Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Am I The Only One Sick Of Hearing About Oprah And Her Battle Of The Bulge?

There is probably not a black woman alive that can't sympathize with Oprah and her battles with her weight, but I've had enough this time. Oprah is just too damn dishonest and delusional about realistic weight loss, exercise, eating, and most importantly, her black woman's body type. I hate the way she keeps looking for a magic pill to control her weight and I really hate the way she talks about body image.

Oprah talks about "being skinny" and Oprah has never been skinny except that time she starved herself to death on that liquid diet. Oprah has been in shape and that was awesome, but to hear her talking about being "skinny" drives me nuts. "Skinny" and "thin" are white women's body image lingo, not black women's language. And what in the hell exactly is "falling off the wagon" when dealing weight?

Also, I have a hard time feeling sorry for a billionaire that can hire a cook, trainer, nutritionist, workout buddy, and masseuse to help her get and stay in shape. Not to mention someone that has the luxury to workout whenever, wherever, she likes and then take a long-ass nap after working out. Oprah needs to get realistic about her weight issues or just go get her stomach stapled and shut the hell up!

And she needs to stop making up bogus excuses. The business about her thyroid is laughable because there are pills, special diets, and workouts for people who have a thyroid imbalance. I should know, part of my thyroid was removed when I was a teenager, I have been dealing with my sluggish thyroid ever since, but I don't use it as an excuse in my struggles with my weight. As Chris Tucker in Rush Hour 3 said to the overweight woman complaining about a thyroid problem..."stop eating thyroid then."

If Oprah wants to help herself and other black women like her, she needs to accept that she will ALWAYS have a weight problem. Always! Losing and regaining weight becomes mentally and emotionally ugly whenever a woman believes she has kicked her weight problem. It just doesn't work that way.

Weight issues are not just about food and working out, particularly for black women. Oprah could help by focusing her next weight loss effort specifically on the struggles of black women. Many black women in 2009 need to dedicate themselves to losing weight, becoming more active, and just improving their overall health. Oprah could partner with the Black Women's Health Project and start something just like Dr. Ian Smith's 50 Million Pound Weight Challenge, just for black women.

In fact, I ain't gonna be waiting on Ms. Oprah to turn her next weight loss battle into a televised spectacle, I will be challenging my blogging sisters and brothers and readers to my own "get in shape" challenge. Stay tuned for details! Also feel free to drop a comment or an e-mail if you're already interested. No magic pills folks, just all the support and positive reinforcement you can stand!

34 comments:

howard53545 December 10, 2008 at 7:10 AM  

Oprah can sit her fat ass down for all I care. Her show is complete crap, know what I am saying. She is all over those white actors, like Brad Pitt, and she fawns all over the fine women. Makes you wonder if she is into the ladies. Where is Gail?

roslynholcomb December 10, 2008 at 7:25 AM  

Okay, you lost me on this one. Skinny and thin aren't black women's language? Since when? I spent most of my life as a skinny/thin black woman. I see skinny/thin black women every day.

I think this is at least part of our problem. This notion that being 'thick' is a black woman's shape. Sure, it's true for many black women, but by no means does it, or should it apply to all.

I agree that Oprah's never been skinny, but I think many women of all races look back to their slimmer selves and refer to themselves as skinny. It's all relative. If you weigh 200 pounds now and used to weigh 117 as I did at 5'9", then yeah, you would definitely call that skinny.

Let's not turn this into another degree of negritude issue please.

Kristin December 10, 2008 at 7:31 AM  

PT as usual you are on point. I have always been disturbed by Oprah’s yo-yo diets. The fact that she always refers to being on a diet is the first problem. Diets are temporary they are not meant to sustain.

Oprah needs to look at her body type she is going to always be heavy. What she needs to realize is that heavy does not have to be synonymous with obese.

Professor Tracey December 10, 2008 at 9:40 AM  

@Roslyn -

You missed the point. Oprah says "skinny" and "thin" as if there is something wrong with being full-figured and healthy. I was not addressing women who maybe "naturally thin." And never did I once mention the black foolishness of being "thick" or "big-boned", so please don't put words I didn't say.

More black women are healthily full-figured, or overweight, or obese, struggling with strange cultural body type demands from their community - butts, hips, and thighs, in a world that wants to celebrate "thin." Not mention the huge number of black women suffering from heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

Oprah clearly has a MENTAL and EMOTIONAL issue with weight, this is not a woman concerned about her past thinner self. This is a woman obsessed with looking a particular way despite her genetics and her wavering passion for eating healthy and working out.

