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Africa Speaks

Far too many Black Women are overweight
- Part III

Continued from:
Far too many Black Women are overweight - Part I | Part II

Reply on: Mar 17th, 2004, 2:56pm

Well, your posts are also puzzling. I couldn't resist replying to them one more time... so it goes.

Your picture is supposed to prove what? I have lived in 5 countries in Africa (Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Angola, Tanzania and Benin) as well in Europe (France, Spain, England, Germany) and the US. I have had an extensive look at people in these countries and nowhere natives Africans are as fat as people in industrialized countries. You think throwing this picture like confetti as if all people were all fat in Africa is going to make your point? And I never said native Africans have been dealing with hunger since the dawn of times but I have said that MOST native Africans have been enjoying good health because they were lean and light due to proper diet and exercise for thousand of years. Even a fair number of native Africans in the face of extreme poverty today still experience good health as a result. Check my own home country DR Congo. This single picture and article you are throwing is clearly a misinformation and doesn't speak for the entire continent of Africa. Again, I am native African. I know firsthand what cultural beliefs we value. Being fat and obese is certainly not our fancy as we value health and life. You have no clue what native Africans think and feel but only what you have access in western media. You have never lived there. As far as I know, you have never experience neither what life is like nor the typical native African looks like on the continent FROM YOUR OWN EYES. I did that makes me either a truthful witness according to my intellectual and the five senses or direct cognition experience or a liar, decide for yourself. On the continent obese people are VERY few, as we all know how obesity is the cause of many diseases. So, nice try but your point is mute again.

As for the proof of my argumentation, like the verity that the Sacred Texts of old teaching DISCIPLINE and purity of mind, spirit and body is not enough by itself? Have you ever seen a person practicing everyday discipline of eating and being 100 lbs to 300 lbs overweight?? To say so is willful denial or utter foolishness. And yes, women can be "big" if they are proportioned or athletic. They can carry 20 lbs or perhaps 40 lbs overweight, which is quite adequate to support the physical function of the body but certainly not 100 lbs to 300 lbs overweight! At this point, a woman is not overweight but obese. I know personally how it's the origin of some pretty severe constrain physical conditions. I was fat myself 2 years ago I still remember. For instances, you can't squat or lift yourself straight up after sitting on the floor. You can't climb steep hill without gasps and exhaustion, you can't run, you can't make love lengthy. Overall, you can't live the great blessing of life properly. Fact, the slimmer (but healthy) you are the faster you walk and the higher your energy level is. I have done enough endurance sports (power running, dancing, cyclotouring etc.) to know that the 150 lbs sister kicks the [censored] of the 200 lbs sista. So, why denying being SLIM and FIT is a good thing and contributes to a longer life expectancy? BTW my dear, your last article and opinion is irrespective from the views of the majority of Black men out there (sheer hypocrites they are) who PREFER slimmer women at the nightclub, gym or any environment that has a lot of singles. At any rate, I excuse their uncouth attitude towards Black sisters, regardless of our sisters being fit or obese anyway. Unlike the majority of our male counterparts, I absolutely don't care about what I could do with their slim bodies in bed. But on the contrary I care about our sisters' health and longevity in this planet where we are the most VICTIMS of all kind of overt and covert genocides perpetuated by those who continually keep Black people in states of oppression. So, I think you may need to look at these latter facts. I bet you won't. Then we will have to agree to disagree again that's indeed the point of this whole thread.

Bantu Kelani.

Reply on: Mar 17th, 2004, 3:57pm

I wonder why you take this disagreement over specifics like if we are at war. I am engaging this debate because we have debated racism, gender discrimination and colorism and I strongly feel size discrimination is another of the negative discriminations to look at.

Having said that however, I really don't know how I am supposed to respond to this post. Are you telling me that living in Africa in the 21st century makes you an expert on ancient African principles of diet? And that by seeing casually maybe thousands of people makes you an expert on all people who live there? Well in that case you cannot speak of people in the Caribbean as you did before then, as you have never been here. And nor can anyone anywhere make a statement on anyplace that they have not lived?? I know many people living in the U.S who look to others outside of the U.S to explain what is happening there. Residing somewhere does not by itself mean one knows more about a particular place. If you would like to play that card you will certainly have to still back up your claims. Saying I am from there so I know is simply not enough.

Where is the evidence I requested to the wild claims you made in your earlier posts? That the pyramid texts and the Ayur-Veda's claim that being slim is a preferred size for health and spiritual advancement? You have been skirting this. It is not enough to glibly say

Bantu Kelani wrote:
"As for the proof of my argumentation, like the verity that the Sacred Texts of old teach DISCIPLINE and purity of mind, spirit and body is not enough by itself?"

