Straight Talk About Feminine Aesthetics: Dress Size ≠ Curves; Fat Rolls ≠ Curves

*Audience Warning* If you can’t handle candid talk about obesity, please avert your eyes and stop reading HERE.

If you want to talk about (mostly White women’s) eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, that are few and far between among African-American women, please stop reading HERE.

If you want to pretend that talking about obesity among African-American women somehow equals encouraging Black women to adopt eating disorders, please stop reading HERE.

If you want to tell outright lies and claim the posts in this series have not been talking about obesity-related ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes, please stop reading HERE.

In terms of aesthetics, if you want to play dumb and pretend you can’t tell the difference between curves and fat rolls, please stop reading HERE.

Have all the dishonest trolls and hysterical, bad-faith dissenters gone away? Good, now the rest of us can get back to business.

This post is a follow-up to Part 1 and Part 2 of the Killing Ourselves Softly series of posts.

CURRENT DOGMA—REFUSAL TO CHEERLEAD OBESITY = BEING AN EXCLUSIONARY OPPRESSOR

The current dogma among large numbers of African-American women is what has been called “fat acceptance,” and the cheerleading of obesity. It’s taboo among African-American women to: (1) refuse to cheerlead obesity, and (2) openly speak of the very real negative consequences of obesity. God help any African-American woman (of any weight range) who openly warns against obesity and urges overweight African-American women to lose weight.

REALITY—AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN ARE DYING LEFT AND RIGHT DUE TO OBESITY-RELATED AILMENTS

While I was at work recently, I came to a shocking realization. It turns out that for at least the past 5 years, every time that an ambulance has been called to my work building to assist an employee, the stricken employee has been an African-American woman. Every . . . single . . . time. The ambulance has been called for four Black women. Some of them have had the ambulance called more than once. None of them are elderly. All of them are suffering from various chronic ailments such as high blood pressure, and so on. All of them are overweight or obese. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

DISSENTERS SEEM CURIOUSLY FIXATED ON DRESS SIZES

I’ve been talking about health and various health-related consequences of obesity from the very beginning. But I notice that the dissenters (of all types) seem strangely fixated on dress sizes. Here are a couple of examples. The first one is an exchange I had with a good-faith dissenter. During an earlier conversation, a good-faith dissenter asked,

Khadija, I’m reflecting on your ideas about Gabby and Semenya and the thought that the attention cast on them negatively impacts black women and undermines our beauty/femininity rep in mainstream culture. There are many black women who are LGBT identified, and many whose weight ranges from more than the size 2-6 beauty ideal, all the way to fat, as with white women in both cases. Is there a space for these black women in the Sojourner’s movement Khadija?

With the weight issue, I’ve heard variations on this question before at the previous blog. During that particular conversation, I replied as follows,

Whoever said that there wasn’t space for “these women in the Sojourners movement”? Where is that thought coming from? Where have I—or anybody else—said that there wasn’t space for these women? I’m also wondering where you got those dress size ranges from. I know that I have never spoken in terms of specific dress sizes. Where’s that coming from?

Which leads me to my next question—What does “support” look like, as you see it?

Does “support” mean ratifying everything and anything about what people are doing?

Does “support” mean remaining silent about aspects of certain situations that are problematic?

I’m curious: What would you have me say or do (that I’m not already doing) to demonstrate “support” for GLBT women and/or women who, as YOU described them, “whose weight ranges from more than the size 2-6 beauty ideal”?

If you read the post from the previous blog [that I had linked to in an earlier comment] (and some other posts from there), you’ll see that I’ve spoken out against bigotry against GLBT people. What else would you have me say to demonstrate my “support” (as you define “support”)?

I eagerly look forward to your reply.

. . . I’m happy I asked for some clarification; I think I now have a better understanding of your questions. Here’s my response:

I don’t have a separate policy position regarding overweight AA women. I also don’t have a separate policy position regarding AA lesbians.

I want the same thing (abundant life) for all AA women and girls.

The idea of separating AA lesbians or overweight AA women out of my work never occurred to me. When I’m talking to or about AA women and girls, I’m referring to ALL of us.

Being overweight or morbidly obese like Ms. Sidibe is not healthy for any AA woman or girl. There are real life, real world negative consequences attached to overweight/obesity. I firmly believe that AA women need to stop tripping about this. I would suggest that folks who haven’t already done so, take the time to read Tracy’s excellent guest post over at Christelyn’s house. Here’s part of it:

“Since last Friday, three women that I know have passed on. No, I’m not use the nice words for this – three women – two good friends of my mother’s and one brilliant caring friend of mine – ARE DEAD. Way before their time. My friend – a nurse, a mother, and a comedian that could make a statue laugh – had a heart attack sitting in her car. She was on her way home from work. They found her the next morning. DEAD.

