If you hadn’t heard, Huffington Post’s Black Voices section has featured me in their “Own Your Power” series for not only my weight loss story but also a few tips I gave in avoiding resolution pitfalls. (The article was also featured on the front page of AOL.com, which should explain if you were unable to access the site yesterday.)
One of the first rules of HuffPo is… don’t read the comments. And that’s not a knock at the website, but it is a critique of the people who use anonymity to make some pretty untoward comments on a large stage. Don’t get me wrong – the typical “fat whore” and “finely-aged hooker” comments (both of which I’ve received, here) come with the territory. As a woman (a Black one, at that) who covers issues relating to body image and women actually eating… you just get used to it. Women aren’t supposed to have ownership of their bodies, they aren’t supposed to eat (we’re supposed to perpetually diet, fear food and strive to shrink ourselves down to toothpicks with two watermelons at the top…because even though our bodies are supposed to have NO fat in them, we’re supposed to have huge boobs too… boobs, which are ALL fat) and they for damn sure aren’t supposed to speak, be it out of turn or IN turn. The “she looked better fat” and the like comments weren’t what annoyed me.
What really got my goat was the number of “OKAY HERE WE GO WHAT IF THERE WAS A WHITE GIRL’S GUIDE TO WEIGHT LOSS? THAT’D BE RACIST AMIRITE AL SHARPTON WOULD BE ON US OMG WTF BBQ NAACP WOULD HAVE OUR HIDES REVERSE RACISM DEATH SQUAD AHHHHH INORITE” comments. There’s even the gem of “When I talk to people, I don’t see color.” in there. I mean, I’m just stupefied by this. This isn’t a rebuttal to the commenters who didn’t give enough of a damn to take five minutes to read a single article on the site, namely the one where I address whether the blog can help non-Blacks as well as nongirls. This is for the people who, with trepidation (and rightfully so), enter a space that they feel may not be for them or with them in mind, but believe this could be a place where they garner valuable information.
Why do I write this for you? Because I, along with every other Black woman who has even a passing interest in fitness, can relate. It’s what we go through every day, and I think it’s only fair that I address you and your concerns in a way we wish ours were addressed.
Let’s legitimately look at the question, though. Why isn’t there A White Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss? If I felt like being snarky and dismissive, I’d ask you what the hell a lot of the current fitness magazines are out here. Alas, I’m honestly willing to answer it.
The reason my blog carries the title it does is not because it is “a guide to weight loss for Black girls; it is a guide to weight loss by a Black girl. That means the author is Black and female. The acculturation that created the mentality behind the blog posts on this site is Black and female. What is Black female acculturation? The idea that while society places limitations on what I am capable of as a woman, I have to dually face the challenges of facing those limitations as well as the limitations society places on me for being Black. Society has a very specific idea of what “women” should look like. Society rewards those who look that way, and shames those who do not. My friends who are struggling to keep their brunette roots from showing under their blond hair may simply like being blondes, or they may be trying to fit into society’s definition of beauty. My friends who are starving right now may just not have time to eat, or they’re starving themselves to fit society’s definition of beauty.
I exist in a society where the people who set the standard for what is beautiful are not “women,” like I am, and they certainly aren’t Black, like I am. I contribute to a culture (because culture is, in fact, dynamic) where the people who set the standard for what is “beautiful” and “desirable” may be Black, but they certainly aren’t women. The standards for these two places are, in no parts, similar. At all. Ever. The ridiculous part of this all, though, is the fact that beauty is subjective. All things aren’t beautiful to all people, but all people are beautiful to someone, most importantly themselves, and that needs to be okay. We don’t work that way in America, though. Someone else sets the standard for what is beautiful. The rest of us suck it up and buy the products and get the procedures it takes to be desirable. (See: consumerism.) As a Black woman, though, I am given a safe haven from the bashing. Even though I’m morbidly obese, I’m “still beautiful” and “don’t need to change.” Even though I’m morbidly obese, I’m told “I love a big fine woman,” because male attention should be the deciding factor in my self-satisfaction. Even though I’m morbidly obese, I’m told “you can do side bends or sit-ups, but please don’t lose that butt.” I’m not a human with a brain, I’m a two-legged (sometimes four-legged?) stand for a ginormous booty.
In a society that shuns me because I look so different from the “ideal,” I’m lulled into comfort by my own culture that tells me that my (talking about myself, here) inability to cope through anything but food, lack of physical activity, poor habits that were causing improper functioning in my legs and the consequences of such were okay. It’s wrong, the way society harps on women and demands their thinness, but it’s equally questionable how acceptable poor health can be in my own culture. That… is the intersection of being Black and a woman in fitness.
When I seek fitness, on a general scale I may not see too many people who look like me. I have to go against what I believe (however inaccurate it may be) to be the accepted standard in my culture, leave behind what left me feeling beautiful in search of living a healthier life. All women should be granted the space to be beautiful, but that doesn’t outweigh the necessity of being honest with ourselves about our bodies. Are our bodies, and the habits we have that make them and keep them in their current condition, healthy? And if not, are we willing to relinquish our perception of and value of that beauty to achieve that health we desire?
I appreciate any person who, in this day and age, can say “I don’t see color when I talk to people.” I think that’s fantastic.
That being said, it’s difficult for me to take the idea of “a color blind society” seriously when, just this past Sunday, I had an elder white woman shout – loudly, mind you – “Nigger!” at me three times as my daughter and I crossed in front of her in a Whole Foods. (Grew up in the whitest city in one of the whitest states in the Union, and the first time I’m called a “nigger” is when I move to New York City.) No one apologized, no “I’m so sorry you went through that,” no one even looked at me. My daughter, completely oblivious to the entire event, was the only reason I simply laughed as she turned the aisle. I can appreciate the fact that you, Miss Color Blind, can “overlook” that I’m Black. I can not. I’m reminded of it often, when little white women can attempt to debase me in front of my child and no one offers me even a look of sympathy, when presidential candidates can make statements about how Blacks need to go out and earn their own money (as if we aren’t already… as if something like 70% of welfare recipients aren’t white) and when there are still stories of redlining (and reverse redlining – hello, recession!) happening in America. I just… I don’t have that privilege of “not seeing color.”
