Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fat Relativity: Along the Racial Divide


In response to last Tuesday's survey question and my discussions with other women and men, those I spoke to strongly agreed that if a High Fashion Runway model was an average BMI (what doctor's use to measure obesity) she would be considered FAT by those in the Fashion Industry. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know this. We've been brainwashed to this fact for decades. And it doesn't look like this phenomenon is going to change any time soon. Just watch Project Runway for a season. Our cultural assumptions about FAT appear to be relative to profession and industry.

Is the definition of FAT also relative to race? Weeks ago, a literary agent (heavy and Caucasian) who shall remain anonymous told me that she went to a party in Manhattan where there were heavy and obese Black Women who were all decked out in their gold jewelry and colorful, high-end caftans. They looked beautiful, they carried themselves well and were confidently attractive to the Black Men who circled them. The agent then sighed to me, ruing the fact that for heavy, "beautiful" White Women, the story is the opposite. I agreed with her and unable to resist hyperbole, I expressed amazement that heavy or obese white chicks (completely out of fashion) were invited to ANY Manhattan parties at all. However, I think her point is well taken. Where the racial divide is concerned, Black Women can get away with being heavy. White Women Can't Jump That Divide.

What do you think? Is the definition of FAT also relative to race? Is it "easier," more overlooked, more accepted for Black Women to be overweight and/or obese than for White Women?

Next week we'll discuss the survey results and discuss the opinions across the racial divide when a black celebrity of the weight of Jennifer Hudson using Weight Watchers reconfigures her image, body and appeal.

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