That is an obvious cop out. We certainly seem to have differing opinions on what constitutes discipline and purity of mind and body. And I suspect you and our esteemed ancestors differ on that too. If you choose to use ancient African principles as evidence of the rightness of your claim that slim is better/ healthier than fat in some way then you must state where you got this from. Unless you provide that, especially for the many who are reading this reasoning very carefully, I can only assume that you were grasping at straws to build an argument. You assume much about what I have seen and what I know but again unless you provide some concrete evidence to your claims that African ancient concepts of diet and size conform to your views then I can see no validity in your argument. You made specific statements: BACK THEM UP.

As for your experience with your own weight, well you cannot at all assume that it is uniform. And as for this:

Bantu Kelani wrote:
Have you ever seen a person practicing everyday discipline of eating and being FAT??

My answer is: YES!!! YES I HAVE! She can lift her foot over her head and do a full split and displays the greatest economy of motion of anyone I have ever seen. These that I know of are not any ordinary women but ones whom many have the utmost respect, reverence and adoration for. As a seeker of truth as you say you are, you would do well to regard these women, as they are the epitome of what we call WOMAN.

Your experiences do not make you an expert on all people, which is why it is vital that other sides of this reasoning must come forward. It is vital that other women who may be seen as obese or fat or unhealthy know that this view of weight meaning ill health is not a universal truth and that they need to work out their body images and body health by being widely informed and without the brunt of negative discrimination. Ordinary people need to know that there are women who may look like them physically who are far beyond the females that may be revered by our wider society. They live by a standard far higher and far older.

The point in the picture, since you seem to have missed it, is that by western standards that woman is considered overweight and if I interpret some of your comments correctly she is obese by extension. But Obese is a medical definition and one that is not determined by casual observation, notwithstanding the fact that the medics are often wrong on this. But the point in the photo is that to others and maybe even the woman there, she is quite fine and fit. And if she is fine with her size, who are we to negatively discriminate against her?

Bantu Kelani wrote:
one you can't squat or lift yourself straight up after sitting on the floor. You can't climb steep hill without gasps and exhaustion, you can't run, you can't make love lengthy. Overall, you can't live the great blessing of life properly.

But I have shown that this is certainly not true for all fat people but may be the experiences of some who should see a doctor and get better advice on their health. However we cannot use this definition for all people who are fat.

You are absolutely wrong to assume that native Africans enjoyed good health because they were slim. They were healthy by their standards at the time and they had diets relative to their region and Yes Ancient Africans unlike what is portrayed in parts of Africa like Egypt had a wide array of sizes depending on their region they inhabited.

Nowhere in any of my posts do I attempt to speak for all of African and even all Black people but I can speak from my varied personal experiences and research and the same way that one picture does not speak for all Africans, the slim image does not either. That has been the point of my entire argument. There is no uniform size, weight, and judgment of health for all people, black white or otherwise. This is some thing that has to be determined by the person through examination, research, considering all views and becoming comfortable in their own bodies. We must develop healthier lifestyles and that begins from inside and coming to an understanding of our divine purposes, not from a diet book or on a treadmill.


Reply on: Mar 18th, 2004, 12:37pm

Obesity vs. Size

The term obesity is a word thrown around to define anyone who does not fit the current stereotype of size. The media portrays proper size in an unrealistic picture constantly bombarding us with images that have very little to do with most people I come in contact with. In fact I have never seen anyone who fits the image of this perfect size.

While ones size seems predetermined genetically, it can fluctuate. One of the key factors is diet. It is easy to fall into the poor diet syndrome with the day-to-day demands, which distract us from one of the most important aspects of our existence. What we eat, when and how. The typical western diet is encouraged to be fast with no consideration for quality. In fact the additives used in fast food as well as that offered at the mainstream supermarkets contain hormones and additives which have been recognized to alter the ability to maintain size. This same low quality food rushed into the system has adverse affects emotionally as well. The additives can cause emotional stress as these are not naturally assimilated into the body and can toxically trigger negative emotional reactions. Often since eating is considered comfort it can be hard to recognize bad food as a culprit in a negative emotional state. So we eat more. Once we consider how what and when we eat we can reach the balance necessary to maintain our Self-size.

