Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Barriers to Weight Loss: What Black Women Can Learn From White Women


Since this is a topic that I was recently talking to a friend about and one that Tracy mentioned would be a future blog topic I decided I'd add my two cents to the topic:

I was in the gym last week and a friend of mine who is a personal trainer (and a stripper but that's another story) said in his experience white women are more inclined to address a weight problem before it becomes a real problem. His exact words were:

A white woman will but on 5 pounds freak out, go to the gym and mess around and lose 10lbs. Black women will put on 5, 10, 30, 40 pounds and then say 'Girl I need to do something about this.'

So lesson number 1 is: When you see that your weight is a problem, deal with it EARLY don't wait until you've gone from a size 8 to a size 14 before you address the issues at hand. Being Proactive is much better (and easier) then being Reactive.

Lesson number 2 comes from a 2003 study that was published in the journal 'Ethnicity and Disease.' It states that:

A recent study has revealed that overweight or obese white women are more inclined to ask for dieting help than their African-American counterparts.

This is an important point to take note of. The article about the study further notes that:

"We found that African-American women did not differ from Caucasians in terms of concerns about body shape and weight. But white women were more likely to be influenced by those concerns to seek help,” said lead author Dr. Rachel Annunziato, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

So what we learn is that for whatever reason Black women aren't motivated by body image in the same way their white counterparts are and this lack of motivation (even though the concern is there) prevents Black women from seeking help regarding their weight.

The articles offers some suggestions why this may be the case from cultural factors to women being the primary caregivers of everyone but themselves.

My personal trainer friend also noted that for whatever reason White women are more inclined to invest in their health in a way that Black women do not. He elaborated that black women will invest in things to make them look nice (clothes, hair, nails, etc.) but won't invest in the things that will make them healthy.

Now I'm not saying my personal trainer friend's word is the end all be all on the topic but much of what he says is backed up by other sources such as the article 'Black Women Confuse Beauty With Health' which touches on the issue of black women striving to look good instead of being healthy.

So Lesson 3 is: Health and Beauty are not synonymous and Black women need to learn and understand the difference if they want to be successful in having a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Just some things to think about this post 3-day weekend morning.

Today is a new Day. What are you waiting for?

13 comments:

deeann said...

This blog is a whoot...you are funny. I need this extra motivation to get back on track. And, congratulations to you. Hey, I would love to take that men hunting trip with you.
Dee Ann

Ms Stella said...

At first, your friend's words kind of stung but, I can only speak for myself. I understand the difference between being healthy and looking good. I am currently working on losing 20 lbs which I have slowly and steadily gained over the last few years while working out regularly. My food choices are the problem.

When I reach my goal weight, I will take a proactive approach to maintaing it.

mekare said...

Hello there!

This is a great blog. The title caught me off guard but I was able to move everything around so I could get what I needed out of the post.

This was the most useful tip:

"When you see that your weight is a problem, deal with it EARLY don't wait until you've gone from a size 8 to a size 14 before you address the issues at hand."

I will keep this in mind in the years to come. It's definately easier to loose 5lbs than it is 50.

I'm getting closer to my goal weight. I feel like I have been in the darkness for a long time and that finally, rays of light are coming through my window.

Esquire said...

Great article and oh so true. People are congratulating me for losing 30 of the 40 pounds I've put on, but in reality, I should have handled this when I tried on my first pair of jeans and they were too tight. We take our health as seriously as we take our hair.

Kjen said...

Cool blog. I'm glad I found you. However, I think that the assessment that Black women strive to look good, is incomplete. The majority of people who are attempting to lose weight are doing so for their looks. Those white women who go on a diet once they see they've gained five pounds do so because the bar of attractiveness for white women has traditionally included a very slender model. Black women have had a little more lee way.
So, yes again, I think that not just Black women, but American women in general are focused on looks not health.

cardiogirl said...

This is so interesting. I never thought weight gain had different issues across different ethnic groups.

I attribute my own body issues with my upbringing. I had two parents who were overweight but who were constantly starting diets, stepping on the scale, talking about body shape and telling me I needed to think about those things as well. My father also felt it necessary to tell me I was getting fat and that I should do something about that.

I will admit I do look at models in magazines with a very critical eye, however, I view myself in the same way. It seems no matter what I weigh it's never good enough.

And then, later when I have gained weight, I look back on the times when I was in better shape and shake my head. I didn't appreciate what I had when I had it.

Body issues are so frustrating and I am hopeful that I can raise my daughters without those same concerns. My husband and I try to focus on health as we are dieting so our daughters get that message rather than society's unrealistic image.

The results remain to be seen.

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