Love Letter to Black Women about Health and Obesity



 

Over the past few weeks I’ve come across various statistical reports which say that half of African American women in this country are obese (49.5 percent to be exact), diabetic, or both.
 
Initially ladies; I discounted this as nothing but inaccurate statistics.  Ballooned up numbers trying to make black women look bad and feel worse.  But then I started paying attention and asking questions like -
 
-Why when I visit my aunt in the nursing home there are more of you than me?
-When I go to church on Sunday; there are more of you on canes, wheel chairs, and walkers than me?
-Why does my friend who runs a kidney dialysis transportation business tell\ me that there are more of you then me.
 
Now I’m not here to showboat, to scare you, or to make you feel bad.  I’m writing this because I love you.  I love your strength, your character, your history, the way you can make something out of nothing, the way you multi-task, the way you go to school, work 2 jobs and raise children at the same time.  I love the no-nonsense tenacity you direct towards the men in your lives, I love your smile, the way you look after your parents, and the way you love your significant others.  I love your education, your wit, your loyalty, your heart, and your alternative perspective.  This is coming from me -  your brother, uncle, father, son, best friend and husband.
 
However I don’t love your diet.  I hate it when I see you pull into the McDonalds drive thru, when I see you at the gas station needing an extra hand because of all the chips and pop your holding.  I hate hearing the stories from personal trainer friends who say you complain about not wanting to work out hard because you don't want to sweat your hair out.  The stories about how many of you are more concerned with not loosing your butt, than trying to loosing your gut.

I swear I don't mean to offend.  In fact I'm not even trying to inspire.  This is an attempt to provoke you to change your life so you can save your life.  Now I can go into allllll kinds of statistics, but I'd rather just “keep it real.”

And that means understanding whatever cancer and diseases that's susceptible to whites is even more susceptible to blacks.  Whatever illness and conditions that kills whites – will kill you a lot faster.  So the bad carbs, high amounts of sugar, and unhealthy fats that comfort you when you're depressed.  That keep you going through long days at work.  The crispy fried chicken wings you live for, the pizza at the kid's birthday parties, the cheesecake you can't turn down, the ice-cream that calls you in the middle of the night, the jelly, toast and bagels that wakes you up, and the fast food you eat because you don't make time to cook is all killing you.

And some of you are smacking ya' lips saying, “Who does he think he is?” or “Just because you got yourself together doesn't make you an expert!”  or “He got some nerve trying to tell me what to do.”  etc....

No I'm not an expert.  I don't have to be to care and “yes” I have nerve..... and a WHOLE lot of audacity.  So I'm challenging you, all of you to throw some of that audacity back at me.  Throw it up in my face.  Let me see you at the gym more than the club (the weight side not just the aerobic classes!)  Let me see you at the farmer's market more than the drive-thru.

And hopefully, God wiling, when we're old – we won't be trading prescription stories and health insurance horror tales.  But we'll be talking about how good are knees and hearts feel, how great it is to be able to travel, work, play with grand kids without the use of a walker, wheel chair, or cane.

Challenge issued ladies.  Do you accept?
 

12 comments

  • KC

    KC

    Great article

    Great article

  • Crystal

    Crystal

    Hey Kahn ....I'm curious. What made you address this to black women and not black folks as a whole?

    Hey Kahn ....I'm curious. What made you address this to black women and not black folks as a whole?

  • Kahn

    Kahn

    Crystal - I addressed (what I felt) were the main concerns for black folks as a whole in the previous couple of blog post. But as I read, read and ...everything that was bad for white folks was bad for black men and SUPER BAD for black women. Then I just started to pay attention to my surroundings. The women in church, nursing homes, places of work - just women of all color at all ages and nearing 40 - I have women friends that are being diagnosed with things that maybe they could have avoided with a slightly different lifestyle.......and I also felt that NOBODY was really, really trying to push this message.