She was a big woman: she would always tell me that one day she was going to join me on my walks. Like me, she had diabetes and high blood pressure. Like me, she ignored the signs of trouble – failing eyesight, tiredness, aching limbs, headaches – put her cares in the “hands of Jesus”, and kept right on eating. Eating. She would get upset when you got on her about her food choices. Or about how her weight fluctuations were affecting her hormones – she was getting the rash on her neck and damn near growing a beard.. “Ain’t nobody’s business but mine”….. She was 43. She had two kids. She had a husband. Now her business is their business – they have to bury her, and go on without her.”

So, I doubt that I’ll ever give a “hip, hip, hooray” in support of anybody being morbidly obese. I have changed my views about several key things; and I expect to continue to have evolving views as long as I’m alive. However, I just don’t see my views about AA women and obesity changing. Certainly not in order to accommodate the current fat acceptance dogma.

The bad-faith dissenters are also fixated on dress sizes. As I recently told one such bad-faith dissenter,

Please point out where I ever said “there are *no* WOC that deal with anorexia or bulimia issues.”

Respectfully, you’re reading things into my statement(s) that aren’t there. Let me repeat what I did say:

“The AA women who are dishonestly pretending that BW’s context is the same as WW’s context of dying from anorexia, bulimia, etc. already know better than that. They are LYING”

How many AA women do we see around us who are in the hospital due to anorexia and bulimia? How many AA Karen Carpenters are there? Can anybody name a . . . single . . . one?

As opposed to the legions of AA women we see around us who in are the hospital or dead due to doing nothing—absolutely nothing—about their obesity? If AA women were dropping dead in comparable numbers due to anorexia and bulimia, then I could take that sort of argument seriously. I believe that AA women use those arguments as PRETEXT to silence any honest conversation about obesity.

To my way of thinking, one has to examine what seems to be the driving motive behind the statement. What I’m looking for in guessing at the motives of any particular statement is overall intellectual honesty. I give folks’ statements less deference when I see that people are engaging in things like:

(1) Revisionist history (“AA women have always been ‘thick'”). No, if we examine the photos of random AA women from previous decades, most of them were slender.

(2) Inappropriately basing their arguments on other people’s circumstances:

(a) “There’s crime everywhere, so there’s no point in AAs leaving deadly Black neighborhoods.” Yes there’s some level of crime everywhere in the US, but NOT like the level of violence that routinely happens everyday in Black residential areas

(b)”What about anorexia and bulimia?” I say, “what about it?” I say that those women who suffer from that should seek treatment. But let’s not use WW’s context of having huge numbers of WF anorexics—including numbers of WW who have actually died from complications of anorexia—as a way of deflecting any and all discussion about the fact that most AA women are in denial about overweight and obesity. Large numbers of AA women are dying from the complications of doing NOTHING about overweight and obesity. We’re generally not falling out and dropping dead from anorexia like WW.

I will also note that I’ve been pushing the idea of seeking professional therapy all along. This never seems to register with the dissenters. I haven’t been saying “either/or.” I’ve been saying “both/and” all along. But women are so enraged at hearing their fat acceptance dogma/novocaine being challenged that they can’t hear the other things I’ve been saying all along.

You said, “(And before anyone asks, I’m a size 6 and former dancer. I think it’s somewhat telling of the conversation’s tenor that I’d feel compelled to include that, in light of concern that if I were any larger any objections to the principal message might well be dismissed without consideration.)”

NO, that feeling you have is NOT telling of the tenor of the conversation. With all due respect, that feeling is on YOU and YOU ALONE. Please point out where anybody has asked anybody else about their dress size. I don’t recall seeing anything like that here. I find it interesting that you’ve glossed over all the women who have described themselves as either currently overweight or overweight in the past who are in agreement with “the tenor of the conversation” here.

Another pattern I notice is that for the most part, it’s the dissenters who keep interjecting dress size into these obesity conversations. I NEVER speak (or think) in terms of dress size. Because there’s such a thing as being underweight and still overly fat (in other words, there are skinny people who have unfavorable body mass indexes).

The dope fiends and alcoholics I’ve observed have all sorts of objections and concerns regarding any and all rehabs they are referred to. Some of their objections and concerns are valid. But it’s always obvious that this is not what’s driving their quibbles about various rehab programs. What’s driving their quibbling is that they don’t want to change what they’re doing. Some of them are also fundamentally opposed to admitting that they have a problem. These SAME addict dynamics play out in many AA women’s discussions about obesity.

You said, “It’s clear there is a substantial portion of BW in denial about weight issues — I have several in my own family. But here and in other BWE blogs, there appears to be an equal amount of denial that that’s the *only* weight-related issue that might *ever* need addressing — especially since I know WW and AW who acquired their “smaller-spectrum” EDs pursuing what they thought “men might want”. And it really reads like that message is being headed that way on some of these blogs, particularly given the discussions’ emphasis and focus on marrying well.”

What other topics would you require me to discuss before I’m entitled to discuss this overall denial? Please give a list of prerequisite topics that you feel I should have discussed before discussing the denial. I’ll look over the list, and if I feel I have anything useful to say about any of those prerequisite topics, I’ll do posts on them. I’m totally serious.