So while I can appreciate the people who talk about color blindness, I don’t believe that “forgetting” or “ignoring” culture is the answer. The real answer is to respect culture and the beauty it brings. Fight for its representation, even if that means taking a back seat. Respect that while the lives led by people of different cultures may share a lot of similarities, there are nuances created by culture that make a difference.
All in all… everyone is welcome, here. I work hard to keep the community chill, and I hope you find value in what we share here. And, just as we Black women venture out, fearing and fearless at the same time, and find kinship along the way…. I hope for the same for you. Besides, we don’t bite around here. Unless it’s food… then we’re gnawin’.
Let them know, E! Alas, the ones that need to see this and *get* it, are the ones that won’t do either. Ah well, we women need to focus on our on standards of health and beauty, despite what the theys say.
It really irks me that some people think that just mentioning race or ethnicity is indeed racist. It doesn’t work that way.
I’m not black, but I’ve definitely found a lot of useful info on your website. I read several other blogs about healthy living, eating clean, some about weight loss. Few really touch on the broader socioeconomic and cultural issues. That’s important to me, because, like you, I can’t untangle being a Chicana from my identity whether other people want me to or not.
Honestly, I feel like it’s far too often that the concept of “racism” isn’t parsed out for people, and all we get is “don’t even ever mention someone’s race.” No, all white people aren’t “guilty” of this and all persons of color aren’t “wise” on the subject, and we all could benefit from healthy dialogue.
I talk about socioconomic issues because more of us need to be made aware. People may not leave my blog thinking “F-YEAH! GONNA GO BUILD ME A SUPERMARKET IN THE HOOD!” but the next time they hear a study talk about “poor people cost this country more in health care than the rich,” they’ll be able to block that “if you aren’t rich, you’re worthless” mentality by saying “well, if they can’t eat properly, of course their bodies can’t function properly.” The more people there are out there who are aware and who understand, the more hands there may be on deck to solve it.
And thank you! 🙂
I cannot lie– First time I visited this site, I may have considered opening up a health food supermarket in the hood. Just maybe.
I might could love you if you did.
On that colorblind part: thank you. I need people who think they’re complimenting or moving forward to read and hear this over and over. The colorblind contingent disturbs me more than the conspicuously contemptuous.
I so needed this as a black women, everything you say is on point. please stay encourage. I need this blog.
I’m a white girl, and I love love love your blog. I made the spinach chicken pizza last night and loved it….you’re an inspiration to me. Stupid idiots are everywhere. Being blind to the differences between us is no virtue, because it assumes equality of experience. Fair doesn’t always mean equal.
….and seriously, she said that to you?! and no one responded?! I am beginning to lose faith in people.
Thank you, and thank you for using one of my favorite disses – “stupid idiot.” ROFL
Yes, she said it to me, and at least three different people looked me dead in my face and kept walking.
Wow. I live in NYC, shop at Whole Foods a lot (Bowery) and hope to cross paths with the person who said that to you and your daughter. I admire and respect your restraint. Racism and hatred: alive and kicking even in the most “liberal” places. *SMDH*
And…most importantly, thank you for what you do. Thank you for the way you do it, and thank you for sharing your smart thinking.
That Bowery WF – AND the one in TriBeCa – are the only two I will shop at any more. Something about Union Square just… makes me feel MAD unwelcome nowadays, and ESPECIALLY after that situation. Bad juju or something.
‘And There’s even the gem of “When I talk to people, I don’t see color.”
I am sorry your work here was thrown into that snake pit. I found your wonderful blog yesterday through that article and yeah, it was me who asked THAT chick several times in the thread why she thinks “not seeing color” is a compliment, and why is she so disturbed at your blog title but turns a blind eye to the outwardly racist filth in the same thread. All she can come up with is ‘you are racist angry hateful blah’. This is the modern equivalent of calling Black people uppity. I even suggested to her that she either read your blog and gain some valuable info anyone can relate to, or start her own and insert White in the title since she is losing so much sleep over it. But there are a lot of people there who seemed to appreciate your hard work.
The irony of this new strain of racism is so down the rabbit hole. Someone can hear an elderly person spew venom at you in front of your child but if you had responded to it? You would have been the angryblackracistreactionary who should have been the better person, after all she is old, etc. I have been in work situations where folks screamed at me, turned blue etc. and when i quietly walk away- I’m asked ‘why are you so dismissive, you know so and so has a strong personality’. Aaaarghh
And I am sooo glad you addressed the ‘she looked better big and fine!’ remarks which cracked me up. I think the after photo you posted does not show your curves so that’s what they are focusing on. I can go all day feeling happy about compliments about a dress I wore that day. But it takes one guy to say ‘giirrrl you sure is looking sexaaay with those big pretty legs’ to make my confidence level plummet. Because I know what that means in “our” culture and i prefer toned & shapely to big and pretty. So that’s what I am working on now, with the help of your website 🙂
Of course you know people would’ve defended an elderly white woman shouting “nigger!” at me multiple times and shunned me for responding. It’s a very specific, very special pair of derailment tactics that privileged people use to avoid having to address their privilege. I’m not going to get that deep into it, but I AM, however, going to say that I am a person who believes in karma… and I felt more pity for her than I felt anger. Not only that, but I’ve got my own karma to manage. Going HAM on an old broad when I KNOW I pity her wouldn’t sit right with me.
Yes, I saw you and her battling it out. I’m not going to say what I’m thinking… but I WILL say that hr behavior is spoiled – “Look at what I can do, and I’m white! If I can do it, surely your Black ass can do it!” Because… everything is that easy? Ever? I wish I could give her a stadium, just so I could tell her “Pick a seat…and HAVE IT.”
And, really, about the “she looked better fat” comments… compare a picture of me with my hair straight, full makeup, posing in my sorority stance with a picture of me with no makeup, hair braided a la Pippi Longstocking, standing in a bathroom mirror. One picture, simply, is orchestrated better than the other. Alas, my skin is glowing in the after….and most importantly, I’m happier and healthier. A comment from a stranger can never take that from me.
