What is a woman to do when she knows that losing twenty pounds is great for her heart health but when so much of her self worth is tied to those twenty pounds? What is a woman to do if she absolutely loves how the extra weight looks on her naked body but each and every single time she goes to the doctor he reminds her that losing the excess poundage would do her health a world of good? What is a woman to do when every magazine she looks in tells her thick isn’t right but when her culture has been telling her otherwise since she was a young child?
As a woman of color I have thought for a very long time that thick is right. As I went from girl to woman every male in my life expressed how much they loved my thick shape. As I went from girl to woman other women reiterated this by complimenting my small waist, big butt and thick thighs. Thick is definitely right in my culture. Even when I married outside of my race the man I married was more than happy to constantly tell me that he was so happy that he had a woman with a “real” woman’s body at his side. So, yes, much of what I think about my beauty is tied to how thick I am but I know that as I get closer to the age of thirty-five that I should exercise more and possibly listen to the doctor’s orders. Lose twenty pounds…
…Maybe I will exercise some but I don’t know about losing twenty pounds. I am after all the woman that thinks getting and staying bikini ready means trips to Sonic for twelve inch chili cheese dogs and 44 oz slushies. Bikini right means thick toned thighs and a very big phatty. Doesn’t it? I am after all the woman that thinks more of Beyonce’s body than that of Naomi Campbell’s. Beyonce is definitely bikini right while Naomi might need a few burgers. No? I am the woman that hasn’t known what regular exercise is since 1997. Black women don’t exercise…we don’t have to when we are born with such shapely womanly bodies. Right? I am the woman that has absolutely nobody encouraging her to lose any weight, change her unhealthy summer eating habits or add regular exercise into her weekly schedule. My family and friends love me they wouldn’t encourage me to maintain an unhealthy weight if it wasn’t the best thing for me. Or would they?
I am all those things but I also am sure that it is time to make a change in my life so that I can have more life to live. At just shy of 4’9″ this exact weight and my current BMI are technically unhealthy for my heart. I might hate myself for losing the extra thickness but I am going to try to maintain a “healthy” weight…even if it isn’t my “happy” weight. No. That’s a lie! I am going to find a happy medium between the weight the doctor wants me at and the weight I am happy at. I am going to lose ten pounds and maintain that weight. I am going to make regular exercise part of my everyday life and I will eat better. I am going to make my new healthy weight my new happy weight. The recipe for me getting summer right will always include bikinis, thighs and a phatty but just maybe less of them.
I will admit that I am very worried about how the people in my life will react this time around to my weight loss. I am worried that their comments will make me hate being smaller or might even make me think that being thinner isn’t beautiful or healthy. When I lost the extra weight after my annual physical last year the man in my life complained that I was getting white girl thighs, my mother said I looked “skinny sick” and some of my close friends commented that I was dieting too much and they were worried for me. Let’s hope that I can kick this thinking that thick is right and I can stop listening to the voices of those that love me. I need to shut them out at least until I have cemented in my mind and heart my own ideal body image that is both beautiful and healthy for me.
Anyone out there understand my dilemma? Have you figured out a way to look beyond our cultural beauty norm to be able to create your own personal beauty norm? Are you holding on to that last twenty pounds too? Why?
© Anaín Bjorkquist March 14, 2011 ~ All Rights Reserved.