In Tokyo, you don't run into too many black women. I myself average about 1 or 2 a month (excluding myself obviously and my friend QueenY :), and that's a rough estimate because I don't really keep track...
Anyway, when I first arrived to Japan, I would get a little annoyed with how Japanese women reacted towards my size (I'm petite-- 5'3 103 lbs) "oooooh, you're soooo slim! How Cool! I love your shape!!!!" It's really silly now to be annoyed at such fabulous compliments :)-- but, I guess I felt they were acting so surprised to see a slim black woman. In retrospect, it may be that they were simply surprised to see a petite foreign woman, given that I have yet to encounter another foreign woman my size; or they simply loved my size :). Thanks, I love my size too!
Anyway, there is a point to all of my ramblings....
YoungGifted&Black, a regular discussion board member of Black Tokyo shared an insightful article on black women and exercise in an article titled "Cultural Factors Keep Some Black Women Away From the Gym".
The writer of this article touched on several factors that keep some black women from joining the gym, engaging in a regular exercise routine, and having an overall positive attitude towards having a healthy lifestyle in regards to diet and exercise. I won't quote the entire article, but I will share with you my opinion on a few points the writer touched on.
"78 percent of black women are overweight, and that includes the 50.8 percent who are obese"
--What! DAYUM, I am almost in disbelief at these numbers. Though a few BT posters did make the point that these stats are similar to those of Americans period, I am still in amazement!
"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,
according to womenshealth.gov. 'There's been less pressure for blacks to lose weight because of a
cultural acceptance of higher body weight and heavier body shapes,' the
--Totally believable. Where I come from, terms like "thick", "curvy", "somethin' to work with", and "meat on her bones" are all good terms used to describe women who may be either a little overweight, or not slim or skinny. Having thickness in all of the "right" places is what a lot of black women strive for. Having a shape like a "white girl" or worse, like an asian woman is not a compliment for many. So, I could see how a lot of overweight black women would consider themselves average in size and see their weight as a positive thing. (Which I would argue, there is nothing wrong in having a positive self-image.)
"To get black women to exercise and adopt healthful lifestyles, you
must take hair and appearance into consideration," Railey says. If a woman spends hours in a (salon) chair and spends $60, she's out of the gym for at least two days," Railey says."
--Heheheh! I will even take this a step further-- if a woman has a perm (relaxer, straightened), you don't want 'sweat your perm out' either. Seriously, back in the day, sweat was the straight up enemy for me. And, don't even think of going swimming! So again, totally believable. (I still haven't posted on the number one MOST POPULAR QUESTION I am asked on Sista in Tokyo, "How/Where do you go to get your hair done?" Post forthcoming-- I'm gathering resources and lots of helpful info. for you!)
With that being said... Here's a really interesting point--
"Black women who want to build relationships with black men are still
forced to try to catch a man by looking the best they possibly can.
Until a (black) woman is in a culture where the man says, 'I love you
just like you are; I love your kinky hair and I select against long
-- Uh Oh! We're opening up Pandora's box right here... This is getting into other issues completely-- mainly beauty standards in terms of black women and hair. But, I think this also raises another interesting issue-- Black women dating exclusively black men and feeling that black men are the only ones who will accept their beauty and find them attractive.
"Black women with a little more meat on them seem (attractive), and
that's not a bad thing. A little bit of hips, being curvier, is
appealing, and sometimes you do have men telling their girlfriends and
wives not to lose weight because they like the curves, the extra
--UmmmmmmmHmmmmm! I once had a boyfriend who told me it wouldn't hurt to put ON a few pounds. I was pissed for at about 2 weeks!!! I was insulted that he felt my body size was not good enough for his standards and I told him. Seriously!!! I just couldn't believe that! Of all of my years, I'd never had a boyfriend suggest that I put on a few pounds. I had always been proud that everyone I dated was happy with my body size. Anyway, it's completely believable though. I think a lot of black men like to brag about how "thick" his woman is and how "phat her ass is" and that's cool. But don't tell me I should put ON a few pounds. (heheheh!) I love me just how I am-- and it took me a while to get to the point of loving my petiteness, especially since I've always had beautiful and thick friends.
The article also touches on a few other things.
I had this discussion with my boyfriend the other morning, and I told him that I felt there is a bit of a negative stigma placed on having a positive attitude toward healthy eating, exercise, or simply being petite and or slim.
You would be surprised at how often women back home will rudely ask me, "Do you EAT?" I mean-- how insulting to imply that I am starving myself to be thin! Now if I were to respond, "Obviously not as much as you!"-- Then I would be in the wrong... But I think this is a good example of how being slim, exercising regularly, and eating healthy are often associated with having an eating disorder or being unhealthy-- especially to some black people.
To some black women in particular, I think being overly concerned with your weight and appearance is associated with weight obsessed white women. Terms like bulimia and anorexia are associated with problems white women experience. Though I hear these disorders are increasingly becoming a serious issue among African-American women.
Anyway, I am anxious to hear what you guys think about this article.