s). Their behinds were not even that large actually. So, I feel the shape of contemporary black women althogh affected by genetics, is basically a function of lifestyle and changes in society and in the food availaable to us.

Reecie September 17, 2013 - 4:38 PM

this is a great point. back in those days what was considered a “brickhouse” is NOT what’s considered one now. it has a lot do with the food we consume now and lifestyle like you said.

Kera Dean September 17, 2013 - 2:38 PM

As far as I’m concerned to each his/her own. I was a size 18/20 @ 230 pounds. Started my healthy life style journey and now I’m a size 12/14 @ 168 pounds and I’m excited. Lots of people have said that I lost TOOO much weight or I looked better with the weight. These are the same people who said that you need to lose weight girlllll.

I just decided that I will get healthy for myself and ignore the noise in the market. I think J Hud looks fabulous.

Amber September 17, 2013 - 3:10 PM

Do I feel some women who were not meant to be a size 0? Absolutely. To say all black women are not meant to be a size 0 is a bit ridiculous. This kind of thinking is what keeps people overweight and eating unhealthy. Sure, it may be a cultural norm for Black women to not be a size 0, but I don’t believe that necessarily means it’s biologically the case.

And even if it were, lets us not forget that the marjority us have all sorts of races/ethnicities in our lineage and who’s to say that a person didn’t inherit the genetic predisposition for higher metabolism/lower weight from a great great great grandmother, who happened to be, I don’t know, Chinese.

Candace September 17, 2013 - 8:24 PM

I don’t think that it is right to judge her. If she is healthy and happy at a size 0 then let her be she looks very well. In addition I do agree that different body structures support different weights. I think that the medical doctors have an idea of this, but they haven’t created the right chart for black women yet. The charts say due to my height I should weigh only 100 pounds. I don’t agree with this as being the healthy weight for me, but with eating right and loosing the weight in a healthy manner ( not fad dieting) I am on to the right track. I have lost about 40 pounds and want to loose 10 to 15 more. I couldn’t see myself much thinner than that. I think that the specifics are all personal preference as long as your are healthy. #makinghealthychoices

Nijah J September 17, 2013 - 8:32 PM

Body image, a woman’s weight and our relationship with food is such a touchy issue. If a woman is a size 0, maybe it’s her body structure and not that she starved herself to get there.

JC September 17, 2013 - 9:12 PM

I don’t care about that size 0. She isn’t me, isn’t worried about me, and isn’t doing anything for me. Let her be.

Charlese September 17, 2013 - 10:21 PM

That’s just ignorant. Not every woman of African descent is meant to be large. Some are naturally petite and thin. They may not be in the majority in this country but they exist. The idea were all supposed to be big bootied, sassy talking, pack mules will destroy us if we let it . Sigh…

Lina September 17, 2013 - 11:15 PM

I think its a hard things for a black women. We’re never enough for each other. We’re too fat, too thin, too tall, to muscular, not muscular enough, too ignorant, too everything. Bodywise you can’t make everyone happy. If JHud is happy at her size 0 and making that Weight Watchers money, good for her.

marie September 18, 2013 - 8:37 AM

Crab in a barrel syndrome maybe?

I don’t know, I have never understood that. People should be grateful to be healthy, alive, human period. It’s like the proud to be black motto that people keep saying nowadays, what’s the point? Should the other feel ashamed for not being Black?

And it is nobody’s business what you are proud of or not.

When they see that you are doing something different from the “norm” (ie. their own environment and what they are used to see) and that you obviously enjoy it, it makes you happy and you look happy – this is weird for them.
They feel judge by the choices you have made. I am not sure that it’s only women, men also tend to have this kind of remarks (“don’t look too bony, women SHOULD have flesh”)
And then as if by magic, people become nutritionist, health expert, psychologist (or not) and even financial advisors in some cases in order to show YOU the right way!