In terms of the focus on marrying well, AA women can either get in better alignment with reality. Or they can continue to suffer the life-crippling consequences of trying to live on Fantasy Island. One such reality being that we live on a patriarchal planet; and that a woman’s fate and her children’s fate is largely determined by the type of man she has as her spouse, if any. The primary reason why so many AA women and their children are suffering is because they don’t have any effective male protectors and providers. The human norm is that these providers come in the form of legally wedded husbands. Baby daddies and shacked-up males have not proven to be effective protectors and providers. The proof is in the horrible and ever-worsening conditions in Black residential areas.

Peace.

. . . Oh, let’s take it from the top. {chuckling}

You said, “I also don’t believe, nor did I say, that it was a matter of prerequisites.”

I said prerequisites because that was a reasonable inference from your comment. You know, the same way you made what you felt were reasonable inferences from my statements. And I’m happy that you mentioned the idea of drawing reasonable inferences; this means you can’t play like you don’t know what that means when I draw the reasonable inferences from your statements. As you know, that reasonable inference thing works both ways.

Basically, you’re objecting to/quibbling about (however you want to characterize it) the discussion of Topic X (denial) in what you feel is the absence of discussion of Topic Y (eating disorders). I don’t share that quibble. Because from what I see, the prevalence of ED among AA women is very, very small relative to the prevalence of death-inducing denial. So, I put priority on dismantling the denial. Since the denial is the proximate cause of the vast majority of the obesity-related ailments that large numbers of AA women are suffering from.

You said, “To restate what I did say, I believe there’s a subset of BW that apparently don’t seem to merit a mention at all in the discussion as it seems to be framed on BWE blogs, let alone being mentioned in any particular order (i.e., before something else can be discussed).”

To my way of thinking, it’s not a matter of any particular subset of BW “meriting a mention,” it’s more a matter of setting priorities. I do get to set my own discussion priorities. I tend to prioritize and repeat the topics that have the highest impact in either direction (good or bad). On the bad side, I tend to linger on the things that are literally killing AA women (such as this obesity denial thing). On the good side, I tend to linger on topics that can have a huge positive impact on AA women’s life circumstances (such as the creation of additional income streams).

You said, “And, again, the reason I think it’s relevant is that the overarching discussion appears to be about mate selection, and body weight’s (and the appearance of health, not necessarily health itself, though that’s a different discussion for another day) relevance thereto.”

[Bad-faith Dissenter], much of what you’re saying has the lingering odor of bad faith arguments (which I’ll get to later). But here you’ve crossed the line into outright dishonesty. I’ve been talking about health all along—don’t tell that greasy lie and say that I haven’t, or that I’ve only been talking about the appearance of health. I’ve also been talking about the impact of overweight and obesity on women’s options in terms of acquiring a quality husband.

You said, “And I see the similarity of the discussion’s tenor to the “Be small or men won’t want you” tenet that’s been part of the WW/AW/JW communities for a long time, and how that’s led to what I call “small-side” EDs on those communities based on womens’ fears that “fat” is now something around size 8. And I see BW being encouraged, in BWE discussions, to adapt large parts of those other women’s mate selection processes.

And I will repeat – again – that I don’t see anything wrong with that generally.
(After all, it’s kind of the point.)”

It’s time for another round of “Let’s Draw The Reasonable Inference.” You’re trying to link eating disorders with the “sin” of engaging in an honest conversation about AA women and overweight/obesity. You tossing the statement that you “don’t see anything wrong with that generally” at the end of that section of your comment doesn’t disguise the thrust of what you apparently want to accomplish with your comment:

(1) Muddy the waters by interjecting WW’s and Asian women’s eating disorders (which is something that relatively few AA women are engaged in—relative to the numbers of AA women who are in total denial) into a discussion of AA women’s denial.

(2) Try to establish some sort of requirement that Topic X (denial) can’t reasonably be discussed unless Topic Y (eating disorders—specifically eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia that has thus far NOT manifested in great numbers among AA women) is also discussed.

(3) Trying to draw an equivalence between any honest discussion of AA women’s denial with encouraging the rise of (WW’s and AW’s anorexia & bulimia style of) eating disorders among AA women.

All of this is bad-faith. Bad-faith statements and deliberate mischaracterizations of what has been said. With the purpose of shutting down (or at minimum deflecting) any honest discussion of AA women, overweight, obesity, and their denial.

You referred to “(frequently with the middle class values that are also touted as part of the BWE discussion)…”

I hope you don’t think there’s something wrong with “middle class values.” Too many AAs have all sorts of twisted and hateration-based ideas about middle-class anything.

You said, “(However, I also don’t generally believe it’s helpful to get into a peripheral discussion pattern of people challenging one another to point out whether something was or wasn’t explicitly stated, as in: “I didn’t say X. Please point out where I said X”, so I’ll only say all that this once.”