And this IS a serious problem in the black community. Black women are killing themselves every day with a knife and fork because the black community pretends that being overweight with high body fat is okay. We need to stop doing that. Monique's reality show "Fat Chance" was a perfect example!

It is a fact that Black women are one of the most overweight groups in America, our number one killer is heart disease, so it is incorrect to say it's not a problem.

And language has everything to do with it. Watching a woman like Oprah who is genetically predisposed to have a certain body type, refuses to admit she has to watch what she eats and workout everyday to maintain a healthy weight, shrieking and waving her hands about "being skinny" is the absolutely wrong language for black women in the same boat with her. What happened to being healthy?

Professor Tracey December 10, 2008 at 9:46 AM  

@Howard -

Sounds like you have a few issues yourself. I've seen Oprah fawn over quite a few black male actors including Jamie Foxx. And if she did like the "ladies" why would that be anyone's business but Oprah's?

Being homophobic and being unhealthy, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually are several of the things that the entire black community needs to attack with vigor and passion in the coming new year!

Professor Tracey December 10, 2008 at 10:11 AM  

@Roslyn -

I would be interested to know if you have ever been teased or criticized by another black person over been naturally tall and thin. I have a soror built like that and every big girl in the group has their mouths open, yakking at her about being "too thin." Even her husband "jokes" about her not having "enough butt." And I see that as a problem as well.

And name a racial group in the 21st century that still trips internally with one another over hair, skin color, nose shapes, lip sizes, and body shape more than the black community?

roslynholcomb December 10, 2008 at 10:17 AM  

Perhaps I misread the article, but I don't see anywhere that she said there was anything wrong with being full-figured and healthy. In fact at her height, her fighting weight of 160 is probably considered full-figured (even overweight) by many.

She even says that she's given up the notion of being thin, and says she's focusing on being healthy, so I don't know where the idea that she's "shrieking" about being skinny came from.

You might not have said thick or big-boned, but you said that, "Skinny" and "thin" are white women's body image lingo, not black women's language." How is that not implying that skinny/thin=not black?

I also have a problem with the notion that because your thyroid affects you a certain way that it must be the same for everyone. I'm insulin resistant. I know it affects my weight-loss efforts, yet someone looking at Posh Spice, who is also insulin resistant might say, "Well she doesn't have a weight problem, your claims must be bogus." I think we all know that medical disorders, especially those involving hormones impact people differently. I don't know how old you are, but I suspect you're significantly older than Oprah. As I am significantly older than Posh Spice. We cannot assume that someone is malingering when they talk about the impact medical conditions have on them whether that impact is emotional, psychological or strictly physical.

I never said it wasn't a serious problem for black women. That's why I'm puzzled by your dismissal of Oprah's struggles with weight. I don't care how many personal trainers you have, you still have to do the work. Does it make it easier? I'm sure it does, but you still have to do the work. And I know for myself, my health issues make losing weight twice as hard. As someone who is not inclined towards exercise anyway, this fact has often lead me to say screw it. Not a healthy mindset to be sure, but there it is.

Oprah has always said that she doesn't like working out but that she knows she has to do it to maintain good health and a healthy weight. So this notion that she is seeking a quick fix or is somehow contributing to unrealistic expectations is very unfair.

roslynholcomb December 10, 2008 at 10:20 AM  

Yes, Professor Tracey I was definitely mocked most of my life, called Olive Oyl and Pancake Ass. I gained weight in my 30s when I developed pre-diabetes and now struggle to maintain a healthy weight.

I think there are many ethnic groups that struggle with those issues. Do they do it more than black folks? I couldn't say. I think it's impossible to do so without being part of those communities.

Naima December 10, 2008 at 10:42 AM  

As someone who had to cancel my gym membership because it was too expensive and can only afford to buy very little of my groceries from Whole Foods, I have little to no sympathy for Oprah. She has access to so many resources to maintain her weight yet she is still overweight? Oprah can afford to build her own gym, a healthy food cook and all that, no one cares to hear her complain. She supposedly doesn't even eat beef, she claims not to eat bread what in the world is she eating?