Thank you for supporting, even though you’ve only been around a couple of days. 🙂
Someone once called me a nigger. I told her, “At least I’m not OLD and UGLY. When I wake up I’ll STILL be younger than you.” That shut her up.
Bad, Eva! LMAO!
That was funny!
Standing ovation over here. I love how I feel after I read one of your posts. I feel strong and empowered and no one can make me feel bad about myself. Big booty and all. 🙂
This is such a great post. Basically everything I’ve ever wanted to say, but didn’t know how. Thanks for sharing your voice.
I want to say thank you for what you do for people with this blog. You have certainly opened my eyes -over and over and over – and made me rethink my habits, and the way I view eating, exercise and health. Your blog applies to human beings regardless of culture…but I also appreciate how you address issues pertinent to your own culture. Every group needs a safe place and you have created that here for all of us who follow you.
That’s for your excellent article. I try not to give up on people but it’s hard.
*rousing standing ovation* Erica, thank you for you strength, courage and wisdom. This blog is an inspiration to many and your post over on HP was well deserved. Sigh at the naive “colorblind” mentality. Call me crazy but I want you to see/acknowledge my “color” because it is a part of me – certainly doesn’t define me, but is integral to my life experience. What I don’t want, is for you to form preconceived ideas because of it.
I know it’s annoying, but you cannot be concerned about what white folks say/feel. We have lived alongside them for years months and days yet they don’t “get” us. Are they ignorant? No. They choose not to. So I choose not to be afflicted by them.
YIKES!!! We black women are catching it from all sides this week. Clutch Magazine also talked about a similar issue surrounding the “Sh*t White Girls Say…To Black Girls.” The article mentions “microaggressions” which are explained as: “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of other races.” <– Clearly this is what we are talking about.
Check out the article (http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2012/01/not-everyones-laughing-at-shit-white-girls-say-to-black-girls/). In spite of the negativity, I'd like to thank you, Erika, for all of your hard work. I'd like to thank you for being brave enough to put yourself on display and bear all of your triumphs alongside all of your failures in hopes that we all can learn from you and ultimately make better life decisions. Thank you for understanding the journey that many of us are embarking on for what seems like the millionth time, is tough and requires dedication, compassion and encouragement. Simply put: Thank you for creating this haven that allows us to drop our insecurities and learn how we can make ourselves better, one step at a time. Thank you.
I saw the video – and read that post – and after I finished both, I cringed. I just KNEW it was coming.
I’m sorry. I’m just… not willing to accept the position of “inferior,” “in need of” ANYTHING, or “secondary.” Like I said on twitter…I’m an AQUARIUS. I cannot live in a restrictive world where I can’t be who or do WHAT I WANT. ROFL
Erika…Keep up the good work! Love your blog!
I love your blog!! I too feel like there aren’t enough magazines/articles that specifically deal with the battles of healthy eating and fitness in most Black families. When you have to constantly explain that you just want to be healthy and putting smoked neck bones in errrrr vegetable we cook is not ok…..no one understands that battle (and others like it) but Black people! With this being true, I also have never felt like your articles are stamped “for black people only”. People need to relax!
If you consider race, you are a racist. If you consider gender, you are a sexist. There is nothing inherently wrong with either. How you apply those considerations is what makes you evil or not.
When presented with a “black girl’s” anything, I have to decide if a black girl offers anything of value to me. These are racist, sexist considerations I am forced to make when presented with the choice of reading your blog, for example.
Personally, I like black folks and girls, so… hello from a white boy in Georgia.
Hello, white boy from Georgia, LOL. 🙂
“Consider race/gender” as a factor of whether or not a person has something to offer, vs “acknowledge race/gender” as the lens through which the person sees themselves and the world in which they live. One has indefinite -isms, the other can be applied without having limiting and dismissive results, no?
Also note, that when I pick up a fitness magazine, I’m not granted the privilege of asking whether or not a white person has anything of value to offer to me, else I’d risk having no media at all. As I said in my post, I pick it up anyway because, despite the differences, I am willing to see what it has to offer. Much like you. 🙂
What’s with all the smiles at that white dude? Desperate to get attention from the oppressor, eh?
Considering how much “attention” I get from this blog altogether, you might be surprised how little I have to do to actually “get” any. Seeing as how this is the kind of comment you leave on my blog, I see that I can’t say the same for you. #bam #gotchaass
Just out of curiosity: Why do you capitalize “black” but not “white” when you write? Since they are equal descriptors, why not treat them the same (either capitalize both or capitalize neither)?
Quite frankly, because I was always taught to capitalize minority cultures and nationalities… same as I do Haitian, Cuban, Vietnamese, Peruvian, so on and so forth. I’ve never given it a second thought, especially since “white” is a)neither minority nor a nationality and b) “white” is, often, synonymous with “American” or “European,” both of which I always capitalize.
Very nicely done and congrats on getting your article featured on AOL and the Huffington Post.
“All things aren’t beautiful to all people, but all people are beautiful to someone, most importantly themselves, and that needs to be okay. ”
-On top of great health and fitness ideas you also say things like this.
With all the craziness you have gotten about the title of your blog I thought I would let you know- I am a white girl that reads this blog everyday. I heard about this blog from another one of my white girlfriends who also covers up those brown roots to show off her blonde and works her butt off at the gym after reading this blog everyday as well. I have reccomended this blog to quite a few of my girlfriends and know for a fact that two of my friends, Asian girl friend and Spanish girl friend, ALSO read your blog every day.
If anyone took the time to read your blog more than the title they would understand that it is not just a place for black women. It is a place for anyone who is scared about starting to get healthy and a place where we can feel like we are not alone.
This may be unnecessary but, I thought I would be an example of a girl who is not black who loves this blog and is motivated every day by your guide to weightloss.
Keep it up!
