Do Women of Color Worry About a Little Junk in the Trunk?
When I was younger I was blessed with that good metabolism. I could eat and eat and eat and I was always slim. Even after my first child, I was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes rather quickly and I wasn’t really trying (thank you breastfeeding). But after my second child, boy did things change. Dramatically. It was like my metabolism said, “bye-bye, sayonara, see ya later, gator”
I’ve always said it takes nine months to put the baby weight on, so you should allow yourself some time to get it off—I don’t care what Hollywood is doing. Besides who needs that stress when you have a newborn to take care of and adore.
But when it was coming up on one year post birth and it was time for me to return to work, I started to panic. The panic, mind you, was purely self-inflicted. But working in a male dominated office, there was a lot of pressure on women to be fit and trim. And I wasn’t immune to those unspoken expectations.
The problem is black women typically have never had some of the same body image issues that our white sisters have. In the black and Latina communities ample thighs, hips and bottom are expected and even adored by our men. As my grandma used to say, “Don’t nobody want a bone but a dog.” In our culture, we all have a Big Mama—who was called that for a reason—and thick aunties and other matriarchs who cradled us in their ample bosoms.
Unfortunately as a result of this history, the lack of a stigma, and some poor dietary choices, black women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other ethnic groups, according to the Office of Minority Health. About four out of five African American women is overweight or obese. Hispanics have the second highest prevalence of obesity, at a 21 percent higher rate than whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ladies, we have some work to do. Obesity leads to heart disease, high blood pressure and a number of health related problems.
In my own weight loss battles, I’m always the person who would rather do 50 sit-ups than starve myself. I love to eat! But after my second child, the sit-ups weren’t working, the trainer wasn’t working, I was running, jumping rope and killing myself (to me) and nothing happened. How frustrating! It wasn’t until someone suggested South Beach that it all clicked for me. Nine pounds in one week! But it was like a metabolic breakthrough. Ever since then I try to maintain a low-carb lifestyle, and have been known to pull out the South Beach book when my favorite jeans get a little snug.
At the end of the day, maintaining your weight should be about your health not about unrealistic ideals of beauty or outdoing your skinny friend. We are moms, and we owe it to our children to be the healthiest women we can be.