wisdomteachesme December 10, 2008 at 11:01 AM  

well i must say that if my scanner was working (damn vista) i could POP an old photo of me from my late
20's early 30's wereing a bathing suit that would say to you !BAM!
LOLOLOL
Body SLAMMING!!
wheeww i love that picture! lolol

ok, now at 46--after the baby, and some slow down time where i'm not going as much-and menapause, and the matabolism working at it's own thing=I've Got Wisdom in my hips!
hahah
in my mid section and my thighs are full of wisdom!
that is what i call my extra weight. lolo

i gotta admit--(and u can read this how you please) i like all shaped women- i think all colors and all shapes are beautiful- i don't have time for people that want that perfect shape, perfect weight or perfect anything WITHOUT having that Perfect Love living in them first.

so many people are slave to the thinking of the def. of beauty that society has taught us.
vanity!!! you have been Tricked and flim-flammed!!

get over it...cry a river build a bridge and walk across it! LOVE YOURSELF!

as long as the woman is healthy - and knows that genetics plays a HUGE part in how we all are shaped ans look--love yourself i say!! be thankful that God made only one of you and that you are wonderfully made!
you are beautiful!

With all the good works that she has done, i give her credit -( though we all know our works will go through the fire)

oprah has enough money to sit and waste her time worrying about her weight and trying to be perfect.
we all got some issues with something.
but i'm with you sister, i'm a bit tired of her making money off the weight concerns of all women.
i guess when you have nothing postitive or encouraging to talk about--faults and worry are always a good topic to make money off of.

from my years of learning about art history an learning about people-i know that all cultures some have main differences that the others do not have. beautiful differences.

colored women come in all shapes and shades and tints. and i know that we are some beautiful women, physically and then if the heart is right--BAM! We are GORGEOUS!

CG December 10, 2008 at 12:21 PM  

Sorry Prof T, I feel Oprah on this one because I think her admitting her struggle just shows that even with all the resources that she has it's hard to always stay on top of it with exercise and diet. She's human and no amount of money or success will prevent a person from having personal struggles. I don't even want her to be embarrassed about it just make the changes. That's all that any one of us can do. I actually do feel for her because the fact that she has so much at her disposal makes people less inclined to be sympathetic to her struggle. I'm sure she feels like a hypocrite and wants to say something cause she succeeds at so many other things but failure is a part of the cycle of life especially with a food addiction as she has admitted to having. She still looks good at this point and I'm glad she's ready to do something before she gets way out of control again. I think with women there are weight fluctuations due to many things and we should be mindful not to always compare ourselves to others but find out what is healthy for us. The standards for what is obese are not reliable for many black women's body types but that doesn't mean that a lot of folks can't stand to do better with weight issues. I think this is a great way for her to show how small amounts of exercise and food changes can go a long way. I am all for us working to make black women healthier though because far too many are seriously obese and suffering because of it and just don't have the support to push themselves because they think weight loss needs to be drastic or they need to have lots of money/resourses etc. also, we have to consider Oprah's age. I think that is an important factor to point out when women have to lose weight that it takes more time as you get older. Sure there are those that look good at an older age, Oprah included but people like Anne Curry, Diane Sawyer(speaking about women that are 50 and over) etc I think that they have been working out all along and that isn't the norm though they can be inspirational. I think this is the perfect platform and time to band together to work on our body health no matter what our size.

Tami December 10, 2008 at 12:59 PM  

Tracey,

I'm in for the Get Fit Challenge. I started my personal "get fit by 40" challenge a few weeks ago on my 39th bday. I've been meaning to blog about it, but have been too lazy.

What disturbs me about Oprah and her coverage of weight loss in fitness is that her relationship to food seems so pathological. I had a nutritionist once who really hated the various Oprah diet crazes that focused to much on "bad" foods and being "bad" or "good" in terms of fitness and weight loss. It is an unhealthy way to view eating. Sometimes I get the feeling that, despite all the amazing things Oprah has accomplished, she bases her value and self worth on the size of her jeans.

Kim December 10, 2008 at 1:00 PM  

Alot of women have weight issues with yo-yo-ing up and down, like Janet Jackson, it's just that when you are a public person it's an issue and I also think her sexual abuse contributed alot to her not having great self esteem. Too many folks are jealous of Oprah's success and they have to go to a job they hate everyday, so anything she does is fuel to show how much they dislike her. I wish her well. Losing weight and keeping it off is difficult for alot of folks. I don't know why folks pick on Oprah about it. She hasn't talked about her weight in along time until now so folks who says she should shup up are probably just someone who doesn't like her for a whole lot of other reason, A billion reasons to be exact...LOL

Claudia December 10, 2008 at 1:31 PM  

I know Oprah can get on everybody's nerves, but I have to agree with CG: She's human and no amount of money or success will prevent a person from having personal struggles.

