Black Women, Racism/Sexism and Weight

Is Racism (& Sexism) Making Black Women Angry & Fat?

I just completed a questionnaire about black women’s body image, eating habits and racism (shout-out to Vizionheiry for bringing it to my attention). I love participating in marketing and psychological research, so completing this survey was a no-brainer for me. The following warning made me pause for a few seconds, though:

The potential risk associated with this study is the possibility of discomfort in disclosing your feelings about yourself and your experiences in life.

But I jumped in anyway. Hell, I’m just thankful that someone cares enough to actually research these topics.

 

As I answered the questions, I began having some “aha!” moments. Questions about how we view ourselves that itemize our physical features helped me realize which parts of me I find more attractive than others and why. Questions about how much our self-evaluations of our beauty is influenced by others (specifically, black men) highlight how much of my opinions are based on my own values vs. other people’s values. Questions about how much of other people’s reactions to me that I ascribe to my race and how I feel about these illustrate the level to which I identify with “the black experience” – namely, the experience of being a victim of racism.
Yep, as I moved down the questions, it dawned on me why these beauty and racism topics are linked together. A great deal of Black women’s stress (numbing the pain -> overeating -> obesity), hostility towards other women (even other Black women), difficulties in interpersonal relationships, etc. can largely be attributed to, or at least understood through, our responses to this survey. It may also explain Black women (and men)’s easy camaraderie with other Blacks who can “feel their pain”, who have similarly processed the racism they experience, why certain Blacks are distrustful of Blacks who don’t wallow in their reactions to racism (as if not wallowing means they haven’t experienced the same level of racism), etc. So when given the option to receive the findings to this study, I jumped at this opportunity, too. These findings can be a great conversation starter for Black women to own some of our feelings about racism, and confront how these often suppressed feelings are affecting our lives.

I’m extremely in favor of ALL Blacks getting psychotherapy. Maybe if we did, Black women would learn how to recognize the symptoms of anger and depression that we exhibit without knowing it. Maybe if we did, Black Men would learn how to recognize how they contribute to our daily stress by compounding racism with sexism…and they’d learn how to understand and cope with Black Women’s Anger instead of entering interracial relationships solely based on the pretense of escaping this condition. Many of us complain about our voices being ignored. Well, here’s a way for us to be heard.

If you’re a Black woman, I highly recommend that you participate in this important study and share it with your sister circle. It took me about 27 minutes to complete (while multitasking).

 

Take the study here.

 

In the interest of pulling our skeletons out of the closet & facilitating some group healing, here are my responses to some of the social questions:

 

As someone with a marketing/psychological education and background, I greatly respect a well-designed questionnaire. The way the questions are split in this section between 1.) How often do you experience this because of race? and 2.) How much does this bother you? is brilliant. Very well-done.

What do you think of the idea of this research study? Do you plan on participating? What do you expect to be in the findings? Is there a connection between racism & Black women’s eating habits and body image? If you’re a Black woman, have you noticed a connection between your feelings of stress, anxiety, anger and loneliness and your eating habits? Can this research shed some light on the chasm between Black women and between Black women and Black men? What’s the one misconception about you or Black women in general that you would like to eliminate or clarify? If you’ve completed the survey, wanna share some of your responses/reactions? Anything else on your mind?
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