Since Everyone's Talking About the Black Fat Fokes...

I guess I'll speak as a Black fat woman.

Lately, there have been several blogs and articles wondering how and why Black women love themselves as they are.  Why do we embrace our curves and rolls?  Why do we seem okay with our big asses and bellies?  It seems as if everyone wonders why we like the bodies we have, but don't want to change them. 


The articles don't ever really deal with the actual problems in our community.  We get harped on for being big even though we have rampant diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and cancer in our neighborhoods.  The outsiders and analysts assume that jacked up health conditions should serve as a catalyst for change.  But has it ever dawned on anyone that there's a reason why fearmongering hasn't worked?  Does anyone ever ask themselves "why aren't a lot of Black people able to eat better food or take better care of their health"?

NO!

Because those types of articles don't get readers.  Not as popular.

Well, let me, as a fat Black woman, tell you what the deal is.

*Food deserts are 100% real.  Yesterday, I saw firsthand just how messed up some areas are with regards to healthy food choices.  I dropped my son off at daycare in Castalia, and decided to go to Kroger at Lamar and Airways.  I didn't really feel like driving past my job to go to Kroger on Shelby Drive and Elvis Presley and Piggly Wiggly on Elvis Presley isn't exactly the best of stores either.  When I got to Kroger at 6:58, I waited my 2 minutes for the store's opening and went in to find my wares: fruit, salad fixins, almond milk, and some turkey.  What disappointed me was the poor selection of fresh produce and healthy alternatives.  I found a few nice looking apples and left. 

When I left the store, I saw that immediately across the street was a Save-a-Lot.  If I recall clearly, that and Kroger are the only grocery stores in the 38114/38106 area of town.  For someone with transportation, you don't have a two store radius to choose from.  However, if you're walking or bussing, that's all you have.  But in that area (off the top of my head), we have:

KFC
Yum's
Checkers
Popeye's
Church's
Wendy's
Burger King
Several Gas Station/Mom & Pop Food Joints

Let's review...two grocers..several junk places.

I was so angered by the quality of Kroger that I emailed them.  I'm certain they won't change much, if anything.  They'll keep a steady supply of WIC items, but one warm carton of Lactaid?  Wilted lettuce?  HELL no! 

*Some people don't have knowledge of healthier alternatives.  Knowledge is power. From my experiences on WIC, you have a nutritionist schooling you to recommended guidelines for you and your kids' health.  You get a voucher meant to supplement your meals that cover milk, cheese, eggs, veggies, wheat bread, 100% juice, and other whole grains.  I will attest that it was a HUGE help to have those items to add and make a whole meal.  What's hilarious is how many Circle B sammiches I ate with that free cheese on that free wheat bread with a cup of ice cold free juice!

**no need in lyin'**

When I was on EBT, I did buy a lot of the "better" items that I couldn't afford on my own at the time.  I place the word better in quotations because only NOW have I found out that many of my choices weren't much better.  I bought frozen thighs and drumsticks, and with a box of $0.79 macaroni, made dinner for my daughter and I that lasted 2-3 days.  I baked my chicken, so hey, thought I was doing better.  I cooked my frozen veggies in unsalted butter...thinking that was a LOT healthier than the canned veggies I used to chuck in a pot.  At the time, my daughter and I ate well...so I can say that I used my assistance the right way.

I know some of you roll your eyes at this...saying that healthy eating is common sense.  For those who can say this, then congratulations.  But it wasn't until I worked with a trainer did I find out that chicken thighs, regardless of preparation, had a high fat content.  The better eggs are free range.  I'm not supposed to cook my veggies until they're soft.  Some wheat items aren't legit.  Nobody really needs pork or beef. 

My WIC nutritionists never told me all of that.  They just fussed at me because my son didn't want whole milk.

*Quality medical access is contingent upon insurance.  This year, I'll be seeing a nutritionist (outside of WIC) monthly.  I have already had several blood tests done by my doctor to rule out the maladies that are prevalent amongst the fat Black fokes.  I'm awaiting the results of an appeal by my orthopedic doctors to get custom insoles to improve my mobility. (Apparently, when you aren't diabetic, no insurance company is keen on paying for insoles or shoes).  All of these visits' costs?

$0

I can say that I'm truly blessed to be among those with two insurance coverages.  I jokingly told my husband that I would be getting everything fixed while I was covered under both policies!  My carrier would want 10% plus a copay from me while my husband's would want 20% plus a copay.  Fortunately, his as my secondary insurance picks up the balance, meaning I don't have to come out of pocket for all my care.  I don't fear going to be checked on because I don't have to worry about bills.  That's great because I'm STILL paying on the bills I acquired from 2011 on back!

Now, if insured people face thousands in medical bills, imagine how life is as an uninsured person.  Over the years, policies are covering less of a percentage and/or increasing copays...meaning that routine visits may be $20-40, but you don't know what the bill will be in a month or two.  In our community, people don't get themselves checked often anyway.  Add fear of increasing debt and lack of coverage, and you get...sick people. 

Many of us ask grandma or auntie what could be bothering us because we don't have the money or time off to take for a doctor's visit.  ALSO, the uninsured and underinsured don't have the best variety of doctors to choose from.  That's why I didn't know the name of my genetic condition until I was 28 years old.  I guess when you have good doctors, they tell you stuff.

*In many cases, there is a choice to be made.  Again, I go back to my single mom days and think of the things I used to cook.  I didn't get WIC and EBT when I began working full time, so I had to pay for all food out of pocket.  Back in 2006, food was a lot cheaper than it is now. HOWEVER, I had to make choices since I had to handle rent, car note and insurances (auto and rental). 

Do I spend $50 and feed the kid and I all week or do I spend $50 and we eat for two days? 

Back then, I lived in Walmart, so I got their store brand legs or thighs, a few packs of dollar veggies, some Sam's Cola, a loaf of bread and a pack or two of hotdogs. That was generally my weekly meal.  Occasionally, grandma would send some dinner so sometimes, we had some residuals. 

If you're in the grey area in which you don't make enough not to sweat over food, but too much for assistance, you had to make some choices sometimes.  A pack of Ramen noodles ranges between $0.10-0.15, but you'll be pretty content.  We all know it's crap!  Church's Chicken used to have the FIE specials on dark meat in which some boxes came out to be about 2 for $1.00.  Again, we know it's CRAP, but in some cases, preaching doesn't fill the bellies. 

I could go on, but I see that I've typed a lot already.  I can see the side eyes and "chile, please" faces calling each of my explanations "excuses".  Hell, I know you all have seen someone with a cart or two full of junk paying with an EBT card.  But as someone who was on EBT, I will tell you that they don't give you one damn form about making healthy decisions in your food purchases (unless they've done so since 2010).  Besides, if you have the means to fill your kitchen with enough food to provide for your family, wouldn't you?

I know not ALL Black people are fat.  I know some Black fokes who eat well, work out daily and break every stereotype chucked at us.  I even know some of them who give back to the community to help those without the knowledge.  But when bloggers and writers want to address obesity in the Black community, I say let's lay all the cards out.  That's why I looked at myself first.  I ate Lean Pockets, drank Diet Dr. Pepper, and stocked up with "No Sugar Added", "Reduced Fat" crap...not knowing I was better off shooting straight.

In closing, we have to be mindful of the entire community.  Don't ask "how can we love our bodies". Instead, ask "how can we fix our communities so we can better care for our bodies".

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