I think one of the problems is the way people depend on Oprah for the quick-fix, buying all the books and adopting the latest fad. I think sometimes she even buys into the myth of the "magic pill," but mostly she's struggling just like the rest of us.

Having said this, Prof. Tracey - I am completely down for your "get in shape" challenge! I can't seem to get the weight off after my baby was born and, yes, I also had part of my thyroid removed - but I won't let that stop me for trying again (and again and again) to be a healthier person!!! Sign me up!

Professor Tracey December 10, 2008 at 1:35 PM  

Sorry folks, but I stand by what I said. What about people who have even less money, even less time, than Oprah. We all struggle to find time to workout and take care of ourselves.

Further, I never said anything about not be proud about Oprah and it Oprah is going to make her weight a PUBLIC issue, then she gets critiqued, that's not being picked on or hated on.

Her words trouble me, "embarrassed" and "wanting to disappear", she's a public figure and her words carry weight. Some black woman somewhere who is built like Oprah is going to have somebody get in her face talking about "don't you feel embarrassed?" "Oprah does." Some of us have better self-esteem issues about weight than others.

And sorry folks, but Oprah is yo-yo dieting and half-ass exercising. Every time she causes excitement with her latest weight loss, thousands of women trail behind her, how many of those women gained back the weight? Quite a few I bet. How many women thought they "beat" their weight problem just like Oprah?

I extremely interested in the numerous defenses of Oprah and the complete lack of interest in the most important issue I raised, the poor overall health of black women and how Oprah could help make a difference.

I think this goes to the heart of how black people deal with problems, we defend our struggle with the struggle instead of moving past that toward new solutions or actions to old problems.

And considering how black women hammered Star Jones for her weight loss drama, I'm amazed that somehow Oprah gets slack for doing the same.

bbgcmac December 10, 2008 at 1:47 PM  

CG - I feel ya. I am a brother age 41 and in pretty good shape. Thats thanks to a hefty schedule of high school basketball officiating - and yet i struggle with my weight as well. Right now I am 5'9 and 202lb. I need to be 180 to be at my optimum.

My metabolism is not the same as it used to be and hey, I just flat out love to eat - for fun and especially if i get depressed. Pancakes, (ohhhh pancakes) pasta, potatoes, cheesecake, burgers - you name it. I like to have the cold ass beer too to relax after a long day or a Saturday full of tournament games when I need to wind down.

I know that my weight has a direct affect on my attutude, my ability to think clearly etc. I started discipling my body (for the 30th time) after Thanksgiving to get well ahead of the new year. (Down 7 pounds so far - yaaaaa) I want to develop a lffestyle of discipline and based on that treat myself to the things i really pleasure on occasion.

Obesity, cancer, and diabetes are all a part of my family tree and I want to avoid those pitfalls.

So Prof Tracey I am all for helping contribute and blog encouragement and accountability for all of us.

Kim December 10, 2008 at 2:06 PM  

What about people with less time and less money.. Successul weight loss has neither to do with either, otherwise Oprah wouldn't have a time with it. And no matter what Oprah does, it's more than likely going to be public, she is a public person. I remember when she had to serve jury duty and a federal case was made about that. People need to do a SELF-ASSESSMENT be HONEST as to why they dislike Oprah cuz the weight thang aint it, were talking about a weight issue and the first poster to this topic started talking about how Oprah fawns over Brad Pitt. I'm like wow is that the cause of her weight issue. Folks are not as real and honest as they demand others to be. And as far as Star Jones, Al Roker had the same suRgery, so did Randy Jackson of American Idol, and no one said a word. WOMEN ARE JUST CATTY INDIVIDUALS.

Professor Tracey December 10, 2008 at 3:00 PM  

@Kim -

For the third time, if Oprah is going to TRUMPET her weight issues in a public space, she will be critiqued! It has nothing to do with whether you like her or not. I saw that she had gained weight and quite frankly I didn't care, but if she is going to go public, write articles to sell magazines, start public media discussions that end up becoming larger discussions about black women and obesity, I am going to report and challenge it.

And I find it interesting all this sympathy for Oprah and then turn around with a completely unprovable statement that "women are just catty." That is a complete untruth. No wonder so many black women struggle with weight issues because we as black women can't have an honest, open, and encompassing discussion about it without tons of excuses and accusations.

