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We talk so much about overweight Black women—from “concerned” discussions of studies that reveal troubling rates of obesity in sisters, to snarky comments about how fat Black women should stop thinking they’re “cute” and focus on getting fit (’cause, you know, you can’t possibly find yourself attractive and work on your health at the same time).
What we rarely hear about, though, is how 70% of Black men, age 20 or over, are currently overweight. When it comes to high blood pressure, men have the ladies outnumbered; 26% of Black men are sufferers, in comparison to 23% of Black women. Type 2 diabetes? More Black men are being diagnosed with the disease and, unsurprisingly, 30% more Black men are succumbing to diabetes than women.
If “Black America” is facing such a serious health crisis, why isn’t the public fully informed? We see messages that tell Black women that one in four of us over the age of 55 has type 2 diabetes, and documentaries tell us how half of all Black children born today are bound to develop diabetes in their lifetimes, but what about men?
When Big Pun died of a heart attack in 2000, we kept our mouths shut. We didn’t tell men the alarmist’s trope: it could be you. When Fat Joe lost 100lbs and specifically mentioned his boy as a part of his motivation, we nodded, smiled, but we didn’t press anyone on it. We didn’t rub that in anyone’s faces and say “Look, you can do it!, too” When legendary Power 106 DJ Kurt “Big Boy” Alexander penned his weight loss memoir An XL Life: Staying Big At Half the Size, about his journey with his weight loss surgery, we didn’t hand copies of his book to the men in our lives en masse, hoping they’d take the hint.
Yet, the Internet is full of woman-bashing, fat-shaming and general-purpose hatred admonishing Black women for their size…