Black Women: Being Curvy Doesn't Mean Live Unhealthy
"Is my body too bootylicious for ya?" - Destiny's Child
A new study by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Foundation, which is being called the most extensive and nuanced look at the lives of black women in decades, found that although black women weigh more than white women, they are 66% more likely to have higher levels of self-esteem then their white counterparts.
It also suggests that 28% of black women say that being physically attractive is “very important,” compared with 11% of white women. White women, however, were more likely than black women to say being attractive was “somewhat important."
In December, there was a similar study on black women and body image conducted by the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life that yielded the same results: Black women are, in fact, happy being “thick.”
Researchers seem surprised - and somewhat fascinated - to find that black women love their bodies despite not meeting societal expectations to be thin. The Washington Post ran a 4-page story on the subject as if it is a new cultural trend.
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For so long, women have been bombarded with images and advertisements suggesting they must conform to Western standards of what beauty is. As if images aren’t enough, researchers present statistics to back up claims that the thinner you are the more attractive people find you:
What accounts for the markedly lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women? Black women are, on average, much heavier than non-black women.” –Psychology Today: “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?”
We know realistically this is not true, even for white women. So, I am not surprised by the findings considering we are a culture that glorifies curves and booties.
Being called “thick” is considered a compliment for most black women. Our conception of beauty runs deeper than the numbers on the scale. It includes how you put yourself together: clothes, hair, nails and make-up factor into how we carry and present ourselves. Our curves are not up for debate. Period.
What should to be heavily addressed, however, is our health and lifestyle habits. The new study suggests black women eat more fast-food and exercise less than white women, attributing to a higher body mass index (BMI) among African-American women.
Though we are comfortable carrying extra weight, we are a group that suffers at disproportionate rates when it comes to our health. We are more likely to suffer from heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and die from breast cancer than any other group (the list goes on).
It is important to love the skin you are in while not becoming complacent to living an unfit lifestyle. That doesn’t mean you have to drop 30 plus pounds to fit into the government’s standard of “healthy weight.” The goal should be to embrace who you are on the outside, while striving to be as healthy as possible on the inside. Find ways to incorporate physical activity into your hectic schedules. Studies show that exercising plays a large factor in reducing health risks.
How happy are you with your body? Do you think you are a healthy weight?
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