Won’t someone stand up for the skinny girls? I am a thin 30-year-old woman of African descent who resents Sarah Godfrey’s article “Chunky but Funky” (5/23). Not only is it racially divisive, it pits fat black girls against skinny ones. Godfrey writes that thin women:
* don’t have “real” bodies, but rather impossible ones.
* don’t cook and don’t appreciate food.
* nibble only on lettuce leaves.
* don’t look healthy, cared-for, or loved.
* are sickly, are miserable, and don’t love themselves.
Godfrey goes so far as to use the image of “a pipehead” to refer to skinny women, and says that anyone who would eat from Whole Foods rather than from Popeyes must have a few screws looseinsulting us skinny girls and encouraging obesity in fat girls!
In a stand-up routine, fat black comic Mo’Nique exhorts all the “fat bitches” in the audience to hit any “skinny bitches” near them over the head! Godfrey’s article, though subtler, is in the same vein. And considering all of Godfrey’s rhetoric about the high self-esteem of fat black women, such insults shouldn’t be necessary. As a skinny black woman who has never been sickly or anorexic, who does not diet, and who gets her slender physique genetically from her mother, I’m offended.
I also do not appreciate the twice-made assertion that “African-American women are always hippy, have large derrières…” There are an awful lot of us who are not, and who do not have. We are not all trying to be white, as Godfrey implies. I eat healthy because my mother did not raise us on fast food or processed foods, and eating for nutritional value makes sense. My food choices have nothing to do with me trying to fit a media image.
I think the real story here may lie in the synchronicity of the facts that although African-American women are more likely to be poor, they are also more likely to be overweightand also that it’s a part of our African culture to think that “being big is a sign of affluence.” Do some poor women eat a lot because subconsciously they want to be big, so that they don’t look poor? And why is the most affordable food usually the most fattening and least nutritious?
Maybe Godfrey could have used some of her space to address these questions rather than to poke fun at skinny women. She doesn’t think society should make overweight women feel bad about how they look; I don’t think African-Americans should renounce sisters like me for being thin.