One of the top new years resolutions is the good old resolve to lose weight! 20, 50, 100 pound goals cited by many. Of the top 5 new years resolutions, this is often number one. And when one isn’t interested in shedding unwanted pounds there is often another resolution that isn’t too far from it- getting fit. Meaning exercising, toning, whatever it takes to look a little slimmer and fitter. Western society supports this idea and there is no doubt that the US has patients with ever increasing chronic health concerns due to obesity and extra weight.
But while preparing myself for this blog entry, I thought about the fact that many do want to lose weight, but culturally this can mean different things. Extra weight means different things to different people and within different communities. And while some seek to be model thin, others wear extra clothing layers and drink high caloric and high protein beverages in an attempt to put extra weight on.
In my community, I see this frequently. A good friend of mine lost about 75 pounds through diet and exercise, she did this in part to feel better and look better, but also largely to combat hypertension which she had developed that was becoming less responsive to medication. Once she hit about 130 pounds on her 5’4 frame, her boyfriend asked her to please gain some weight and stated she looked sickly. At that point she started sipping on high calorie beverages between meals. She never went back up to 200 pounds, but she has maintained an additional 10-15 pounds from her all time low.
There has been much discussion around the idea that black girls are okay with extra weight and while some of this is true some of the time, its also true that black women struggle with their weight and cultural beauty ideals. These ideals are often more broad, but trying to fit into anyone’s mold of beauty can be a painful and difficult feat. I think most people have wanted to feel thinner and healthier at times. And while there may be more flexibility in different beauty ideals, every group has them and they can be impossible to live up to.
More important things to consider are health and feeling good about how you look no matter what size you aim to be.