W hen mother and daughter duo (Ellen Ector and Lana Ector respectively) released “Black Girls Workout Too” exercise tapes in early 2013, black girls and women rejoiced. Finally something for us’ many thought. Finally something for us, was exactly right.
In my experience (and the experience of many of my #carefreeblackgirl friends), we’ve come across negative statements when expressing our desire to workout or promote a healthier lifestyle.
(NOTE: These sentiments come from black/minority men, family members and friends alike.)
I love you just the way you are
“You don’t have to exercise for me, I love you just the way you are.”
This is usually well-meaning, but is often dismissive especially when 82 percent of Black women are obese, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The leading cause of death among blacks 20 and over is hypertension.
But beyond being dismissive, many sentiments like this one (especially coming from our male counterparts) are rooted in the fetization of black women. The “love” is often an objectification and fixation of how black women’s bodies should look. it is often thought that exercising will somehow harm what black women’s bodies should be.
Though this “coke-bottle” shape is everywhere from music videos to Instagram, many of our peers forget that every black woman has self-agency or control over what her ideal body type, shape and weight is.
“Girl, don’t worry about working out. You know that black don’t crack.”
We’ve all heard the aphorism, “black don’t crack. While we really do have this incredible ability to look ageless (I won’t deny it, I’ve seen Nia Long and Sade before), we do also undergo serious health troubles being African-American women.
But when “black don’t crack” is said as a way to delay exercise and a healthy lifetime, this it becomes hazardous.
Let’s break it down:
Many of the aforementioned ailments can be prevented by a healthy diet and exercise.
This is all your “white friends” and/or associate’s influence
“Exercising [and healthy eating] are for white people.”
Health and self-care aren’t white people things. Black women care about their health, and as stated above it’s imperative for us to do so. A healthy lifestyle shouldn’t result in someone’s blackness coming into question.
So listen to the following, please:
It isn’t a “white person thing” for a black woman to seek help to a healthcare professional for her struggles with overeating.
It isn’t a “white person thing” for a black woman to bring a healthy option of food to a cook out.
It isn’t a “white person thing” for a black woman to buy a gym membership.
It isn’t a “white person thing” for a black woman to lose extreme weight.
It isn’t a “white person thing” if a black woman is tired of being obese.
It isn’t a “white person thing” if a black woman wants to alter her diet.