Obesity in America is a problem across the racial spectrum.  Fellow Columnist Debra Dickerson suggests that African American women are more inclined to be overweight because African American men prefer them to be so.  Dickerson and I discuss this today on NPR’s Tell Me More with friend and journalist Michel Martin on this week’s Behind Closed Doors.

What Kicked Off the Conversation…

Debra Dickerson wrote an article on Salon.com entitled “Healthy, my ass!” after reading “End Run –How a few black publishers are making a play for the Maxim man” in The Village Voice.  Here’s an excerpt from The Village Voice article:

"With more curves than J.Lo, and more badonkadonk than Vida Guerra, Buffie the Body is a phenom. Forty-five inches around, with the word Tasty tattooed on the right cheek, her ample backside makes Maxim models look like surfboards.

… "There are a lot of jeans that they just don’t make in my size."

Heading for the elevator, she grudgingly accepts an offer to carry her suitcase. There’s no entourage to grab the bag; Buffie Carruth doesn’t travel with one. She doesn’t have much use for other "model" behavior either. She eats nothing but junk food and sugary drinks, and she doesn’t work out. But make no mistake: She’s as recognizable in the black community as some supermodels, having starred in a G-Unit rap video and appeared in the movie ATL (character name: Big Booty Judy). She makes $5,000 to $10,000 a night hosting parties around the country."

And from Debra’s article:

"Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder and need not justify itself. I love (non-steroidal) body builders’ physiques and, pre-kids, I was that hardcore gym rat haranguing co-workers over the contents of their lunch sacks. My own mother found my buff body distasteful, though it would have taken Gitmo to make her admit it (my family deputized a representative to ask me if I was gay). So, my issue is not with a butt fetish per se. Fetishizing large rumps (though "large" doesn’t tell you the half of it without the pix) is, of course, no better or worse than fetishizing plastic blimp-breasts, except that the latter could be considered safer. Their supply can be halted, surgeons are regulated, patients are monitored and, of course, the bearers themselves can have the implants removed. But the best way to get a gargantuan ass of urban-lad-mag size is to be obese; this is also the path to ill health and early death for black women, as Buffie’s lifestyle amply demonstrates.

According to the Voice, Buffie "eats nothing but junk food and sugary drinks, and she doesn’t work out." Starting out at only 120 pounds 10 years ago, she developed her "attributes" by chugging supplement shakes in order to gain weight. "Black women don’t want to be skinny," she said.

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