All that tells me is that I am on the absolute right track with this post. I will say it again, folks are more interested in defending Oprah, who will just fine, instead of actually giving a damn about the ANONYMOUS black women that struggle with weight and body images issues everyday.

Black women are suffering from obesity in record numbers, bulima and anorexia in numbers we have never suffered before, depression over body image and aging, but it's all poor Oprah.

And the first commenter on this thread clearly has issues and was male. And I believe received an timely and terse reply from me. And no one said a word about the black men that got their stomach stapled because there a double standard with men and women when it comes to weight, that is well-known and doesn't really matter when concerning black women taking responsibility for their own health.

Naima December 10, 2008 at 3:38 PM  

Maybe Oprah needs to stop following these white diet fads and get on board with some black nutritionist,they seem more pratical. She need to call Dr. Ian or maybe she need read How to Eat to live by Elijah Mohammed. Black fitness experts usually follow a way of life and not as a fad. Fitness is a way of life and not a fad, she should have realized this by now.
I am just confused b/c on her show she talks about going to the gym and what she doesn't eat yet we see her gaining weight.

Kim December 10, 2008 at 4:51 PM  

@ Naima

Diet and exercise are a black and white issue where, blacks are more knowledgeable than whites. interesting. That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard about diet and exercise. You sound just like some of the racist white obama haters.

Kim December 10, 2008 at 5:03 PM  

Oprah does not care about being criticized for anything. I know folks wished get upset with mean talk.It's one of the few criticism folks can actually say about her.

I don't think it's poor Oprah, I think she just feels j with all her success it's something she has yet to get a handle on, she LIKE SO MANY OTHER BLACK WOMEN, have struggle with weight since her early twenties, but I guess I disliked her I could spin it to however i wanted to perceive it.

My mention of the first poster who I know was male was mentioned and only mentioned to bring up the fact of what's
really upsets folks about Oprah and it's not weight talk. Weight loss has nothing to do with who's on her show and how she treats them.

It baffles me how someone else weight struggle would cause so much vehemence in people.

Mrs. Peel December 10, 2008 at 5:34 PM  

I have sympathy for Oprah but I find that while she is addressing her food issues openly, she is not being completely honest. I do not believe that she has gained only 40lbs or that she is a round 200lbs. She wants to be forthcoming but still wants to save face. Both pics on the cover of this month’s ‘O’ look photo shopped. If we are going to be real, let’s be real.

After starving on a liquid diet and a triumphant appearance on tv in size 10 Calvin Klein jeans, she indulges in a prolonged food binge as soon as the cameras were off, resulting in not fitting said jeans two days later. There is a pathology there she has yet to address. You know when you are talking with other big women and they say, "oh, I hardly eat anything!", "I just eat chicken, fish and vegetables.", "I don't eat sweets." Well, you eating a whole bunch of something! I used this language, too and I finally realize how ridiculous I must have sounded tipping the scales at close to 300lbs! 19 months and 80lbs later (with more to go) I realize this is a lifelong process. It will never stop. I'll always be confronted with temptations and my past of secret eating and denial. There is no end. Honesty and ruthless self inventory is the key.

Food addition is a bitch and many of us struggle with it. I have fallen off the wagon and singlehandedly ruined months of hard work quicker than a trip to the drive through at McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC (all in one night!). I do feel what she is going through. Nothing worse than realizing that you just played yourself. Just look at what happened to Kirstie Alley. A million dollars couldn’t keep her from getting her binge on and blowing up back into Large Marge. That’s deep. Al Roker subjected us to his stomach staple saga for which I am sure he was generously compensated and a year later he looks like Kung Fu Panda.

Word to Naima on her post...it is a way of life...not a fad. I am surprised that with all the resources at Oprah’s fingertips, all the doctors and fitness experts she has consulted that she seems fundamentally ignorant about weight loss. I am dismayed at her continued quest for “the quick fix.” She knows what to do she's just not willing to do it...yet. Time to call Overeater’s Anonymous?

I have no doubt that Oprah will get up from this fall and brush herself off and work hard again. Her current disillusionment is her friend...may it lead her to the light.

Professor Tracey December 10, 2008 at 5:56 PM  

@Kim -

I greatly appreciate your point of view, it has great value on my blog, but Namia wasn't being racist. Read her post again, there are plenty of maybes and seems. She was suggesting, not stating. She raised a valid point as you have raised several valid points.
Just because I disagreed doesn't mean I think I'm right on this issue. I just disagree.