[Bad-faith Dissenter], I don’t care if you think it’s not helpful for me to challenge you to point out what you FALSELY claim are my statements. Game-players usually don’t like it when their game is interrupted. Let me emphasize something that I’ve said a couple of times before in a few other conversations: I’m not a cheek-turning Christian. I respond to y’all with the SAME vibe—whatever it is—you use with me. I think that some of y’all are accustomed to using other people’s sense of manners and decorum as a way of turning them into whipping girls/boys. I’m not the one. Outright garbage and more subtle types of bad faith statements will be challenged here.

So, [Bad-faith Dissenter,] back to you—when you start engaging in bad-faith arguments, I start responding to you in ways that challenge your bad-faith arguments. When I see somebody playing a bad-faith game, I start shutting down that game.

Let me summarize what you’ve been doing. And since you understand the concept of drawing reasonable inferences, you’re sophisticated enough to understand when I describe some of the interlocking bad-faith rhetorical techniques you’ve been engaged in with your comments:

(1) You’ve been (deliberately, I believe) mischaracterizing what I’ve been saying. That lie about the posts and/or conversations being about “the appearance of health, not necessarily health itself.” The crack about a particular subset of BW not “meriting a mention.”

(2) In connection with the above, you’ve been making loaded statements that “assume facts not in evidence”:

(a) Assuming that “honest discussion about obesity” EQUALS “encouraging AA women to adopt eating disorders that are mostly seen among WW.”

(b) Assuming that there are comparable numbers of AA women engaging in the same eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia) that WW and AW are engaged in.

(3) Interjecting material that’s totally non-responsive to the conversation at hand. Such as your little semi-veiled dig about “middle class values.”

(4) Trying to create new rules for the conversation. The implied argument that I shouldn’t talk about Topic X (AA women, obesity, and denial) without also talking about Topic Y (the anorexia and bulimia that have not manifested in huge numbers among AA women).

I’m never pleased when discussion participants waste other participants’ time (including my time) with bad-faith statements. Which is what you’ve been doing thus far during this conversation. So, I can’t thank you for your response because it was some bad-faith mess.

Peace.

HONEST TALK ABOUT AESTHETICS AND THE FEMININE HOURGLASS SHAPE

Dress Size ≠ Curves. There are several reasons I don’t think or speak in terms of dress sizes. First, there’s such a thing as a person being underweight and still overly fat (having an unfavorable body mass index). Second, even in terms of aesthetics, a dress size alone does not give much meaningful information about a woman’s overall “look.” That’s more a matter of proportions. Two women could wear the same dress size and have very different looks. One Size Whatever woman could be shaped like a pencil, with no real curves. Another Size Whatever woman could have the generally-preferred hourglass shape.

THE HOURGLASS SHAPE IS ACHIEVED WITH A SET OF RATIOS BASED ON A WOMAN’S HEIGHT—NOT BY ANY PARTICULAR WEIGHT OR DRESS SIZE

How closely any particular woman approximates the hourglass shape is not determined by dress size or weight. It’s determined by a set of specific ratios based on her height:

  • Height to Waist Ratio
  • Waist to Hip Ratio
  • Waist to Shoulder Ratio

As you can see, dress size and weight measured in pounds don’t speak to these body proportions. If we’re going to talk about actual curves and having a particular type of curvy shape (hourglass), then we need to talk about these ratios. The designers of the Venus Index exercise program talk about this in great detail in their program. [Incidentally, for gentleman readers, they’re also the creators of the men’s Adonis Index program.] The basic idea is that there are certain proportions (sometimes called the golden ratio) that are pleasing to the human eye.

MICHELIN MAN-TYPE FAT ROLLS ARE NOT THE SAME AS HOURGLASS CURVES

Fat Rolls ≠ Curves. Some concrete examples are appropriate. Please look at the following photos of the plus-size models in the Brazilian ad discussed in this blog post. The (straight) men and the one lesbian I polled found the first model—let’s call her Rose Petal Woman—the most attractive out of the three models. I can see why: she’s the one who’s closest to having hourglass proportions. The other two models have a shape closer to Michelin Man inner tubes. Rose Petal Woman has some curves, not just some fat rolls. Again, hourglass curves are based on each woman’s individual proportions.

ROSE PETAL WOMAN’S SHAPE IS NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE TYPICAL OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE WOMAN’S SHAPE

Let’s be real. Most of the overweight and obese women running around chanting “I love my curves” don’t have curves. Not like Rose Petal Woman. What they actually have are fat rolls.

And let’s be real about Rose Petal Woman. We can see her shape because she’s essentially nude. If Rose Petal Woman wears clothes that aren’t carefully fitted to highlight her proportions, then she will appear to have the silhouette of the Michelin Man’s inner tubes (while fully clothed).

