Black Women's Butts Blamed for Obesity Crisis

This post, written by Jill Filipovic, originally appeared on Feministe

But it's the reporter who's the biggest ass. The tagline of the article hints at things to come: "Many blacks love big women, but having a rump the size of Buffie the Body's can put women at risk for disease." And it only gets better:
Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder and need not justify itself. I love (non-steroidal) body builders' physiques and, pre-kids, I was that hardcore gym rat haranguing co-workers over the contents of their lunch sacks. My own mother found my buff body distasteful, though it would have taken Gitmo to make her admit it (my family deputized a representative to ask me if I was gay). So, my issue is not with a butt fetish per se. Fetishizing large rumps (though "large" doesn't tell you the half of it without the pix) is, of course, no better or worse than fetishizing plastic blimp-breasts, except that the latter could be considered safer. Their supply can be halted, surgeons are regulated, patients are monitored and, of course, the bearers themselves can have the implants removed. But the best way to get a gargantuan ass of urban-lad-mag size is to be obese; this is also the path to ill health and early death for black women, as Buffie's lifestyle amply demonstrates.
Yes, you read that right: It is healthier to undergo surgery where a doctor slices your breasts open and stuffs two saline-filled baggies into your chest than it is to have a naturally big ass.
Recent press reports show why black women should be alarmed: More than half of us are obese -- 78 percent are considered overweight. And, according to the American Obesity Association, the pounds are not coming off easily, due to "cultural factors related to diet, exercise and weight among African-Americans." The Centers for Disease Control finds that rates of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death are higher among black women, and when we get these diseases, we're sicker than white women. But here's the kicker: Womenshealth.gov reports that "compared with overweight white Americans, overweight black Americans are two to three times more likely to say their weight is average -- even after they've been told they are overweight or obese by a doctor (emphasis added). It's one thing not to "see" that you need to lose weight. It's quite another to reject that knowledge from the medical professional you sought out.
She's right that we should be alarmed about disproportionate obesity rates in certain communities -- but instead of examining the complex causes of obesity rates, she defaults to victim-blaming. Women of color are more likely to be poor than white women. They are less likely to have adequate health care access. When you're poor, you're going to buy food that you can afford, and things like fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish aren't exactly cheap -- or even available in many communities.

If most of your shopping is done at the corner bodega, you're not going to be walking out with a nice salmon fillet for dinner -- you're going to get the frozen fish sticks. If you have $20 to spend on food for your family, you're going to buy the 10-for-$1 Top Ramen, not the $1.50-each organic apples. Government subsidies make high-fructose corn syrup incredibly cheap, further compromising the healthiness of processed food. Healthy, high-quality food is pricey, and out of reach for many people. Not to mention the fact that busy parents who work all day don't have time to prepare complicated, health-centered meals. Plus there's the fact that exercise is expensive -- gyms cost money, athletic shoes and gear cost money, sports teams cost money, and on and on.

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