How Racism And Religion Shamed ‘Fat’ Black Bodies To Uphold Oppression

images for obesity
L. Graciella Maiolatesi
February 8, 2023

Enslavers desperately sought reasons to discount Blackness. They pushed the narrative that Black bodies were fat and inferior and white bodies were thin and superior.

Enslavers believed their thinness was Godliness. Protestantism designed an entire religious-social culture around will power and discipline to maintain thinness. It suggested that Black people were prone to sensual excesses and fatness was a sign of immorality.  

Unfortunately, impacts of this were lasting.

Today roughly 30 million Americans and 70 million non-Americans have eating disorders. Every hour someone dies from health issues stemming from them. 

But even these numbers are skewed. Studies focus more on anorexia, which more commonly impacts white populations. But there’s another twisted reason we’re being left out of healing from toxic thinness.

Fatphobia. Generations of shaming larger Black bodies means that today many Black people aren’t diagnosed with disordered eating because our bodies don’t look like emaciated bodies with eating disorders.

Enslavers tried it, using God to body shame us. If we’re gonna bring God into it, then we have to acknowledge that “fat and Black” is one of the many body types….”

There are numerous reasons someone might be fat. Fat Black people are JUST as worthy of liberation, love, and respect. Loving ourselves and the bodies we’re in is what freedom truly looks like!

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