Furthermore, Rose Petal Woman is still overweight. The excess weight isn’t as damaging to her looks as it could be. This is because her proportions approximate an hourglass shape. People generally don’t perceive Michelin Man shapes as attractive for women. Several of the people I polled complimented Rose Petal Woman. None of the (admittedly small sample of) people polled had anything complimentary to say about the other two models.

OKAY, I GET IT—WHAT CAN I DO WHILE I WORK TO LOSE THE EXCESS WEIGHT?

One of the White women at work has a Rose Petal Woman sort of thing going on. She’s an attractive woman. I’d guess that she’s around 30 pounds overweight. Of course, I have no idea if the approximately hourglass shape she appears to have while clothed is her actual shape while undressed. But I have noticed that she’s careful to choose clothes that help give her that hourglass appearance. I would also guess she probably wears a girdle. There are always helpful things a person can do even while they’re in the process of getting themselves together. The point is to do what you can . . . with what you have . . . where you are.

December 9, 2010   86 Comments

Killing Ourselves Softly, Part 2: Stop Falling Into The “I’ll Start Next Monday” Trap

*Audience Warning* If you can’t handle candid talk about obesity, please avert your eyes and stop reading HERE.

This post is a follow-up to Part 1 of this series. I’ve been reading some fascinating books by Steve Siebold called How Rich People Think, and Die Fat Or Get Tough: 101 Differences In Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People. In both books, he describes the differences between how achievers think (he calls them “world class”) and how the mediocre masses think (he refers to them as “the middle class”).

He makes some profound points that extend far beyond the issues of money and fitness. Much of what he says reveals the self-imposed obstacles created by delusional thinking. I believe there’s much that most African-American women can learn from his books because many of us are literally dying for our delusions. We cling to delusions that gradually diminish our lives and even kill us. Instead of facing the harsh realities that can spur us toward seeking abundant life.

RECOGNIZE THAT YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO WAIT UNTIL “NEXT MONDAY” TO MAKE A CHANGE

In Die Fat Or Get Tough, Mr. Siebold says,

Fat people believe they can always start over on Monday. Fit people know Monday is never coming.
Narcotics are the scourge of the poverty class. Alcohol is a killer of the working class. Self-delusion is the addiction of the middle class. While fat people delude themselves into believing they can continue starting over on Monday and eventually succeed, critical thinkers recognize this common psychological trap. The core belief is “I can eat the same and get different results.”

. . . With the majority of the media and advertisers supporting their belief that diets don’t work, [uncommitted dieters] feel vindicated and go right back to eating like a fat person. Critical thinkers know that saying diets don’t work is like saying exercise doesn’t work. It’s a ridiculous claim that’s perpetuated for the purpose of manipulating the masses to buy the latest pill, potion or wonder drug that will make them thin and healthy. So the masses feel comfortable while they eat themselves into an early grave, and the producers of the cure-alls laugh all the way to the bank.

. . . Critical thinkers take full responsibility for their results, and rarely believe profit driven claims that make the difficult appear easy. Starting over (again) Monday is an endless loop that keeps people fat forever.

(emphasis added)

Amazon Kindle Locations through 437-42 through 442-52.

WHEN YOU WAIT UNTIL “NEXT MONDAY,” YOU’RE ACTUALLY WAITING FOR A CRISIS THAT WILL FORCE YOU TO MAKE A CHANGE

When you wait until “next Monday,” you’re actually waiting for a crisis to happen that will force you to make some changes.

  • When you wait until “next Monday” to begin developing additional income streams, you’re actually waiting to be laid off before you take that action.
  • When you wait until “next Monday” to improve your dietary choices, you’re actually waiting to become diabetic before you take that action.
  • When you wait until “next Monday” to start exercising, you’re actually waiting until you have a stroke or heart attack before you take that action. You’re actually waiting to do some rehabilitative physical therapy.

Waiting until circumstances force you to take action usually doesn’t work out very well. Why in the world would you wait for these sorts of things to happen before taking action? How much longer do you plan to wait?

November 13, 2010   25 Comments

Killing Ourselves Softly, Part 1: Recognize That Nobody Is Coming To Rescue You

*Audience Warning* If you can’t handle candid talk about obesity, please avert your eyes and stop reading HERE.

I’ve been reading some fascinating books by Steve Siebold called How Rich People Think, and Die Fat Or Get Tough: 101 Differences In Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People. In both books, he describes the differences between how achievers think (he calls them “world class”) and how the mediocre masses think (he refers to them as “the middle class”).

He makes some profound points that extend far beyond the issues of money and fitness. Much of what he says reveals the self-imposed obstacles created by delusional thinking. I believe there’s much that most African-American women can learn from his books because many of us are literally dying for our delusions. We cling to delusions that gradually diminish our lives and even kill us. Instead of facing the harsh realities that can spur us toward seeking abundant life.

