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Big, Black, Beautiful and Unapologetic!

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By: Nevaeh Richardson

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, frankly, who gives a damn what you think! That is what more women are saying these days – tired of living under the microscope and scrutiny of judgment and unwanted advice.

Why can’t we all just let a person be whom they want to be – especially if they are not bothering you. Can we be FAT and HAPPY? Sounds strange that we even have to ask these questions, but sadly, today, we do!

The “weight loss industry” is racking in billions – from a collection of fad diets and products, “healthy meal” services, exercise equipment, gym memberships, waist trainers, etc. etc. etc. because so many of us are trying to live up to others’ standard of beauty.

We are not against anyone getting healthy and physically fit, that is necessary to save lives, we are just against the stigma of people trying to “perfect” themselves and not focusing on positive body images.

Black women are in a category all by themselves. Many of us will never fit into the “Hollywood” stereotypical – or rather European – ideals of beauty. We are, by design, made stronger, with more athletic builds, broader shoulders, thicker legs and backsides that many other races are paying for in an effort to duplicate cosmetically.

But just as much as they try to imitate, they also try to annihilate when it comes to the “true image” of the beautiful, Black woman. They tell us that we ARE NOT beautiful or worthy, and try to make us believe it ourselves.

Well, women like Oprah Winfrey, Queen Latifah, Loni Love, Mo’Nique, and even the late Della Reese showed us “large and in charge” Black women are a true sight to behold.

But while all these queens were fashionably modest, newcomer Lizzo is taking her self-confidence to a whole new level – and stirring quite a few feathers. She’s been quite the shocker either baring it all or wearing scantily-clad clothing that many people have said should be worn by “skinny folks.” Their criticisms drove her to pull slightly back from the spotlight.

Lizzo made her return to social media last Monday after leaving for over a year because of the constant hate and negativity she received.

On August 13th, the three-time Grammy winner released her latest project, “Rumors,” featuring rapper Cardi B. The song deals with some of the backlash Lizzo has received since being in the spotlight and displays Lizzo’s positive outlook and confidence to be herself.

But it was only a matter of time (two days) before Lizzo would be trending for her looks – again – instead of her talent. The Houston native went on Instagram Live to express her frustration and disappointment.

“I just feel like I’m seeing negativity directed towards me in the most weirdest way, like, people saying s–t about me that just doesn’t even make sense,” she said. “It’s fat-phobic and it’s racist and it’s hurtful. If you don’t like my music, cool. If you don’t like ‘Rumors’ the song, cool. But a lot of people don’t like me because of the way I look.”

Lizzo’s completely right, her talent and creative vision are being largely ignored because she is a big, Black woman.

Many critics argue that Lizzo promotes an unhealthy lifestyle, but in reality, she actually promotes healthy eating and exercise. Even if she didn’t, her making music and being comfortable in the skin she’s in is not “promoting” obesity. She’s just being herself.

Lots of people get confused when they see a fat person who is happy and secure.  Society tells us that fat equals unhappiness, or more so, if you are fat, you do not deserve to be happy. That is what’s happening with Lizzo. People are outraged at her confidence and want to punish her for breaking the mold that says fat people deserve less. Society would rather Lizzo, a big Black woman, hide and shame herself than express herself in the best way she knows how.

Critics can’t comprehend how this plus-size woman is as successful as she is today. Fatness has been seen as a failure, or as something shameful but Lizzo celebrates it and has used her “larger than life” looks and talent to take her straight to the top.

The double standards are clear, Lizzo is doing the same things other Black women are doing in the music industry, yet receives a very different response.

So, the question is: is it about looks or is it about health?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost 4 out of 5 Black women are overweight or obese. In 2018, Black women were 50% more likely to be obese than white women. Also, in 2018 Black people were 20% less likely to engage in physical activity and 1.3 times more likely to be obese than our white counterparts.

A U.S. National Library of Medicine study found that socioeconomic factors played a huge role in high obesity rates in Black American and Black Caribbean men and women. Type 2 Diabetes, coronary heart disease, asthma, and strokes were more prevalent in the Black community than in other races.

Yes, obesity and associated health risks are a huge problem in our communities. But Lizzo does not promote an unhealthy lifestyle. She stands against fatphobia and promotes physical activity and healthy eating.

The point is this – we all need to focus on eating better, exercising more and practicing a healthy lifestyle. But when it comes to our mental health – we need to focus on loving ourselves more and accept others for who they are.  It’s alright to be FAT AND HAPPY! — AANI

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