Why Was I the Last to Know...I'm Fat?
My sister revealed to me that I was fat.
After the initial feelings of shock and heartbreak, I quickly realized I wasn't to blame. Apparently, fat was the thanks I got for honoring all those starving children in Africa. Fat was my reward for celebrating and mourning in the African American tradition of soul food. Fat was my crown for my glorified big bones that make black women tantalizingly thick. But fat was not the trophy I was expecting, so I set out to seek out and discard the myths that lead to my obesity.
Myth #1: Honor the African babies.
As a child, the starving children in Africa I saw on television with the protruding bellies looked like they would have done far better to have my sister's hand me downs than my mashed potatoes; however, I bought into the idea that eating all my food was in honor of those less fortunate.Countless times I would look down at my plate, feeling that if I took another bite I might explode but motivated to press on for the praise that came with eating all my food. Besides, a half eaten plate would get me turned around with the speech, 'Those kids in Africa would love to have that food." So I often stuffed myself; and, as I grew older, I found that stuffing myself had become habit. It was as if, full wasn't full until gluttony had ensued.What I didn't get was that this small effort for my people in the motherland of my ancestors was slowly chipping away at my health and adding it's mark to my waistline.
Myth #2: All things are celebrated and healed with soul food.
What's a girl to do when the hills and valleys of life beg for food? In my family, we eat to celebrate and to mourn. We eat together when we are in love and apart when love is lost. When you get right down to it, food is the main attraction for any family interaction. That wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't soul food, the kind of food that is drenched in unhealthy goodness and marinated in the love you feel when you take each artery clogging bite that leads to countless diseases and helps foster the idea that obesity is a genetic disposition rather than the result of poor eating habits. The latter is what I wasn't comprehending.
Myth #3: Thick is in.
Most importantly, Thickology had me thinking I was sexy. While the ideal size for another group of women may be 0, as a black woman curves are expected and glorified. Look at the music videos with the size eights with big rear ends plastered all over the screen. How’s about the black strip club where the stretch marks and kangaroo pouches are ignored if the behind is fat even if it is fake. And black female celebrities who do successfully take off the pounds- Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott, Monique- are often said to have looked better when they were heavy. The idea that thick, which in many cases is fat, is in has been ingrained in mine and most black women's psyche since we were small girls.
I came to the realization about many of these misguided beliefs within the weeks after my sister told me I was fat, and that has made all the difference. That was in January. Since then I have dropped close to thirty pounds. I changed my diet drastically and began to exercise daily. But most importantly I transformed the way i was thinking. Every so often the old mind set creeps in and I give in to the cravings, fail to work out or simply get discouraged because I feel I should be losing more. Afterwards, I turn to my wife who says something to remind me that I am looking better every day, or I turn to social media and find that there are many former classmates, friends, and family members who are sharing my struggle and are willing to encourage me or I just look in the mirror and boast to myself. Simply put, I do whatever it takes because I don't want to be fat.
(Scroll to the bottom and leave a comment!)