THE ONE DELUSION THAT UNDERGIRDS ALL OTHER DELUSIONS

The first delusion that’s killing many African-American women softly is the belief that somebody is going to rescue us. This one delusion is much like The One Ring in The Lord Of The Rings. The delusion that somebody else is going to rescue us is the underlying, controlling source of many other self-destructive behaviors, such as the inappropriate “therapy talk” that I’ve criticized. Too many African-American women believe that if only they scream out their pain loud enough in public, that somebody’s going to do something to alleviate that pain. No. Instead, all that happens is that we “other” ourselves in the eyes of the world at large. Also, our public yelps of pain become a source of pleasure and entertainment for the people who hate us, such as the Yung Bergs of the world.

The delusion that somebody else is going to rescue us is why we do very little to rescue ourselves. And so, many of us literally die of preventable, obesity-related ailments.

In Die Fat Or Get Tough, Mr. Siebold says,

Fat people are waiting to be rescued from obesity. Fit people know no one is coming to the rescue.
The middle-class mindset is famous for waiting for the hero on the white horse to rescue him from his problems. Whether it’s their parents, the government, their spouse or the company they work for, many people have a deep rooted belief that it’s somebody else’s responsibility to make them healthy, wealthy and happy. So when they get fat, not only do they blame the food companies and restaurants, they also expect something or someone to show up and save them from themselves. The great ones know if they get fat the only person who can save them is the man in the mirror. The mantra of the world-class thinker has always been the same: I am responsible.

This is the cornerstone of their success in everything they do. If they need coaching, mentoring or support, they ask for it without hesitation. The difference is no matter how much help they receive, they believe their success or failure is up to them. They refuse to blame anyone else for their shortcomings. If they lose focus and gain weight, you can bet it won’t be long before they’re back at their ideal weight, stronger than ever. Of course this is the general philosophy of world-class thinkers, so they are able to apply it in all areas of their lives. If you’ve ever wondered why some people seem to have it all, stop wondering and start dissecting their beliefs and philosophies on life and living. That’s where their success begins.

Die Fat Or Get Tough, Amazon Kindle Locations 188-98.

FROGS IN A GRADUALLY BOILING POT TELLING OTHER FROGS THAT IT’S “UNREALISTIC” TO JUMP OUT

Intertwined with the rescue delusion is the frequent refusal to accept responsibility for our own choices. This includes most African-Americans’ free and voluntary choice of refusing to even try to upgrade their life circumstances. Instead of taking action in support lifestyle optimization, we proclaim all such strategies to be “unrealistic.” Meanwhile, we watch people from other ethnic and racial groups use these same strategies that we’ve labeled “unrealistic” to get ahead. In fact, for almost a century, we’ve watched several waves of immigrants (including some Black-skinned ones) come to this country and do all sorts of “unrealistic” things.

I’m reminded of this because I recently ran across a comment by a detractor over at The Black Snob Blog. My frequent discussion of strategies for developing additional income streams and international relocation options seems to frighten and upset this individual. According to her, this sort of conversation is “unrealistic.” I upset her even more when I spoke of sitting out this recent election, and researching third party candidates that I could wholeheartedly support in future elections.

This concerned individual proclaimed that, “. . . The truth is that MOST Americans of any race do not (and will never) have the resources or wealth to thrive even when the economy is not doing well and most Americans CANNOT run to a foreign country at will. We have to try to fix things here. If we throw our hands up in the air and do nothing, then we are GUARANTEED to fail. I hope that most black women will go out there and vote tomorrow, even though they may currently feel discouraged or disappointed.” See the comments to this post at The Black Snob Blog for the entire comment.

I wonder if this concerned individual believes that it’s more “realistic” for African-American women to continue hoping for new programs in the midst of a failing economy. Thereby putting their fates in the hands of the American voting public—roughly half of whom have repeatedly shown themselves to be insane.

Here’s the thing: While various Black “frogs in a gradually boiling pot” are busy telling each other that various strategies are not feasible, other people—who are much poorer than even the poorest African-Americans—are busy using these same strategies to upgrade their lives.

The November 6, 2010, issue of the New York Times featured a story titled “In Venezuela, A New Wave of Foreigners.” Among other people, the story mentioned a gentleman named Etienne Dieu-Seul, a street vendor who arrived in Venezuela from Haiti a month before the earthquake.

At the other end of the economic spectrum, many new immigrants continue to arrive on tourist visas and overstay their visits, drawn by incomes that are still higher than those in some of Venezuela’s neighbors and by a broad array of social welfare programs for the poor championed by Mr. Chávez’s government.

“One can live with a little bit of dignity here, at least enough to send money home now and again,” said Etienne Dieu-Seul, 35, a Haitian street vendor, who moved here a month before the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January. After the disaster, officials here said they would grant residence visas to the 15,000 Haitians believed to have been here illegally.

I would bet that Mr. Dieu-Seul the street vendor is very thankful he did something as “unrealistic” and “not feasible” as leaving desperately poor Haiti to go to Venezuela. The people in Haiti that he’s sending money to are probably also very thankful.