I ain't in the business of trying to change folks minds, but to engage in discussions I don't get often enough for my tastes. I'm not gonna let anyone cut on you either, so lyrical combat is cool, but let's keep it friendly, well semi-friendly, or quasi-friendly. LOL!

Professor Tracey December 10, 2008 at 5:58 PM  

@Mrs. Peel -

Thank you! And keep your head up! I hope you will come back and share your successes and struggles with weight loss when I start my bloggers and readers "get fit" challenge.

msladydeborah December 10, 2008 at 8:08 PM  

The issue of weight and body image is one that we have to look at with an open mind.

Oprah's recent weight gain is not a major point of importance to me. She is like many people who work on weight issues. Sometimes it is good and other times it is not so good.

But the fact that it is sparking up discussions about how we need to look at ourselves as women, that is important.

lena December 10, 2008 at 10:25 PM  

I am so tired of hearing people say that "skinny" and "thin" are white people's lingo. do black people want to looked starved like paris hilton? Not even. But black women and people in general don't mind being healthily thin, with a shape - small waist, but with curves. Janet Jacskson and Beyonce moreso come to mind for black peoples ideal bodytype. they are shapely and thin in healthy way - not fat, not scary skiny, but healthily thin and curvily in shape.

But yes, for us, thin is in too, just not starvation.

p.s. it seems like most black women in the old days (1970's and back) were thin and it looked great! pam grier, diahnn carrol, most all of the sistas in the '70s, lena horne, dorothy dandridge, etc.

Please stop promoting this idea that black women have always been "naturally" fat due to genetics. it's plain and simply not true. all modern americans have had a huge increase in weight and we were much smaller as recent as the 70s and 80s.

ActsofFaithBlog December 10, 2008 at 11:04 PM  

This is a tough issue. The fact that she's still struggling with this does surprise me a little bit though. She has friends, she has love, she has money, she has doctors and other professionals at her disposal.

Is she being lazy? Is she being pathological? Is she just a bigger woman who needs to accept it? I don't know. I can totally relate to feeling the need to hide and it's not good. It leads to being isolated and depression. Except she's busy all the time. I think I'd be more inclined to think she would be able to deal with this better.

Yes there's lots of BW who are not healthy. Are Oprah's struggles just her life lesson to keep her humble? Or should she decide to not place value in her appearance anymore and just do the work? Is this a spiritual issue?

I tried losing weight earlier this year and went to a nutritionist who cut my calories to the 'correct' amount. The first 2 weeks were good then the hunger set in. Because I was eating 6 small meals a day I had a timer to keep to a schedule and I just felt like my whole life revolved around what I was - and wasn't eating. I'd wake up with my stomach growling from not eating anything 3 hours prior to bedtime. I drank 10 glasses of water a day and 3 salads and I was always hungry. I did lose 25 lbs in 2 months (one had 5 weeks) but I drove myself crazy! As I lost weight I felt emotionally vulnerable like I was open and raw and could be 'attacked'. I wrote in a journal but I could've really used a group support network. So I feel like a failure but I had to stop and increase my caloric intake and go at a much slower pace. I'd like to resume. But I tended to not go on yo-yo diets and have just steadily gained a few pounds every year.

Professor Tracey December 11, 2008 at 12:42 AM  

@Lena -

Black folks have referred to Beyonce as fat. Rapper Eve has been called fat. Pam Grier was not "thin" she was busty, butt, hips and curves, and HOT! I would really love to know what black women call thin, skinny, healthy, full-bodied or over-weight.

Janet Jackson has been ridiculed for her weigh throughout her entire career. And she like Oprah is another yo-yo dieter with extremely suspect honesty about her issues with weight gain and weight loss.

What do you mean "ideal" black folks body type? Beyonce is 5'9" or taller. Her body type is based on her height, family genetics, her diet and exercise, that's just the facts.

Further I never said anything about black women being "naturally fat" I said that Oprah might be dealing with genetics that predisposes her to a certain body type and shape.

Your remarks and others have great points, but also shows how much black women have such wildly different views and understanding of weight and body image.

Courtney December 11, 2008 at 10:16 AM  

I think the problem we have is that we are constantly discussing weight as if it equates to health as Americans both black and white. I mean you could be considered "overweight" by the BMI chart but it may be that you are very muscular and much of the weight isn't fat. Add that to a low cholesterol and low bp and you are healthy. Many people have said that they thought that Oprah was at her ideal weight at 160 lbs. But if she was on a liquid diet, starving herself and her body fat was high along with high bp and cholesterol, she was not healthy. Yeah she was "thin" but definitely not healthy.