I saw it yesterday on my aol and was so PROUD of you but I also knew what was coming when I opened it and of course scrolled down. I had to just shut it down. I was a little upset and dare I say mad because I just felt like something you and everyone who comes here had created (a safe haven) had been violated by these cowards on the internet. I was going to email you but you beat me to it. :O) Great response and I am very PROUD of you and what you have built here. I’ve been coming here a few years and I’ve seen non black and non females come here for what they need and get it. So that’s what’s important not dumb questions about “white voices and reverse racism”.
As for your experience with the older white woman all I can say is WOW. And they talk about the south. Heck the first time I heard someone say N out loud like that was at my mother in BOSTON. Granted I was grown and had never even heard any white person say that outside of historical tv stories or just hearing stories about the KKK specifically. And again they talk about the south (I’m from ATL by the way). There are no words I can express.
I’m just glad little one wasn’t affected by it. And I hope (and I know you did) you did what you needed not to have that affect your spirit. :O)
Much peach and love
Cringe before you read: Halleluah girl, your [balls are] swingin!…ha ha and I like it.
You know after watching sh*t white girls say to black girls and reading your blog post, I wonder at the opposition to black people having anything– to carving out even small spaces for ourselves to talk about things important to us. We are called racist, separatist and other things for taking the time to value ourselves. People make comments that there would be outrage if a white person had a blog with a title “White girl….”. But what they fail to understand is that those blogs, magazines already exist. As you said, fitness magazines, food blogs, and other media outlets overwhelmingly highlight the white experience– it is just that experience is so normalized and taken up as the universal experience that there is no need to insert White into anything– it comes through in the subject matter and images that showcase the white experience (often ignoring the variations in class and ethnicity)
Erika I have to say I am getting so tired of all this foolishness, I thank you for providing a space that talks about health in general while loving the specificity of what it means to be a black woman or a woman of color in a society that routinely tells us we are not good enough.
I recall when I first wandered onto this site, you had an older post addressing this issue similarly. It made sense to me–and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with the fallout from folks who don’t get it.
I just wandered over this way purely by mistake and would like to say that this site is outstanding. Yes… it is a safe haven. Yes,… I saw a lot of intelligent comments. I mention this because of all the hate towards Black people on the web nowadays has a tendency to wear you down after awhile. I think that the comments on any web site will tell you the true nature of the people who visit, therefore it’s the first place I go and boy, is it telling.
Anyway. Keep up the good work. Great site. And so far, great people. And as an aside: I’m a 63 year old Black male and I think you are and seem to have always been, a beautiful Black woman. In my younger days, I would have been glad to have met you in a dark place and lick you all over your body. Sorry if that was inappropriate and I don’t mean to offend, but old school Black men play it for real.
Hi. I just stumbled across your blog while searching for something else and must say I became an instant fan. What you have to say is relevant for anyone wishing to lose weight, regardless of race. I am appalled at the way you were treated by the woman in the store but not really surprised. A color blind society is an ideal worth working toward but it certainly is a far cry from current reality.
Keep on keeping on Erika! Your purpose is so much bigger than their fears & insecurities or ignorance. Knowledge IS indeed power & in a society that has traditionally upheld the power of one group_while discouraging/oppressing other groups….I say to you ‘Right on’! WE love, need, and truly Value what BGG2WL does for the blogosphere. Thank you again
Love your thoughts being heavy was never accepted by my parents. I was the pretty fat daughter, in a family where image mattered a lot. I wished I had listened to them since being unhealthy has caused issues and as I get older it’s become worse. I guess I wanted to rebel again my parents model of what was beautiful and acceptable. I didn’t start out to lose weight it gradually happened since I had to change my diet.
I haven’t bought into the “ideal of beauty” just didn’t feel satisfied about wanting to appeal to or accepted by “society” by presenting an image of me that wasn’t real. I realized at a young age I was nervous told to shut up and do what I tell you. With no talking back to my mother I stuffed my feeling of resentment. As life goes along there were others to take my mothers place that is what I learned so it kept repeating itself. Until I realized what happened in my childhood has passed, it’s my job as an adult to change my life and create the life I want, and it can be done.
I see the “color” and nationality, and culture of everyone I meet. I also see a way we can connect on a human level, cause no matter what we all have things in common. Yet when you try to connect and their friend and families whisper why are you friends with so and so. Or someone white said stay with your own kind shows me we don’t want to deal with anything that jars our perception of people that goes against what is taught.
The lady in the supermarket wanted to shame you make you run scurrying, I wonder what would have happened if asked why are you so angry. I know this is hard to hear but people respond to something in us, what is it about us that makes us feel less than. Words are only powerful if we believe in our core that we are.
What has helped me is meditation and deep breathing to deal with my nervousness and anxiety that caused me to overeat. Just take the time to breath deeply until I am calm again. Also drop that strong black woman model that made me frustration and not vulnerable enough to release my pain, gave myself permission to cry, rage, then breath to get myself together again. I am beginning to think I need more than strength in my arsenal I need to develop other skills to defuse racism. Strength is just so overused. I needed better skills to love myself more, and on days I didn’t to reflect hurtful comments that came my way.
I just love your honest glad I found you.
“I know this is hard to hear but people respond to something in us, what is it about us that makes us feel less than.”
Are you genuinely implying that she “saw something in me” to compel her to call me a “nigger?”
Are you attempting to justify racism? As if to imply, “Well, if you thought more of yourselves then no one would call you a racial slur?” You can’t think the world works this way.
I’m sorry, I’m not into playing with apology theory for racists. There is NO excuse, no justification, nothing. She was a disrespectful-beyond-belief woman who saw me turn a corner in front of her and called me out of my name in front of my child. If you want to make excuses for her reprehensible behavior, certainly don’t do it in MY presence, as the undeserving recipient.
I truly, truly, hope this isn’t what you meant and that I’m reading this wrong.
I’m actually replying to myself right now, because I can’t help but wonder if you meant that there was something in ME that made HER feel less than and react in that way.
I just.. I’m grasping at straws and hope to gain some understanding of what you meant.
