One of my favorite past times is talking to men about women. What they like and find attractive about us. Their thoughts about relationships, etc. I find men's opinions so funny and at the same time intriguing. Their outlook is so different at times than most women's. One of the things I find the most fascinating is how they view the woman's body.
A friend of mine keeps close watch on my weight. Whenever I talk about dropping a few pounds, he shares his contempt. If he notices me eating lighter and healthier, he shakes his head in annoyance and lectures me on the importance of, not just keeping my weight, but gaining more. According to this friend, I not only look fine, I am actually getting too skinny and should gain about 10 good pounds. In his opinion, women should be soft and not hard. I explain, I only want to tighten my belly fat and pull these thighs in just a quarter of an inch each. He, frustrated, tells me that what I am doing is not going to help me lose just those parts, but all of my 'good parts' too. So if he catches me eating chips or junk, he nods in absolute approval. Today, he bought me warm chocolate chip cookies from Subway, just the way I like them.
Yesterday he, in an animated tone, predicted if I gain, instead of lose the 10lbs I am trying to drop, I will be married in 6 months time. The way he sees it, 'skinny girls get no love.' My friend suggests I gain the weight to catch a man and then lose it once married. Because in his words, 'all women change when they get married anyway.' I asked another friend his thoughts and he said, 'you have been looking kind of frail lately.' Umm, I am a good 162lbs, standing 5'7.5". That is not frail. Did I mention he is hilarious? Debating him is so fun, because he is so steadfast about his opinions on everything.
My argument was I have no desire to be skinny, I just want to tone up a couple of things while I can, like this stomach. He stated, men love bellies. That a woman is supposed to be soft and not hard. My friend lamented that this is the midwest and it gets cold. Men want something to hold on too. Another guy friend I asked stated that Black women look better with meat on their bones. The upside is, I was born into a great culture that embraces me being a grown woman. The downside, who if not your man, will tell you to put the Sprinkles cupcake down?? He wants something cuddly to lay on and cuddle up to, okay, I agree. I am not necessarily a fan of women with the bodies like men. You know the type where your instinct is to check for an adam's apple, but you're scared if you stare to hard, you'll get your ass whupped. Yeah, those 'girls'. But what really irked me, is how unhealthy we as Black women become and are, in an effort to stay/be 'thick as hell.'
I have often said, there is a thin line between being thick and just being fat. Too many of these 'thick' girls I see are a burrito away from exiting and entering the house through a garage door. Sad to say, a lot of times that mentality comes from men. I remember years ago, my sister's then husband said, in reference to her adopting a healthier lifestyle and losing weight, 'just don't lose that ass.' Well newsflash, you show me a girl with a big ass, hips and thighs, and at least 70% have bellies, arm and back fat to go with it. There is rarely an in between.
Their attitude about this issue is only one of the many reasons why I love brothas. I remember the reactions I received at my heaviest weight. I lived in Tampa with my cousin; together we created a decadent lifestyle for ourselves. We would eat Cheesecake Factory cheesecake for dinner (yep, just the cheesecake, no food), drink martinis and wine and spend our weekends laying out on the beach for hours on end. With no exercise included, my body shot up to the 10lbs my friends speaks of so fondly. Let me tell you, I was a biggin. I did not realize it until I saw pictures of myself, or tried to fit my size 12 hips into an unforgiving size 6; I was totally in denial! I remember crying in dressing rooms, buying extra clothes (the ones I had did not fit), getting winded climbing a simple flight of stairs and most of all my sweaty thighs rubbing together walking in that hot Florida sun! The brothas in Tampa were not feeling me; shoot, I wasn't feeling me! When I returned home after 6 months, I will never forget being in Hyde Park, walking north on Blackstone, a northbound, one-way street. Out of no where, some dude in a car coming from behind, shouted, 'ay-ay short-ay!' I should have been insulted that he had totally objectified me in public, I mean, he could only see my butt. He had no clue what my face looked like. Regardless, the smile that crept across my face was priceless. I was home!! It did not stop there, out at clubs with my girls, brothas didn't seem to mind my new juiciness. One even affectionately whispered how nice my 'big legs' looked. I dated this guy, soon after my return; we fell off for a couple of months. We reconnected after I had slimmed down about 20lbs, to my surprise, he was a bit disappointed, stating he thought I looked too fragile.
The fact that, according to womenheart.org, African American women are 35% more likely to die of heart disease, is even more reason to be mindful of our inner bodies (you can be svelte and still be unhealthy) as well as our outer bodies. Oh men, if we listened solely to them, we would be jacked up. So as I lift my fork-full of salad while writing this, I chuckle to myself. It is good to know I can gain weight and still have a relatively large population of brothas who would accept me for who I am and how I look. But in the meantime, I have my own goals for my personal physique.