I won’t say that it always come from jealousy, sometimes it’s lack of tolerance for difference, or fear of the difference, ignorance (if your environment consist of a certain type of people, culture, rules etc and you never bothered and/or coulnd’t see anything else, then it becomes your reality, and your norm), it can also be the cultural “heritage” also transmitted by the media. Here in France, they launched some years ago a black barbie, and let me tell you, she was heavier, her feet wider… cause you know all black people have this physical pattern… *sigh
Everyone told us that because we are black we are different kind of human being, and few people bothered to challenge this (few people bother to challenge anything by the way) so the same old ideas (from slavery i’m sure) keeps being reproduced. You know I’m black… I should see a black skin doctor my black skin is so specific, only a black doctor can deal with it. I’m still waiting for someone telling me they need a black doctor to cure their flu…

My concern is: OK you are having this kind of BS statement but if someone tells you it’s wrong and prove it to you, do you change your mind?
My answer in most of the cases from my personal and little experience they rarely do…

It’s a long road Erika, really long

PS: sorry for the long rant.. and you might find some typos..

Tabbitha1968 September 18, 2013 - 11:43 AM

I personally do not care what size JHud or any other celebrity is. I am happy for her and anyone else who chooses to eat healthy. Every individual on this planet is unique (check the fingerprint) we were made in a variety of shades and sizes unique to us all. That being said, we have to learn not to bash each other but celebrate the skin we are in and perpetuate happy confident women no matter what color, creed or shape.

Kami September 18, 2013 - 12:02 PM

Black women are not all monolothic. Women come in all shape and sizes. Where did that person get that idea. These stereotypes about black and latina women’s bodies are frustarting.

Kami September 18, 2013 - 12:05 PM

I meant “frustrating”

Shon September 22, 2013 - 2:11 PM

This is not true. I have worn a size 0 from 14 until 19 years old. I had a small chest and my waist was a 21,but my hips and butt was another story. I’m a 16 now,but I’m in process of losing the weight to get to a size that will make me happy. 12 will make me happy. I never want to be 0-5 again it was a pain finding clothes to fit without altering.

Lisa September 22, 2013 - 7:03 PM

Yet another box created for the black woman to fit in to. Despite there being no intellectual basis for such a statement, it is spewed like beer at a Oktoberfest. Some clothes I wear are a zero. I eat healthy. I workout. I have curves and I wear a zero. It is my body make up. Period.

Gail September 23, 2013 - 3:49 PM

Ahhhh, they just keep us hoodwinked, don’t they?

I believe it IS about “a certain size” claiming superiority. I’ve been around a lonnnnnnngggg time and I’ve watched clothes (and shoe) sizes change to “boost” our egos. They wish to sell us their wares and will tell us anything to do so.

JH is size 0 because some manufacturer put that size on her clothes. How do I know this? Because I weigh 116 pounds and I do NOT wear size 0…

Mrs.Blev November 25, 2013 - 2:57 PM

It seems like society is moving away from “fat shaming” to “skinny shaming”. Now women who are thin (for whatever reason, genetics or lifestyle) are criticized. This comment made think of a quote I saw in a magazine not too long ago. The quote was “your body is someone else’s ideal body”. This really resonated with me because I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I have compared myself to others and wished for the curvaceous figures other black women have. I have always had a very full bust, but my hips and bum do not resemble what society says a “black woman’s” figure should look like. It wasn’t until this past year, when I started exercising regularly and eating right, instead of dieting, that I began to feel good about my body. Instead of focusing solely on a particular size or number on the scale, I now focus on building strength, losing fat, how I feel and accomplishing my fitness goals. I have lost over 25 pounds and I feel amazing. I also have to say, that as a result of a whole lotta squats, lunges and kickbacks I am building a nicer bum, I know I will never have the stereotypical “black woman’s “butt, and that’s ok with me, you have to work with what God has given you. No group of women all have the same type of physiques, and I wish we would get away from this myth. We need to put more focus on being healthy, the message that black women are “thick” and have big buts is often what keeps many of us unhealthy because we wrongly believe that if we workout we will get too muscular or lose our curves. I believe there is a balance and people should do what works for them.

Ryan March 21, 2014 - 5:16 PM

Yes there are black women who God didn’t intend for them to be a size 0, but there are others in which he did. A size zero is nothing to be ashamed of and neither is a size 16.

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