A popular (white) misconception is that fat is more acceptable in the black community. This is patently untrue. Hip-hop culture is often pointed to when one is making this argument. If you watch any hip-hop music videos at all, it’s clear to see that the fat on the women featured is in specific places. Booty, hips, tits. As the inimitable Sir Mix-A-Lot stated, “When a girl walks in with an itty-bitty waist and a round thing [booty] in your face, you get sprung.” (emphasis supplied) There is definitely a line between acceptable fat and unacceptable fat. Those fat women who are fortunate enough to be considered “thick” are subject to an even more extreme hypersexualization of their bodies than average sized or thin black women are. As the features considered sexually desirable not only by black men but also white men are exaggerated on a fat female body, these women are often portrayed as more sexually available, yet can also be portrayed as ghetto princess or hoochie — “Jezebel” and “Sapphire”. But cross that line dividing “thick fat” and “just fat” and you quickly enter the territory of the desexualized fat black woman: the Precious, the mammy. Let’s take the recent example of Gabourey Sidibe, who portrayed Precious, and who basically served as a dumping ground for all the issues people have with fat, specifically, black female fat. This is the type of fat black woman continually mocked by black men in drag. Namely, characters like Eddie Murphy’s Rasputia in Norbit, Tyler Perry’s Madea in any number of his movies, Martin Lawrence’s Shanaynay and Big Mama, and Jamie Foxx’s Wanda on In Living Color. These characters are either considered too old to be sexual and are subject to the mammy stereotype, or their sexuality is portrayed as a joke, something disgusting to be avoided. Clearly the black community is not the utopia of body acceptance white America often believes it to be.
I think it was a post by Snarky’s Machine that first got me to think about this issue (I can’t remember when, though; maybe she’ll drop by with a link) and realize that I’d had this misconception, and probably verbalized it back in the early days of this blog. But I think it’s good to be able to stand up and say, you know what? I was wrong. And I’m glad there are great blogs out there like Racialicious that make me stop and think and, as they say, check my privilege.
Posted by mo pie