I’m a white girl and I LOVE your blog. I found it because I was voting for “Blacking It Up” (a podcast) on some award website and happened to click on your link, and I’m really glad I did. There isn’t a White History Month because…it’s EVERY month. And “I don’t see color…” That’s adorable, but most people DO see color. You can talk all you want about how race and gender are socially-constructed…but get real. And no, we don’t live in a post-racial America…you should hear what other white people (mostly strangers on the bus) say to me when black people aren’t around. Or simply read comments on some websites. You think HuffPost is bad? Try Yahoo. The comments are heart-breaking. I lose faith in humanity about every other day.
Anywho, congrats on the HuffPost feature, and keep doing what you’re doing. It’s amazing.
In the few days I have been reading your articles/blog/facebook page, I have been very impressed. I love the straight forwardness of your words and believe me, they do make an impact. (One of the first things I read was that anyone can benefit from your writings)I don’t know what drew me to your sight but I am so glad I have found it. You are honest to yourself and I commend you for it. It is sad knowing that there are still so many people that have a hateful heart towards other people that are different. I am truely sorry you had to endure the name calling in New York but it is good your daughter did not know what was happening. I see racism happening all around me and try not to look at the world that way. To be honest sometimes it is hard and I find myself over-compensating and have told myself the same thing “Don’t see color, see the person”. But after reading your post I have come to realize that the color of ones skin is not to be overlooked, it is who they are and you are right, it is wrong to not see that. Thank you Erika for the insight. You have opened my eyes and have made me a better person for it.
Seriously? That’s ridiculous. I’m white and I follow your blog obsessively. You have taught me to eat a well-balanced, nutritional diet, and I’m forever grateful. Some people just want to bitch about ANYTHING.
I feel so bad that you had to experience that in NYC (which is where I live) and I just wanted to say that I love your blog and I am white. I found your blog through AOL and am glad I did. There are so many people out there who think that they are being politically correct by saying that they don’t see “color”. I believe that they are disingenuous and that we should all acknowledge that we are all biased towards our own culture and nationality. I see nothing wrong with your blog and your willingness to help others out there like you who are going through the things you went through. We should all celebrate our differences instead of trying to pretend as if we have none.
Btw, I love your recipes and am hoping that I can decrease my weight through your help. If you are ever in the city..write to me through my website I would love to meet you.
Congrats on being featured on Huffington Post! That’s AMAZING!
And the comments….ugh. So much fail. I wish white people (myself included- I struggle with this sometimes, I’m ashamed to admit) didn’t see race/racism as this big Other-something that isn’t connected to any other issue we might be able to identify with, such as health and fitness. If seeing the word Black in the title of a blog puts me on the defensive, I should stop and ask myself why that is before listing examples of why I can’t be racist and attempting to invalidate the blogger’s authority/position, etc. It is my responsibility as a white person to own up to my privilege and…well, stop being ignorant.
That being said, your blog has helped me so much! I hope your HuffPo fame gains you some new (non-angry) readers that will also be helped.
This reminds me of this comic, even though it’s about gay versus straight. The world needs to address the issues that aren’t being talked about, and thank you for being part of that.
Hi, I was just directed to your blog through an article on Shapemagazine.com and I love it.
I am a white girl, 18 years old, and I have always been very critical of my body. I have what some might call “a black girl’s but,” or junk, a booty, etc. Your blog made me feel better too, it doesn’t matter the color, everyone has there own body issues but it’s nice to find people who are having the same problems and overcoming them.
What my mom always told me is, you might not like your butt but guys love it! I’m learning to appreciate it 🙂
I too found your wonderful blog by way of Huffpo. There are so many issues raised that I’d like to comment on, but I dare not write a book. To deny ones race and say “I see no color” is so very offensive. I love my color, my hair, my skin tone and all that entails being black. For someone to say that, to me, seems dismissive and that offends me. I see other races and admire different cultures. If we lived in a society/country that truly appreciated race/culture their would be no need for a blog that referenced colored. Magazines, televison and media outlets would be more representitive of all people. As a black woman, I too know what it’s like to be called the “N” word in a public place. I was in Jr. High school and a cafeteria lady said it. Bottom line, I’m so glad I found your blog and wish you all the best.
Thanks for this post. I recently found your website through another site, but worried that as a white woman, I’m intruding on sacred space–but I can’t stay away! Your writing is engaging, your openness is so appealing, and you’re providing such wonderful, sane information!! Thanks again!
Love this blog & all the other ones I’ve read that have truly helped me change my perception of black girl beauty & health! Thank you! Keep up the great work!
I love this blog and have been glued to it ever since I found it. This is the first blog I have seen that I can relate to so much. Thank you, Erika. I’m feeling you girl, don’t let anyone steal your joy.
Please don’t change the name stay true to what u believe in I appreciate this blog …..I am tired of white Americas views any time their is a positive view on keeping our black women healthy and in shape ….if it was a blog about causal sex or fatherless homes their would be crickets……I am a black women who has lost 104pounds and I am in the gym about 8hours a week and its almost like black women are under the eye of the white female lots of shitty looks and fake smiles..its almost as if its just too much for white American to embrace a women of color who is just as healthy as our white counterparts…….
Bravo Erika Bravo!! You are such an inspiration. Because of you I have been eating clean and stepping up my workouts the past 2 weeks…8lbs down (I did cheat a little with the sauna) and recalculated my calories needed too, since I had already lost 40. I also joined “Black Girls Run” in my local area…found their website either through you or “All Men Who Love Women With Natural Hair” I meet with them for the first time tomorrow morning for a 3mile walk/jog.
I’ll bet some person will have a problem with both sites I mentioned that site too…but they have Runner’s World, In Shape and Fitness magazine and the entire world glorifies White women’s “natural hair”. I find I can’t relate as much in say my outdoor fitness camp which is predominantly white. The workouts are great but the real comraderie just isn’t there. And my booty is the biggest!! So that makes me self conscious. I want to lose weight and some of my booty but my booty goals and theirs are definately different. Even at my smallest, I don’t want a flat behind. (I know all White women don’t have flat behinds…I’m talking majority).