If we are struggling with this issue it is easy to fall prey to all the fads, which guarantee results. This is another one of those illusions, which I have yet to see work. I personally have seen and heard of many who bought the book and followed the plan and initially lost a bit of weight only to be more discouraged when the plan failed. Again it goes back to proper nutrition. And proper Self image. We can use height as a yardstick to see this a little clearer. If we are 4 feet tall as an adult are we going to spend all our excess time and resources trying to reach 6 foot?

So we have fat people and skinny people and all who fall somewhere in between. Obesity has a separate category. Obesity is over sized to the point of a life threatening condition. Obesity can be the extreme result from massive bad nutrition, however most examples I have seen are present from birth and are similar to other birth defects.

To equate size, as with any physical characteristics, with quality of character severely limits our ability to fully embrace Self. It also hinders us from being able to embrace others due to what we perceive as a flaw.

Reply on: Mar 19th, 2004, 9:02am

Some general comments:

What people mean when they say 'overweight' will differ, and even doctors have problems defining obesity. They claim, "Obesity specifically refers to an excess amount of body fat. Some people, such as bodybuilders or other athletes with a lot of muscle, can be overweight without being obese." They further state, "Like most things, obesity is a complex phenomenon about which it is dangerous to generalize. What is true for one person is not necessarily true for the next." Measuring obesity requires some technical ability, and is not something that can be casually observed.

Many people do not like their own bodies, and I would suggest that they check their attitude and other habits before rushing to change. It is far too common that a person alters his or her body only to develop a stronger negative discriminatory attitude towards others who see no need to alter theirs.

Good health cannot be simply measured by how long someone 'lives' (occupies a body), especially now that people can sustain their bodies for a long time with drugs and machines while being in a dysfunctional state. These medical advancements have up sides, but they do little to address the negative discriminatory conduct of most people.

The concept of measuring good health by the length of the physical life of people is flawed as some people work much harder than others, and as such some people do put much more work on their bodies than others. A person can do more in 40 years than another in 100 years. People accomplish what they desire at different rates, and the stress to their bodies is relative to what they do and how they think, so measuring the quality of health by the length of 'life' is not correct in my view.

Most of the views shared on this thread should be part of people's own psychological examination as they question altering their bodies. People may choose to alter their bodies for a whole host of reasons, and that is really their right.

Often the need to lose weight can be tied to 'medical issues', and while many may have legitimate medical reasons to lose weight, the 'medical issues' line is often used as a cliché and an excuse to strive for their 'tainted' ideas of beauty.

I watched one glaring example of this during Oprah's fitness craze where she felt she had to reduce her size to be cool. At that time during her shows she would encourage others to do like her, but with all her material resources and modifications to her eating habit she put back on the weight.

Before she attempted to drop weight, I never found anything wrong with her body on a cosmetic level. I felt she had an ok enough size, but she obviously did not find so (for either cosmetic or health reasons) and who better than her to test it...she certainly had the resources. Who knows the countless females she made feel badly about their own bodies while she was advocating a slimmer figure? But as was proven it did not work for her.

This matter of appropriate size is really up to how people feel about their bodies and health, and they can reasonably change it if they feel badly about their form.

Over the generations as foods have been artificially modified, some people's bodies developed a tendency to fatten; this is not withstanding the modern habit of overeating to deal with depression and low self-esteem. This however is no easy thing to address as many people cannot afford to go to gyms, and many even if they can afford it would realize that maintaining a form against the natural inclinations of the body is expensive, and can become a lifelong work which also adds other dangers to one's health.

The moral of the story is that people should really look at what is fueling the desire to alter their bodies. Are they satisfied with the medical or fitness experts or are they really having problems doing what they wish to do? Of course changing one's look for aesthetic reasons is no big thing and is a personal choice. But seeing that we are addressing things that affect most people, especially Black people, then how people view others based on their own choice to change is important.

Is it that all who do not wish to alter their bodies should not get suitable jobs that they are qualified for, or should be refused access to goods and services because they do not see the need to alter their bodies which are not affecting them doing the tasks they wish to engage? Is it that we are to make others feel ugly or uncomfortable because they would like to participate and are ok with their own large bodies as it is?

The issues surrounding overweight and obesity are about a lot more than exercising and simply eating less for most people. It involves the contaminated foods most people eat and the poor advice they get about their own health to begin with. It involves the stress most people undergo, and it generally involves people's low level of awareness about themselves (low self esteem).

Kristine wrote:
To equate size, as with any physical characteristics, with quality of character severely limits our ability to fully embrace Self. It also hinders us from being able to embrace others due to what we perceive as a flaw.

This quote from Kristine is very important.

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