On May 6, International No Diet Day, the New York Times published an op-ed by Alice Randall titled "Why Black Women Are Fat" (the title was later changed to "Black Women and Fat" but the web page URL uses the original title). The op-ed argued that "many black women are fat because we want to be" and used scaremongering statistics to claim that this needs to change.
Jamilah Lemieux at Ebony wrote a superb response.
Lemieux doesn't question the OMGbesity rhetoric directly; she criticizes what she calls "the lucrative 'Inherent Deficiency Industry'" (I love that term) and the genre of writing that she calls "writings designed to help The World understand just what in the hell is wrong with Black Women."
Our problems are always tied to the unique condition that is being Black and female and we are so fascinating, so curious to The World, that they just can’t help but to grab the popcorn and the Dasani and peer closely into the cage that separates us from them.She asks
"Where’s my critical beatdown from a race scholar like Tim Wise --“Why White People Are Racist”? The Times don’t wanna go there? Where’s “Why Black People Can’t Find Jobs?” Where’s “How the Prison Industrial Complex—and Not Bad Attitudes and Over-Achieving—Keeps Black Women Single?”Yeah.
Meanwhile, the Health at Every Size blog is helping prepare us for HBO's new series The Weight of the Nation with a post titled "the HAES files: Stereotype Management Skills for HBO Viewers."
It's a simple, thorough, and powerful deconstruction of the obesity epidemic concept
The main flaw in the traditional view is to think that if an event happens in the life of fat people, it is because they are fat. All of us are trained to think this way, but there are some questions to ask that can help reverse the brainwashing:It also includes facts about the supposed obesity epidemic:
“Does this happen to thin people too?”
It points out that weight loss for health is based on an assumption that has never been proven: "A weight-suppressed fat person has
- The “epidemic” refers to a rise of 10-15 pounds in the average weight of US adults between 1980 and 1999....
- The pictures illustrating “two-thirds of US adults are overweight or obese” are almost universally of people who represent less than 1% of the population.
- The range of weights considered problematic in children was tripled in 2007 for no scientific reason, from the 95th percentile and up, to the 85th percentile and up....pediatricians agree that even the 95th percentile and higher does not necessarily signify ill health.
- Type II diabetes in children is so rare that the CDC has not been able to accurately estimate prevalence.
the medical risk profile of a thin person."
Another gem in the article is the "Stereotype/Stigma Management Worksheet," which includes such advice as "Expect stereotyping. Budget it in" (I love the concept of a stereotyping budget. I'd certainly rather not have it be a budget item, but the concept suggests that it's a somewhat predictable and manageable energy expense if studied carefully enough) and also "Foster your drive to be seen as your real self. Remember, you are more lovable than the stereotype!"
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