And BTW – about the old lady… I’on know about you but I woulda said something back and said two hail Mary’s when I got home. :l Age ain’t nothin but a number.
Let me start by saying BRAVO!! *clapping*
You have created a website that empowers, inspires, and encourages. You have touched hundreds if not thousands of lives, whether they were blue, green, or orange. Being a “Black Girl” that is and continues to be inspired by your articles I say THANK YOU! You stated your rebuttal well and whoever wrote those comments are just unhappy and are in desperate need of a swift kick in the gluteus maximums. 🙂 I salute you Sis!! Keep doing you!!
Bravo, your response to the racist b.s. couldn’t have been expressed any better. The only time that I’ve been called a nigger (to my face anyway) was in NYC…where I was born and raised. I’m so sorry that you had that experience.
You my dear are gifted and you’ve connected with your readers in such a profound way that it really doesn’t matter what the “others” think about your blog title. You just listening to what your readers want and give it them!
Wow Golda you are absolutely beautiful…
“Being blind to the differences between us is no virtue, because it assumes equality of experience. Fair doesn’t always mean equal.” When I read this comment, I thought, “someone finally gets it.” I have a problem with people saying that they don’t see color because as a Black woman, I can’t afford to have that mentality for survival reasons. In addition, if anyone would take the time and read the blogs (I’ve read nearly all of them over the past two months) they would quickly realize that the information Ericka posts on this site is useful to just about anyone. C’mon people!
Thank you Erika for this post! It’s (mostly!) everything I’ve wanted to say at various times in my workplace. I’m the only Black person in my dept. & we’ve recently started this Wellness Program and your website has been a blessing. I can’t explain it as eloquently as you but it’s funny being in a meeting and hearing people stress over being “fat” & they are several sizes smaller than me! It doesn’t affect my self-esteem because I was raised and have experienced that there are different definitions of beauty, especially in different cultures.
The idea that while society places limitations on what I am capable of as a woman, I have to dually face the challenges of facing those limitations as well as the limitations society places on me for being Black.
Excerpted from Blogging While Black: On Having An Accidentally Controversial Blog Title | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss
I came to this blog through Fitfluential tweeting your coffee post – the first thing that struck me was your writing, unlike a lot of health/fitness bloggers, yours was actually good!!! AND you had something to say, not just a photo journal of what you ate today (zzzzzz) – THEN I noticed the title and I’ll be honest my first thought was – huh? – but I quickly moved past that and started digging in to some truly quality articles with fantastic writing and research, two elements I really can eat up.
My race isn’t important, I’m just a blog reader so who cares what I am. I’m comfortable being who I am and reading whatever blogs I want to read – thank you for contributing in a society that isn’t always easy to comfortably contribute to.
I wish that “Unpacking the Invisible Backpack” were required reading at the middle school level. It would make the world a better place.
I’m not Black and I do love your blog *and* do also appreciate that having a Black focused blog makes a lot of damn sense, because I am *not* colorblind and do see who is represented in most media. It does the world good to read different perspectives.
You rock! Keep up the writing! So much of what you write just has me nodding my head and agreeing. Love it.
I just have to say I loved this blog…I have a little story to tell (quick and sweet)… my Dad (stepdad technically) is black and I am not… My daughter was 3 or 4 at the time and I asked her what her favorite color was… she said brown like Papa… right then and there I knew that color and/ or race is clearly apparent in our world and so is a little childs perception of love and goodness. I may notice that youre black and you may notice that Im white and we can find beauty, respect, love and imbrace our humanity together 🙂
Like a lot of the other commenters here atm, I’m a white girl who has been reading your blog for uhh, maybe almost a year now… without ever commenting before. I found it by accident through google or such ( I think I might have been looking for the Beyonce diet or something LOL. Shame, younger me, shaaame) and saw the title. Of course I kinda went “Well, this isn’t really for me then.”
But then I read an entry that caught my eye. Saw a link to another interesting one. And another. And another. All this time later, having read a majority of the stuff on this site, I have to say it is one of the most useful, no bs, logical, fun, interesting and INTELLIGENT (oh yeah, I broke out the caps for that one) weight loss guides I know of.
As for the black aspect, being from a north european country where we have few coloured people and more racism than a lot of us are willing to admit. And even though I have an exceptionally international background due to my expatriat upbringing, I feel like this site more than often provides insights and info I would have maybe not encountered too easily otherwise.
This site teaches and helps me a lot, and that’s what I love about it. Bravo, Erika.
I am an older African American woman that is losing weight and becoming more fit. I just want to tell you, I love this site, AGAIN, I love this site. You keep me motivated and inspired. We have to fight so many battles in the world everyday and even in our families and men on what makes us feel good about ourselves. A friend of mine was tripping because I am losing weight of large women. He kept posing pictures of obese women on Facebook. I am not judging women who are bigger than me. I like to eat everything. I also liked to smoke cigarettes, but I quit because cigarettes are not good for human beings. Aesthetics aside, obesity is unhealthy. Our bones were not created for excess weight, but for movement. I feel so much better now that I am taking care of myself. The dynamics of health, food, and exercise are tied to our mental health. I think African Americans are so used to our constant anxiety that it is just part of who we are. How we cope with life is tied to our health, eating habits, and how we do or do not take care of ourselves. It is tied to racism and our internalized racism and sexism. Which could take up another blog. What is amazing to me is that we have elected an African American President and now all the closet racists are everywhere and it is ok. and God forbid, we have a place to go that reflects our concerns. We had better self esteem before integration.
I am on your site at least 3 times daily. I can’t stop reading and learning. I am so happy that you are standing up to this nonsense. It’s so funny how many try so hard to exclude us and then when we say “ok, np, I will create something that speaks to MY issues,” it’s a problem. It’s like you are not good enough to be in the sorority, but you should never think enough of yourself to start your own. I must say that I have been on a eat right roller coaster for many years, but this is the first time I am learning so much! Having someone who look like me share such wisdom is such a contribution to my focused success. Who said we don’t help each other? Lol. I am so impressed, I just wish you were DST instead of AKA, lol. Panhellenic love! Keep doing it. You are changing lives.