I won’t even get into the steady stream of American retirees on fixed incomes who relocate overseas each year in order to live much better for much less money. There’s nothing “unrealistic” about taking the minimal action steps of getting a passport and researching your options. Ladies, keep in mind that there are a lot of nervous crabs in a barrel out there who are deeply frightened by the idea that you might make the leap into abundant life. It’s one thing to discuss the hurdles and difficulties involved with an undertaking. I’ve never pretended that making any of these moves is easy. All the things I talk about involve putting in effort and work. Some of us don’t want to put in that sort of effort, so we proclaim various things to be impossible or unrealistic.

Mr. Siebold mentioned this type of thinking when he said,

Fat people believe diets don’t work. Fit people believe people don’t work.
Americans have been programmed to believe diets don’t work because of the inability of the average person to stick to them, and their unwillingness to take responsibility for their own failure.

. . . Exacerbating the delusion of the masses are the weight loss companies telling people getting fat isn’t their fault. Of course, this makes fat people feel comfortable with their failures, and comfort is the most important thing to the middle-class consciousness. . . . To add insult to injury, these diet companies have the audacity to brainwash the masses into believing losing and maintaining their weight will be easy and effortless.

Amazon Kindle Locations 166-74 through 174-84.

Ladies, there are many people who make their money from telling you comforting lies. Lies they know you desperately want to believe. Most of these lies translate into the fantasy of being able to keep doing what you’ve been doing, and somehow get a different result than what you’ve been getting. I know how hard it can be to let go of comforting fairy tales, but that’s what it takes to move forward in the real world.

LET GO OF THE HIVE MENTALITY TRICK BAG

In addition, there’s also the unfortunate hive mentality that tells many Black women they can’t or shouldn’t make any moves toward abundant life unless or until there’s a solution in place for every other African-American in the US. That’s self-defeating and downright crazy. Let go of that Hive Mentality Trick Bag.

IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE REAL TALK THAT WILL BE FEATURED IN THIS SERIES, PLEASE DON’T READ THESE “KILLING OURSELVES SOFTLY” ESSAYS

There’s a difference between the necessary and ultimately beneficial discomfort of facing reality, versus undue, full-blown emotional distress. I’m not trying to cause anybody emotional distress. And if reading this series of Killing Ourselves Softly posts is causing you emotional distress, please STOP reading these posts.

PLEASE DON’T IMITATE BLACK UNDERCLASS CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS IN YOUR COMMENTS TO THESE POSTS

When I was still involved in servicing the Black underclass, there was a certain type of client interaction that I stopped putting up with past a certain point. Unlike more successful (professional) criminals, Black underclass defendants generally have the self-destructive mental habit of being so emotionally invested in defending their point of view, they miss the larger point of whatever’s going on. Their point of view usually means “pity parties” and expecting other people to feel sorry for them. Here’s an example of a typical conversation with a Black underclass defendant,

Black Underclass Client: That cop was wrong!
Me: Yeah, but do you understand that it was NOT a good idea to yell out ‘F____ you!’ and kick the side of the police car?

Black Underclass Client: You’re not on my side.
Me: It’s my duty to tell you the truth about your case, not only what you want to hear. The same way when I see my doctor, I want her to tell me the truth. I don’t want her telling me happy talk unless it’s actually true.

Contrast this with how other types of people (including more professional criminals), who tend to be more rational, respond,

Professional Criminal Client: What am I looking at?
Me: From X to Y if convicted.

Professional Criminal Client: What are my odds?
Me: [whatever they appear to be for that particular case]

Professional Criminal Client: What can be done [to improve those odds]?
Me: X, Y, Z. [For example, things like retaining an expert witness, etc.]

Please don’t imitate Black underclass defendants and write in with “you’re not on overweight Black women’s side” arguments. As I detailed at the previous blog, I’ve had my own adventures (sometimes misadventures) with using the Power 90/P90X programs. Including this little episode from the third week of the program,

Today is Day 19 of the Power 90 program.

The Awful Truth
Day 13: I had a 1-day Rage Against the Diet Plan Rebellion. Including NO anti-cancer juicing with Brussels sprouts. And NO anti-cancer cup of sencha green tea. What was truly upsetting is that the junk food I ate didn’t even taste right anymore!!! Including my beloved, deep-fried seafood from Long John Silver’s. {throwing my arms up in the air in disgust}

This “not tasting right” is what happens when you indulge in grease, sugar, and processed “foods” after you’ve stepped away from it for any amount of time. Feh!

Oh well, I got back in the dietary saddle the next day.

Gold Stars
I’ve been faithfully doing the workouts. I don’t mind the repetition of the weight training workout, but it does bother me with the cardio portion. So, every once in a while I’ll substitute Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred workout for the cardio portion. Her workout is also hard, and there are NO breaks! [Thanks for the video recommendation, Kia!]

Things The Personal Trainer Told Me Years Ago
Don’t live or die by the scale. Especially during the first 45 days of any program. Body composition is as important as pounds. Muscle mass weighs more than fat. You can lose fat and gain muscle mass, which can cause the numbers on the scale to stop moving. This is why it’s so important to take tape measurements of yourself at the beginning. Measure your progress during the first 45 days by [fractional] inches lost, and how your clothes are fitting you. NOT by pounds.