    Crystal - I addressed (what I felt) were the main concerns for black folks as a whole in the previous couple of blog post. But as I read, read and ...everything that was bad for white folks was bad for black men and SUPER BAD for black women. Then I just started to pay attention to my surroundings. The women in church, nursing homes, places of work - just women of all color at all ages and nearing 40 - I have women friends that are being diagnosed with things that maybe they could have avoided with a slightly different lifestyle.......and I also felt that NOBODY was really, really trying to push this message.

  • Carl Lanore

    Carl Lanore

    This is a great blog post.. often truths are so provoking that many would like to find reasons why they're not true. It's easier to choose not to believe something that, upon accepting it, requires action and self audit. Just dismiss it.. it's faster. But there is much truth in your observations.. but I would offer that this is also true of Caucasian, Latin and other women too.. especially over 40. The one thing I would offer is this.. there are more women in nursing homes than us guys because they outlive us and then succumb to their ill health by becoming unstable. A fall or lack of ambulation leads to institutionalization. Even more of a reason that all women must pay attention to their physical strength. Now here's your next post ideal LOL ... Lets help men live longer so they can be there to help their female partners as WE age together! Live Stronger. Live Longer.

    This is a great blog post.. often truths are so provoking that many would like to find reasons why they're not true. It's easier to choose not to believe something that, upon accepting it, requires action and self audit. Just dismiss it.. it's faster. But there is much truth in your observations.. but I would offer that this is also true of Caucasian, Latin and other women too.. especially over 40. The one thing I would offer is this.. there are more women in nursing homes than us guys because they outlive us and then succumb to their ill health by becoming unstable. A fall or lack of ambulation leads to institutionalization. Even more of a reason that all women must pay attention to their physical strength. Now here's your next post ideal LOL ... Lets help men live longer so they can be there to help their female partners as WE age together! Live Stronger. Live Longer.

  • Miss Jones

    Miss Jones

    So true in all what your saying so have any suggestions for women and too show them where to go anyone can talk getting involved BIG DIFFERENCE OR POINTING THEM IN DIRECTION WHERE TO START IF THEY NEED HELP !!!

    So true in all what your saying so have any suggestions for women and too show them where to go anyone can talk getting involved BIG DIFFERENCE OR POINTING THEM IN DIRECTION WHERE TO START IF THEY NEED HELP !!!

  • Richard Patterson

    Richard Patterson

    I think this post could also apply to other subcultures of women who do not circulate the idea that healthy eating and strength training is important. I like the balance of urging and caring in this one. I also like you having the courage to communicate about something we all see - the data indicate a lot of health problems are more prominent among minorities and in some cases, ravage their bodies faster.

    I think this post could also apply to other subcultures of women who do not circulate the idea that healthy eating and strength training is important. I like the balance of urging and caring in this one. I also like you having the courage to communicate about something we all see - the data indicate a lot of health problems are more prominent among minorities and in some cases, ravage their bodies faster.

  • Richard Patterson

    Richard Patterson

    And I like Carl's idea for a future post!

    And I like Carl's idea for a future post!

  • Dane Reid

    Dane Reid Atlanta

    I LOVED this. I know black women who are slim but feel like they should gain weight to be thick. Thick can get our of control really quickly and become fat. Studies show thin people live longer. Lower your weight instead. Black men don't make it better because we encourage thick. Give me a flat ass healthy woman any day. If that's you Google me and get at me ladies. Lol. I'm definitely gonna share this blog.

    I LOVED this. I know black women who are slim but feel like they should gain weight to be thick. Thick can get our of control really quickly and become fat. Studies show thin people live longer. Lower your weight instead. Black men don't make it better because we encourage thick. Give me a flat ass healthy woman any day. If that's you Google me and get at me ladies. Lol. I'm definitely gonna share this blog.

  • Ricardo Henriquez

    Ricardo Henriquez Barbados

    I love this letter. Many all the beautiful I know and love that say that they don't like to sweat, don't like to mess up their hair, etc..I see them gaining weight and not taking care of themselves and making excuses for bad habits that they will pay dearly for sooner if not later. Thank you for being far more eloquent than I can be on this subject.