Awwwww LMAO *big hug* Yes, panhel love, indeed! <3
Erica, keep up the good work! This article was amazing. I, too, am tired of hearing our “justifications” for living diabetes or heart disease waiting to happen, by calling it “big, bold, and beautiful.”
You and your fantastic blog are a breath of fresh air, sistah!
I got to say, I was pushed by my own society into the “I don’t see colour!”. It took me growing up from teenagehood and thinking by myself, that being colourblind and being tolerant/accepting are two different things.
I do see colour. I see them all around me, and the diversity is great. Embracing the differences, finding the common, enriching ourselves, and not insisting on what is not important in daily interaction – I may say I don’t “see colour” when having a casual subway chitchat, but I do see colour, or at least a sea of culture, when it comes to my own husband which is from completely different background and country. Not seeing it at that point would be plain stupid, because I wouldn’t be ever able to relate, understand or at least accept his behaviour and customs, and vice versa.
Being colour blind is often as bad as being racist. Although I believe that person meant to please you (or anybody of colour.)
I love your site. Keep it up.
I’ve thought about your site’s name before, and it occurred to me that it might be limiting because some people might assume that only black women could benefit from reading it. I also found myself thinking that many others wouldn’t bother reading it because they’d assume it was only relevant for women who wanted to lose weight. This would be sad because there are plenty of unhealthy, normal-weight people who need to read your work.
I also think that there are valid reasons for naming your site as you did (the reasons you outlined above). I don’t think you owe anybody any apologies for your site’s name. But there is a small change you can consider making: You could name the site “ablackgirlsguidetoweightloss.” The article “a” would make it clear that the author of the guide was the one whose race was being identified. It also wouldn’t hurt to purchase the domain name “ablackgirlsguidetohealthyeating” (or something like that) and do something with it.
I think your work is excellent. And I’m glad I was curious enough to visit your site the very first time I heard of it. I think everyone, whatever their gender, race, or weight would do well to follow your blog. They would all learn something important about healthy eating and about the cultural attitudes that have evolved around food and fitness.
Hey! I’m a white girl, a fitness trainer, and I love your cite! I recommended it to all my ladies! You offer fantastic information that pertains to everyone! Thank you for your hard work!
Wow. Wow. Wow. I really fail to understand the line of thinking some people have especially when it comes to ignorance. I mean, did these people just wake up ignorant? Did they fall into it? Did someone knock them upside the head and all the intelligence and logical thinking left? If we as Black people identify ourselves with OUR OWN race be that in the form of a blog, a web-series, a TV show, a poem, a political affiliation, a political stance, an economic issues, health issue, a like or dislike – WHATEVER it may be, does that mean we are racist?????? Really??? I saw your blog and was like dang-it why didn’t I think of that. I didnt immediately think gee, does she have to point out she is black? I dont understand how some people seem to only pick out the negative to comment about and truthfully it brings the racism out in me indirectly but because I believe in God and having Agape love, I can let go of those feelings and just accept that people are just plain old dumb idiots and they need prayer.
See I was so focused on the ignorance of other people I forgot to say what I wanted to say – you are awesome. Nuff said.
It would be easy to say people are ignorant and not to mind them but I understand that it’s hard to do. I think you have a great place here with a wealth of information that can be applied to any one; I have shared a few of your articles with others on different social media groups and it has proven to be helpful to them. I mean after all we all have the same weight issues/battles in some way, shape or form.
I run with Black Girls Run and when we are out in our BGR gear we get comments all the time, despite the fact that we have women from all ethnic backgrounds running within our group.
Yet, people still sneer at us (not all but we get a few) which leads me to believe that people don’t realize that we are not being exclusionary but we are catering to women just like us and letting them know; we are not random women out running, we are a group, we run, you can do it too, you have support and an understanding others may not have so come on out. Just like your blog no where does that say “Black people only” and once people stop being ignorant and realize that any thing beginning with “Black” doesn’t mean you’re not allowed then we can all live together in harmony (I think I may be expecting too much). *shrug*
Why isn’t there A White Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss? If I felt like being snarky and dismissive, I’d ask you what the hell a lot of the current fitness magazines are out here.
Excerpted from Blogging While Black: On Having An Accidentally Controversial Blog Title | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss
I wouldn’t call that snarky or dismissive at all. It’s an accurate, if pithy, assessment of white privilege. White privilege is, unfortunately, the medium that we all live in, even as we question and resist it. And the awful rotten thing goes back to the whole “fish don’t see water” problem — it takes a lot of work for white folks to see white privilege, and it is not your job, or the job of any person of color, to educate them. (Of course, I like some snark, which is why I’m always reading http://yoisthisracist.com/ as both a reality check and a way to vicariously mock idiots/haters.)
I’ve been reading your blog for about a year. I’m a white girl. I also like to think of myself as an ally and a committed anti-racist. Major parts of being an ally are learning when it is appropriate to let others do the talking, and learning how to listen. I read your blog because you’re a great writer, and because your writing hits the sweet spot of feminism, cultural critique, and food politics, which are my three favorite things to read about on the internet.
Well Said! Ignorance has been and always will be among us. This story reminded me of when I was a student at the HBC Fayetteville State University, and my Social Work teacher would recommend readings to us by black authors. One of the white students that sat beside me, said ‘why does she only give us books to read by black authors?” I just purposely gave her the dear in th headlights look, while I thought why dididn’t i think to ask that the first 12 years of my schooling? Why was I only given books by white authors? Again I am reminded that many people just don’t like the truth…and i am sticking with my story – that the truth shall set you free! Black experiences will ALWAYS be different than white experiiences. I don’t care if you are one of those who “don’t see color”. For the record, I have black and white friends.
DAWG. THIS is whyI left my PWI for an HBCU. THIS. THIS RIGHT HERE. Holy moly. (And, can you believe, when I brought this up to my advisor, she implied that I was being racist?)
