Over the weekend, Boris Kodjoe’s fingers got a little loose on Twitter. “Had nightmares thought about 300-pound women in thongs gnawing on chicken wings while grinding on me. Scary. Gotta Love North Carolina.”
He did a quick save when his plus-sized followers asked what exactly he was trying to say.
“Just to make it clear. I love all women,” Kodjoe added. “As a community we have to be more conscious of our health. The numbers are shocking.”
Kodjoe went on to cite stats such as 4 out of 5 African-American women are overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Department of Minority Health. And then he added a list of #fatexcuses that people use to avoid hitting the gym: I don’t have time, it’s boring and I like fried foods. (He should have added I don’t want to mess up my hair.) #fatexcuses eventually became a trending topic.
Being an unlikely spokesman for this topic, Kodjoe took some flack for his comments; especially from those who believed his concern for Black women’s health was disingenuous. That’s probably accurate, but I’m inclined to separate the messenger from the message. Boris may not have been the best person to say it, but it needed to be said.
Curvy. Juicy. Thick. Fluffy. Full-figured. Some meat on her bones and whole lotta’ woman! These are the euphemisms too many of us have been using to delude ourselves out of accepting the truth: ladies, a lot of us are fat!
In my book, I dedicated a whole chapter, “Weighty Matters?” to Black women’s size — after I discovered 60% of Black women are physically inactive, according to an Aetna study on women’s health. Eighty-two percent of African-American women over 40 are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
And I know, I know, just because you’re thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy and big women can be healthy too. I hear ya, Sister! These studies may be using a bar that does not take into account the uniqueness of some Black women’s bodies, but that wouldn’t exempt everyone. As long as you’re doing some form of physical exercise almost daily (although daily is recommended), I’m going to give you low-fat, small portion brownie points.
But if you are fat and fall into that 60% who are not being active on the daily, you are who I am speaking to about being in denial about your health. I know it’s not easy to lose weight, and as a friend told me when I complained about getting fluffy… er, fat after eating well and partying hard for six weeks when I was on the road to promote my book, “Uh, D, that’s why it’s called a workout.”
Since then, I’ve been on the treadmill running (and panting) hard, have left sweat, tears and three pounds on the treadmill already this week. I’m taking an active first step to get my body into shape.
Ladies, what will you do to join me?
Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. She has recently been nominated for an African American Literary Award. Vote for her now on literaryawardshow.com