“Many black women are fat because we want to be,” Alice Randall stated in her NYTimes Op-Ed piece that sparked a firestorm of online criticism and backlash. Randall wants to make one thing clear, “it is one woman’s opinion. I am not speaking for all black women but I am speaking for a group of middle-aged women, out of the experience of Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama where I have deep roots.“
I understand Alice Randall’s opinion on why black women are fat. As a Black woman who was raised in North Carolina, once weighed 350 pounds and is now 250, many of Randall’s observations closely mirror my own personal experience with body image and weight.
While Randall is essentially advocating for healthy living and increased awareness amongst the Black community, many criticized the notion that all Black women are fat because they want to be, Black men appreciate it, and/or it signifies ancestral strength and beauty. Many, tired of what is perceived to be a media assault on Black women’s success, marital status (or lack there of) have grown weary of the “Black women are…” chatter. While Randall’s experience may seem foreign to many Black women, I can relate. I remember losing the affections of a man who saw me 100 pounds lighter and expressed his disdain in my appearance, telling me I’d gotten “too skinny.” As a size 18, I looked at myself in the mirror in confusion, wondering how my thick thighs and round belly were considered “skinny?” Yes, some men do love that extra jiggle and therefore many Black women would rather keep the bodies they’ve acquired than try the latest workout craze.