Unfortunately the interent does give the oppurtunity for ignorance to be more prevelant due to the option for anonymity. It does suck that something so motivational and positve for many can be turned into something so negative. I find your blog very inspirational so I hope you stay positive and keep doing what you are doing. : )
The “controversy” has nothing to do with these commenters feeling upset that they can’t be a part, and everything to do with us as black people daring to set up our own spaces in “their” world. I feel the same way when racist white people complain about the fact that black people use the “n” word and they can’t (in public, except obviously, from what you experienced, some still do). To me its like they’re saying “but that was our word! Now we can only use it in the privacy of our own homes!” The people complaining really have no interest in being a part of black spaces, they just feel uncomfortable in a world where a black girl can have her own space and her own voice without them pulling the strings.
I love your blog and thank you that this space exists.
And this is why this white girl mainly reads your health and fitness blog, and not all the superwhite clean eating blogs. Because you aren’t ever just writing about health and fitness from a superficial level; for you, it’s POLITICAL, and I appreciate that. I find your analysis on weight, body image, food, and self-worth so much more motivating than anything else. Thanks so much for writing this.
I’m neither black nor a woman, & your site has been a resource for me.
& not just for me, but for my friends & family, to have an example that living healtheir is available for everyone.
…& I especially appreciate that you talk about the POLITICS of food & body image!!!!
I have nothing nice to say about those trolls E. The only thing that comes to mind is f••k ’em and keep doing you. I love your journey and you know I read you whenever I’m in the country. Keep inspiring the masses to get off their….es
With how much the “media” and society (those people of all races ) make comments about big girls and big black girls at that, what does your good will, kind heart, insightful view, helpful and researched information have to do with their racism? Or why do you even have to defend it? I follow a fitness instagram lead by a white woman who gets similar feedback, so race isn’t really a factor anymore, ignorance abounds in leaps and bounds. Thank God, ( the beautiful black intriguing goddess one 😉 ) for all that you do here to inspire, teach and lead us all in the right healthy direction .
Congrats on getting the recognition!
Your site is so resourceful to those on a path to wellness. It is true that black people on a whole do have health issues which are unique to our race. Having said that, your site offers great advice, workouts and motivation for all races. Great job.
I come on your blog daily, because it’s good to see your progress and your tips. It would be just as helpful if you were White, orange, polka dot or green.
Re seeing color: I didn’t for a while until I started make-up shopping. Bear with me here and it will all make sense.
I was looking for foundation at a drug store and do you know how hard it is to find something in your shade? It’s like the ray of colored girls are forgotten. Mainstream corporations tend to forget “us”.
In my quest to lose weight, I realize that we’re forgotten by mainstream media. Their approach goes for one demographic and it can get discouraging.
Your blog is heaven sent, and anyone that says anything else needs to get it together.
Thanks for all of your tips and congratulations on your success!
What most of my fellow Caucasians don’t understand is… we made our own problem. We made ‘white’ the base standard for human beings. When someone complements actors like Morgan Freeman, they say he’s ‘a great black actor’, not just ‘a great actor’. The same thing happens with Hispanics or Asians etc. But it’s never ‘a great white actor’. It’s great when people are colorblind, but in a good way. Not using stereotypes based on the color of a person’s skin. But the fact of the matter is, not everyone is colorblind like that. As long as there are those who judge based on color, it will be a problem. And as long as it is a problem, something needs to be done about it. The ‘n word’ is never acceptable. Anyone who uses it in such a way needs to be put in their place immediately.
I anyone calls you the “N” word,and you feel like making them the joke….. Look horrified, and holler “Where”, then run/walk fast away from the ignorant fool! (In other words never acknowledge that they were referring to you!)
OMG I have thought about this alleged “colorblind” issues myself so many times. I cannot hide that fact I’m a black woman nor can I jump inside a persons head and make them ignore ALL the stereotypes that come for being a black woman. All I can do is hold my head high and prove them wrong
Well, I’m caucasian myself. Not that it matters at all, but I read one post on your site and I was hooked. I think this site is great and the work you do is awesome, and you look great by the way. Those people that say all of that crap are really just hateful and I honestly I fear for their own self worth.
I know this is an old post but I’m an australian white girl with latino background (spanish/italian) and I love your blog ! I used to like reading fitness mags when I was a bit younger (I’m 24 now), but I always feel like the magazines are talking to or about a person that doesn’t exist..just as an example this is in the editor’s letter of a mag I picked up the other day “OMG. No! It’s bikini season in a nanosecond and I’m so not ready…”. The mag’s address how to lose weight or be fit but their language don’t make me feel any more empowered…and make me feel like if I’m not stressed about being thin then I should be! I love your blog because its all about challenging norms/stereotypes/preconceptions and particularly ones that stop us from appreciating ourselves for who we are. and you create discussion! It really doesn’t matter to me that sometimes I don’t connect on the surface problems.. its the deeper issues that those surface issues come from that we all share!
Hi Erika! I was reading your holiday eating tips and the title of this one caught my eye, so I read through it too. I just wanted to tell you that every time I have read your blog I find it pertinent. There’s a lot of truth in here.
I wanted to also send you sincere thanks. A very good friend of mine has made some serious changes to her health and fitness (not to mention her self esteem and sense of inner strength) in part from reading and relating to what you have to say, including the cultural issues. She is a shining light and finally can see that about herself. It makes me appreciate you that much more.
Simply communicating in a way that can reach a wide audience is so important, for years only a fraction of the world’s population had a voice in mainstream media. Your blog is a nexus of strength for the struggles that still exist: women fighting to shape their worlds and define themselves, African Americans fighting for a stake in their futures and a real view of their past and present. Also important, your blog functions as a place for those outside the communities listed above to go and hear a first hand account of the thoughts of those within. There are so many stories that have been supressed because their sheer brutality was unflattering to those who perpetrated it. How can change come when reality is denied, when those who were complicit in the race-based and gender-based violence aren’t confronted with another’s experience? Through voices like yours. Thank you thank you thank you for your voice, your courage, your strength. I could keep going but pullllllling it back. Lol. You’re the best.
Wow, did this comment make my day! <3
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