Just my 2 cents, but that's what I took PT's words as when she said that "skinny and thin are white women's body lingo." Because skinny and thin do not equal healthy. Skinny and thin folks could be less healthy than someone who is overweight, to be honest. Many mainstream (white) diets focus on losing weight--they're just concerned with those numbers. They aren't about maintaining an overall healthy body.

Thought December 11, 2008 at 11:17 AM  

I've just got to say that I can definately relate to Oprah and her problems with weight. maybe it is just as simple as hiring a nutritionist or a cook or whatever. But there's also a need to eliminate cravings for ribs, smothered pork chops, fried chicken, and a whole host of other elements of soul food that we have grown to love.

Much of Black America, scratch that, much of America battles with these same issues, and tries different diets and exercise plans to become healthy. Right now I'm in a position where I've lost about 70 pounds. Now the number 1 fear I have is gaining it back. So I've got to fight the temptations to eat out and particularly the temptation to eat the foods that I grew up loving.

Its a really hard battle, and just the fact that Oprah is having problems with it helps me to relate to her more than those who refuse to acknowledge that their diets are unhealthy.

Thought December 11, 2008 at 1:26 PM  

@PT,

I also think that the fact that Oprah released this issue is bringing to front more discussions on weight. True, many of these discussions are getting in attack/defense mode of Oprah herself, but just as in the comments on this blog, the discussions are actually talking about personal experiences/what worked and what didn't/and ways to help Black women overall.

And as far as your original question, I wonder if this very blog (or one similar) would have been written had it not been for Oprah's need to discuss her weight loss issues.

You criticize her for saying things like how she felt "embarrassed" or "wanting to disappear" because of the negative effects they'll have on people in similar situations, but are you ignoring the positive effects she'll have? That same Black woman who will have someone get in her face asking her if this is how she feels MAY ACUTALLY FEEL THAT WAY. I know that when I was 230, I HATED taking pictures because I didn't want people to remember me looking like that. That was an issue with self esteem. And though I'm not willing to claim that I know how anybody else, particularly Black women think, it wouldn't surprise me if there are many others who feel like this. And not just that, even if Oprah hadn't said these thing, our society is structured so as to make people feel ashamed of being overweight. So that part is there. How much does it help that Oprah said this? I don't know, but don't just judge her comments as if she exists in a vacuum where her word is the only word that's being said on the subject.

GoldenAh December 11, 2008 at 3:53 PM  

When I am big, no one in my family can take a picture of me, not if they value their lives! Even the health-nutty "skinny" people in my family go up and down by as much as 20-40 lbs. I think it is rare to have a constant weight.

I think it's our food. Even people around the world are getting obese. Salty foods increase the appetite. If we skip meals, we end up satisfying the craving with lots of sugar. Most of our foods is processed, and it's hard to get away from that (i.e. eating raw instead).

It is hard to change eating habits, to restrain what you eat. Because by day 3 or 4 you will feel like you're starving.

Hunger is a funny thing. I remember reading that those skinny women on Desperate Housewives are "always hungry." I told my nutritionist that I'd be hungry if I followed her food plan. Her response, "So?"

I guess that's supposed to be the ticket to weight loss: feeling starved all the time.

lena December 13, 2008 at 11:02 PM  

most guys i know to this day love janet and call her "the butt", as a (crass, i agree) compliment. it was almost always the media that called her fat, not most black people. she's never been fat and neither has beyonce, tyra, etc. to me, all of them are a good weight for their height and build - that's what i mean by thin and shapely. not overweight or underweight, but still proportionate and feminine - butts, thighs, breasts like we have. tyra could tone more, but overweight and out of shape (needing to tone up) are two different things.

to be a black woman does not, has not, and will never mean we are "naturally" fat. that belief comes from being told for centuries by people who hated us that we look like "mammy" and should always be portrayed as sloppy and obese.and now, imho, too many black women have come to believe this under the guise of some "genetic" disposition to fat. sorry, but please.

when the u.s. was mostly agricultural and industrial and people worked in fields and factories, and didn't overconsume and cooked at home, black women were smaller (not scary skinny) and more in shape just like the rest of the population. and now in the modern u.s. where people work at desks and in front of computers, drive everywhere, overconsume everything, eat fast food regularly, and exercise less just by the nature of modern life, black women are larger and more overweight - again, just like the rest of america.

thin and small is not white, fat and large is not black.

