Fatness: My Thoughts

23 May
The Embodiment of Disobedience: Fat Black Women's Unruly Political Bodies

One of my favorite books.

The Embodiment of Disobedience: Fat Black Women’s Unruly Political Bodiesby Andrea Elizabeth Shaw is one of my all time favorites books. The officially description for this book is as follows:

Despite the West’s privileging of slenderness as an aesthetic ideal, the African Diaspora has historically displayed a resistance to the Western European and North American indulgence in ‘fat anxiety.’ The Embodiment of Disobedience explores the ways in which the African Diaspora has rejected the West’s efforts to impose imperatives of slenderness and mass market fat-anxiety. Author Andrea Shaw explores the origins and contradictions of this phenomenon, especially the cultural deviations in beauty criteria and the related social and cultural practices. Unique in its examination of how both fatness and blackness interact on literary cultural planes, this book also offers a diasporic scope that develops previously unexamined connections among female representations throughout the African Diaspora.

This book confirmed my feelings and thoughts towards fatness for women, black people, and especially black women. Fatness carries with it a lower social equity within many first world nations. Thinking critically about fatness, mobility, and healthy are critical to the future success of any nation and its citizens. Recently I read Why Black Women are Fat an article written by Alice Randall for the New York Times. Ms. Randall’s article states the following:

And it’s not only aesthetics that make black fat different. It’s politics too. To get a quick introduction to the politics of black fat, I recommend Andrea Elizabeth Shaw’s provocative book “The Embodiment of Disobedience: Fat Black Women’s Unruly Political Bodies.” Ms. Shaw argues that the fat black woman’s body “functions as a site of resistance to both gendered and racialized oppression.” By contextualizing fatness within the African diaspora, she invites us to notice that the fat black woman can be a rounded opposite of the fit black slave, that the fatness of black women has often functioned as both explicit political statement and active political resistance.

Historically, fatness has been a form of resistance for many people worldwide. Even though I feel that Ms. Randall’s heart was in the right place and I acknowledge the linguistic constraints of crafting a news article, I found her piece to be both an ill-informed piece and a damaging dagger aimed at the emotional well-being of fat black women. Instead of attacking fat black women for being in their bodies – fat – we need to investigate why these women are fat and equip them with the various tools that one would need to live a healthier life.

Fatness can be a response to many of life’s trials and tribulations. It can be an outward symbol of the  joyous celebration of life. Just as it could be a physical representation of someones inner pain. This article had me thinking about my own interactions with my body and its roundness. I went through my personal archive and found this old blog entry:

I was brought up with the idea that my body was ugly. I was told that I was fat, ugly, and too dark from childhood till my late teens. When I moved out and came to Ga for school I began to tackle this issues head on. I learned to love the natural state of my hair. I learned to love my black skin. I was beginning to love my body as well. What slowed down the process of self-love for me was a tragic event. In early 2003 I was raped. This changed the way I viewed my body. I began to lift weights to try and gain some strength. This resulted in my weight going up. I began to fall back into the ideology that my body was ugly.

So here I am 25 years old learning to love my body again. I have told myself that with my body I can’t wear certain things without looking like I’m trying too hard. (I hope that makes sense.) So when I meet women who love their bodies and have a very feminine gender expression I began to admire them.

Recently I went shopping for a bridal gown and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. The attendant made me feel like “a big white blob” (her words not mine). I couldn’t believe it, I was automatically reminded of all the things I have heard during my life time: your breast are too big to wear something like that, you think anybody wants to see your arms, etc.

I am still having these same types of conversations in my head. It is a struggle to see self-worth in something that society tells you that you should be ashamed of. Being fat may not be healthy but it is apart of who I am. A key component of living a healthy life is being able to love yourself. Embrace your fatness, work towards a healthier you, and a healthier life. Know that you are worthy and deserving  no matter what range your BMI falls into. 

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6 Responses to “Fatness: My Thoughts”

  1. flyingmermaidemily May 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Don’t know how I missed the mention of that book in the article, gonna git right on it, while endlessly adoring every ounce of you…………..

  2. glamcookie May 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    The book sounds really interesting. I think you should write one – you’re an articulate and thoughtful writer! I also want to hug ChildWeddedWife and tell her she is beautiful, inside and out. Not to mention GrownWeddedWife – she’s a hottie!

    • weddedwife May 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

      That just made my day…thank you so much.

  3. shortieskatt July 21, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    Reblogged this on Love me Happy and commented:
    My black is besutiful

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