Black people, and Black women in particular, face considerable health challenges. Compared with their rates in other racial groups, chronic cardiovascular, inflammatory and metabolic risk factors have been found to be elevated in Black women, even after controlling for behaviors such as smoking, physical exercise or dietary variables.
Black women have also been identified as the subgroup with the highest body mass index (BMI) in the U.S., with four out of five classified as either “overweight” or “obese.”
...This heightened concern about their weight is not new; it reflects the racist stigmatization of Black women’s bodies.
...Today the idea that weight is the main problem dogging Black women builds on these historically racist ideas and ignores how interrelated social factors impact Black women’s health.
...The most effective and ethical approaches for improving health should aim to change the conditions of Black women’s lives: tackling racism, sexism and weightism and providing opportunity for individuals to thrive.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S) Sabrina Strings is an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine, and author of Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia (N.Y.U. Press, 2019).
Lindo Bacon (formerly Linda) is an associate nutritionist at the University of California, Davis. They are author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight (BenBella, 2010) and Radical Belonging (BenBella, 2020) and co-author of Body Respect (BenBella, 2014).