What’s going on with you? How are your Wildest Dreams coming along?

{chuckling at the memory and at myself}

In terms of the obesity issue, let me repeat some things I said in this earlier post,

CURRENT DOGMA—REFUSAL TO CHEERLEAD OBESITY = BEING AN EXCLUSIONARY OPPRESSOR

The current dogma among large numbers of African-American women is what has been called “fat acceptance,” and the cheerleading of obesity. It’s taboo among African-American women to: (1) refuse to cheerlead obesity, and (2) openly speak of the very real negative consequences of obesity. God help any African-American woman (of any weight range) who openly warns against obesity and urges overweight African-American women to lose weight.

REALITY—AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN ARE DYING LEFT AND RIGHT DUE TO OBESITY-RELATED AILMENTS

While I was at work last week, I came to a shocking realization. It turns out that for at least the past 5 years, every time that an ambulance has been called to my work building to assist an employee, the stricken employee has been an African-American woman. Every . . . single . . . time. The ambulance has been called for four Black women. Some of them have had the ambulance called more than once. None of them are elderly. All of them are suffering from various chronic ailments such as high blood pressure, and so on. All of them are overweight or obese. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

During a recent conversation, a reader asked,

Khadija, I’m reflecting on your ideas about Gabby and Semenya and the thought that the attention cast on them negatively impacts black women and undermines our beauty/femininity rep in mainstream culture. There are many black women who are LGBT identified, and many whose weight ranges from more than the size 2-6 beauty ideal, all the way to fat, as with white women in both cases. Is there a space for these black women in the Sojourner’s movement Khadija?

With the weight issue, I’ve heard variations on this question before at the previous blog. During this most recent conversation, I replied as follows,

Whoever said that there wasn’t space for “these women in the Sojourners movement”? Where is that thought coming from? Where have I—or anybody else—said that there wasn’t space for these women? I’m also wondering where you got those dress size ranges from. I know that I have never spoken in terms of specific dress sizes. Where’s that coming from?

Which leads me to my next question—What does “support” look like, as you see it?

Does “support” mean ratifying everything and anything about what people are doing?

Does “support” mean remaining silent about aspects of certain situations that are problematic?

I’m curious: What would you have me say or do (that I’m not already doing) to demonstrate “support” for GLBT women and/or women who, as YOU described them, “whose weight ranges from more than the size 2-6 beauty ideal”?

If you read the post from the previous blog [that I had linked to in an earlier comment] (and some other posts from there), you’ll see that I’ve spoken out against bigotry against GLBT people. What else would you have me say to demonstrate my “support” (as you define “support”)?

I eagerly look forward to your reply.

. . . I’m happy I asked for some clarification; I think I now have a better understanding of your questions. Here’s my response:

I don’t have a separate policy position regarding overweight AA women. I also don’t have a separate policy position regarding AA lesbians.

I want the same thing (abundant life) for all AA women and girls.

The idea of separating AA lesbians or overweight AA women out of my work never occurred to me. When I’m talking to or about AA women and girls, I’m referring to ALL of us.

Being overweight or morbidly obese like Ms. Sidibe is not healthy for any AA woman or girl. There are real life, real world negative consequences attached to overweight/obesity. I firmly believe that AA women need to stop tripping about this. I would suggest that folks who haven’t already done so, take the time to read Tracy’s excellent guest post over at Christelyn’s house. Here’s part of it:

“Since last Friday, three women that I know have passed on. No, I’m not use the nice words for this – three women – two good friends of my mother’s and one brilliant caring friend of mine – ARE DEAD. Way before their time. My friend – a nurse, a mother, and a comedian that could make a statue laugh – had a heart attack sitting in her car. She was on her way home from work. They found her the next morning. DEAD.

She was a big woman: she would always tell me that one day she was going to join me on my walks. Like me, she had diabetes and high blood pressure. Like me, she ignored the signs of trouble – failing eyesight, tiredness, aching limbs, headaches – put her cares in the “hands of Jesus”, and kept right on eating. Eating. She would get upset when you got on her about her food choices. Or about how her weight fluctuations were affecting her hormones – she was getting the rash on her neck and damn near growing a beard.. “Ain’t nobody’s business but mine”….. She was 43. She had two kids. She had a husband. Now her business is their business – they have to bury her, and go on without her.”

So, I doubt that I’ll ever give a “hip, hip, hooray” in support of anybody being morbidly obese. I have changed my views about several key things; and I expect to continue to have evolving views as long as I’m alive. However, I just don’t see my views about AA women and obesity changing. Certainly not in order to accommodate the current fat acceptance dogma.

Ladies, the hour is late. It’s later than many of us think. These delusions are killing us softly. I won’t tiptoe around them anymore.

November 11, 2010   98 Comments