Black Artemis December 17, 2008 at 3:05 PM  

The blog I link below at the Huffington Posts expresses my view on all this. To summarize for those who may not want to click and read, emotional issue are at the core of Oprah's weight problem. None of the wealth in the world helps because she must heal within. No high-priced nutritionist or trainer or gadget is going to help her grapple with all the childhood trauma that still ales her and manifests in her weight struggles. Don't think that because of all her fame and success, Oprah is free of these issues. I think she has them -- indeed, she has struggle to achieve -- to DESPITE them which goes to show you that having legions of fans and vaults of money STILL doesn't bring inner peace. When she addresses those issues, she will achieve and maintain a healthy weight (which is not as small Oprah believes because another symptom of her emotional issues is a warped body image.)

That said, and one thing the post does not say and speaks to something Prof. T raised, given that Oprah's approach to her weight loss is all wrong, she does a major disservice to all the women who look up to her. Just like when she succeeds, women with the same challenge think, "I can do it, too," when Oprah fails, they think, "If Oprah can't do it with all her resources, I don't stand a chance." I don't doubt that she means to inspire (well, OK, no one can say Oprah is immune to public navel-gazing which is also rooted in her "stuff," but that's the case with most famous people.) But she's doing the opposite and inviting herself to the same kind of scrutinty that actually exacerbates her issues.

So Oprah has my compassion. As prevalent as emotional eating and putting your body through all manner of changes to achieve a Eurocentric standard of beauty, she is actually pretty ordinary in a signicant way. While some people do have a biological cause to their weight issues, most have an emotional problem at the root. And why wouldn't women of color -- especially Black women -- be particularly vulnerable given how freakin' racist and sexist and just plain nasty to Black women our world is.

But the real work is internal work. The kind that should be done in privacy. I'd even go as far as to say that it HAS to be done privately at first in order to stand half a chance of succeeding. And then when she triumphs, she can reveal what finally worked for her and inspire others to do the same.

But honestly as long as Oprah is clinging to the belief that the problem is just lack of self-discipline or what have you, she is being part of the problem, getting in her own way, etc. and, yeah, I do kinda wish she'd keep it to herself.

The blog I link below at the Huffington Posts expresses my view on all this. To summarize for those who may not want to click and read, emotional issue are at the core of Oprah's weight problem. None of the wealth in the world helps because she must heal within. No high-priced nutritionist or trainer or gadget is going to help her grapple with all the childhood trauma that still ales her and manifests in her weight struggles. Don't think that because of all her fame and success, Oprah is free of these issues. I think she has them -- indeed, she has struggle to achieve -- to DESPITE them which goes to show you that having legions of fans and vaults of money STILL doesn't bring inner peace. When she addresses those issues, she will achieve and maintain a healthy weight (which is not as small Oprah believes because another symptom of her emotional issues is a warped body image.)

That said, and one thing the post does not say and speaks to something Prof. T raised, given that Oprah's approach to her weight loss is all wrong, she does a major disservice to all the women who look up to her. Just like when she succeeds, women with the same challenge think, "I can do it, too," when Oprah fails, they think, "If Oprah can't do it with all her resources, I don't stand a chance." I don't doubt that she means to inspire (well, OK, no one can say Oprah is immune to public navel-gazing which is also rooted in her "stuff," but that's the case with most famous people.) But she's doing the opposite and inviting herself to the same kind of scrutinty that actually exacerbates her issues.

So Oprah has my compassion. As prevalent as emotional eating and putting your body through all manner of changes to achieve a Eurocentric standard of beauty, she is actually pretty ordinary in a signicant way. While some people do have a biological cause to their weight issues, most have an emotional problem at the root. And why wouldn't women of color -- especially Black women -- be particularly vulnerable given how freakin' racist and sexist and just plain nasty to Black women our world is.

But the real work is internal work. The kind that should be done in privacy. I'd even go as far as to say that it HAS to be done privately at first in order to stand half a chance of succeeding. And then when she triumphs, she can reveal what finally worked for her and inspire others to do the same.

But honestly as long as Oprah is clinging to the belief that the problem is just lack of self-discipline or what have you, she is being part of the problem, getting in her own way, etc. and, yeah, I do kinda wish she'd keep it to herself.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-king/dear-oprah_b_150144.html

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