    I love this letter. Many all the beautiful I know and love that say that they don't like to sweat, don't like to mess up their hair, etc..I see them gaining weight and not taking care of themselves and making excuses for bad habits that they will pay dearly for sooner if not later. Thank you for being far more eloquent than I can be on this subject.

  • Gloria Hawkins

    Gloria Hawkins Downriver MI.

    Thank you. My mother died at 83 and wore stilettos. She never weighed over 135 Lbs. Had it not been for her being in a car accident I'm sure she'd still be around watching what and how much she ate.I've got to get it together. Food is the #1 silent killer even church folk over indulge forgetting gluttony is a sin.

    Thank you. My mother died at 83 and wore stilettos. She never weighed over 135 Lbs. Had it not been for her being in a car accident I'm sure she'd still be around watching what and how much she ate.I've got to get it together. Food is the #1 silent killer even church folk over indulge forgetting gluttony is a sin.

  • Katyjow

    Katyjow texas

    My mother died last year from diabetes complications, and it was painful to watch how her body deteriorated. She refused to change her diet. Thank you, Kahn, for this post. I am glad to see a black man finally address this issue. As a nutrition educator, I agree with you 100 percent. I've been trying for years to get black women to pay less attention to their hair, nails, and face; and pay more attention to their weight. Men are not looking at those things; they are looking at your size. Many will be offended but, the truth sometimes hurts. For too long, black men have silently watched their (once slim) wives blow up like......; too afraid of the backlash if they dare mention the weight gain. So, many of them just find a more appealing woman and have an affair. Fat is not attractive, and is a sexual turnoff for many (male and female). Many black women are angry that so many black men are gravitating to women of other races. Aside from attitude, obesity of one of the major reasons given. I hope that black women will take Kahn's letter as a loving appeal to live a healthy lifestyle and avoid the issues and complications that come with obesity. I noticed that some of the people that commented included other ethnic groups in the discussion. That is not what this discussion is about, and does not diminish the issue of "black" obesity. We must stop "passing the buck" and "pointing fingers", look in the mirror, and do what we need to do to improve us. Kahn is a black man appealing to black women. Let other groups write their own posts to address their own issues.

    My mother died last year from diabetes complications, and it was painful to watch how her body deteriorated. She refused to change her diet. Thank you, Kahn, for this post. I am glad to see a black man finally address this issue. As a nutrition educator, I agree with you 100 percent. I've been trying for years to get black women to pay less attention to their hair, nails, and face; and pay more attention to their weight. Men are not looking at those things; they are looking at your size. Many will be offended but, the truth sometimes hurts. For too long, black men have silently watched their (once slim) wives blow up like......; too afraid of the backlash if they dare mention the weight gain. So, many of them just find a more appealing woman and have an affair. Fat is not attractive, and is a sexual turnoff for many (male and female). Many black women are angry that so many black men are gravitating to women of other races. Aside from attitude, obesity of one of the major reasons given. I hope that black women will take Kahn's letter as a loving appeal to live a healthy lifestyle and avoid the issues and complications that come with obesity.

    I noticed that some of the people that commented included other ethnic groups in the discussion. That is not what this discussion is about, and does not diminish the issue of "black" obesity. We must stop "passing the buck" and "pointing fingers", look in the mirror, and do what we need to do to improve us. Kahn is a black man appealing to black women. Let other groups write their own posts to address their own issues.

  • Ms Michelle

    Ms Michelle New Orleans, Louisiana

    Thank you this is a inspiration to all African American women young and old a you clip of the oldest as well as "African American" body builder according Guinness Book of World Record today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRhIJlVcf2Q

    Thank you this is a inspiration to all African American women young and old a you clip of the oldest as well as "African American" body builder according Guinness Book of World Record today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRhIJlVcf2Q

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