Tag Archives: Size & Race

IT HAPPENED TO ME: I’M A BIG BLACK GIRL AROUND SMALL WHITE PEOPLE & I’M SUDDENLY FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE WITH IT (a response to Jen Caron & xoJane.com)

Below is my response to Jen Carons “IT HAPPENED TO ME: THERE ARE NO BLACK PEOPLE IN MY YOGA CLASSES AND I’M SUDDENLY FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE WITH IT” post on xoJane.com yesterday. Here is an excerpt of what she wrote:

A few weeks ago, as I settled into an exceptionally crowded midday class, a young, fairly heavy black woman put her mat down directly behind mine. It appeared she had never set foot in a yoga studio—she was glancing around anxiously, adjusting her clothes, looking wide-eyed and nervous. Within the first few minutes of gentle warm-up stretches, I saw the fear in her eyes snowball, turning into panic and then despair. Before we made it into our first downward dog, she had crouched down on her elbows and knees, head lowered close to the ground, trapped and vulnerable. She stayed there, staring, for the rest of the class.

Because I was directly in front of her, I had no choice but to look straight at her every time my head was upside down (roughly once a minute). I’ve seen people freeze or give up in yoga classes many times, and it’s a sad thing, but as a student there’s nothing you can do about it. At that moment, though, I found it impossible to stop thinking about this woman. Even when I wasn’t positioned to stare directly at her, I knew she was still staring directly at me. Over the course of the next hour, I watched as her despair turned into resentment and then contempt. I felt it all directed toward me and my body.

Now, I’d like to share my story… IT HAPPENED TO ME: I’M A BIG BLACK GIRL AROUND SMALL WHITE PEOPLE & I’M SUDDENLY FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE WITH IT (a response to Jen Carons)

A few weeks ago I was taking a 7am class at an small/pricey fitness center in NYC. The classes at this fitness center only have 12 people in them which means we all get lots of personal attention. While the majority of the students in my class were women, I was the only black woman in the class. Actually, I was the only black person in the class… and for what its worth, I was the only plus size person in the class too.

Before class began we all introduced ourselves. There was a Kristy, a Liz, a Lisa, some other names I can’t remember and me, CeCe.

For the duration of the class, our bubbly blonde instructor encouraged everyone by name, “Nice Kristy!”, “Good job Liz!”, etc. she would also encourage me “Go, Girl!” she’d say… “Alright, Girl!”… “Nice, GIRL!” she’d yell standing over me with a beaming smile.

Everyone else in the class was called by name, but I, the only fat black woman in the class was called “Girl” (or was it “Guurl”?)

Jen Carons account of being made hyper aware of her white-ness and her skinny-ness while in the presence of a big black woman resonated with me because I am in that situation regularly, of course I play the role of the confused black woman who doesn’t understand why people constantly talk about their color and size when they’re around me.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have people make announcements about the color of their skin or the size of their body every time they saw you? Welcome to my world!

Like when white men grab me to dance at a bar and then interrupt our fun to announce “I’m such a white boy, right?”

Or when small white women wistfully tell me how much they really wish they could gain weight and be more “curvy”.

You see, from where I sit Jen’s sudden awareness of her whiteness was only a reflection of how hyper aware she was of the big black woman in such close, intimate proximity to her.

I mean, it would be racist weird to say “OMG! You’re so big and black!” so instead she says “OMG! I’m so white and small”

As a plus size woman of color, people are constantly “telling on themselves” in regards to how they see me. It could be as simple as calling me “girl” instead of my name or being shocked when I sing along to Incubus songs, it could be something as nuanced as mentioning their own appearance in contrast to mine, or as awkward as quoting Tyler Perry to me and assuming I’ll get the reference (I won’t).

If Jen Caron would like to think about how a big black girl feels, she can think about one of my realities: I’ve come to accept that for many of my associates, I am a big black woman for a very long time and then once they get over their own stereotypical interpretations of what that is, I become a person named CeCe.

I do give Jen credit for trying to put herself in my shoes though, she said…

I thought about how that must feel: to be a heavyset black woman entering for the first time a (yoga) system that by all accounts seems unable to accommodate her body. What could I do to help her?

The answer to that is easy, I don’t need your help… I’m good!

Side Plank

Size & Race: Being Plus Size and Asian

Disclaimer: This is a subject I’ve wanted to write about for a while. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, but anything offensive or hateful will be deleted.

We’ve talked about how women of certain races are almost expected to be curvy/thick/bigger, but what if your ethnicity was expected to be tiny… and you weren’t. If I asked you to describe what an Asian woman looks like, what would you say? Words that would come to mind for me right away would be: small and petite. The words “small and petite” definitely do not come to mind for Plus Size Princesses, but there are plenty of Asian PSP’s in the world.

I don’t think we can continue our size & race discussion without talking about the experience of being Plus Size and Asian. I am not Asian, but I’ve heard people make ignorant comments like “I didn’t know Chinese people could get fat” and I’ve had conversations with some Asian TBGB readers about the pressure that comes from their family to lose weight.

We all know that being overweight can make you feel like the odd-girl out, but if people look at you and assume that you should be thin because of your background, it can make that feeling more intense.

As I thought about this subject, I reached out to Allison Teng from Curvy Girl Chic. Allison is one of the most adorable Plus Size Fashion bloggers around and… she’s Asian! I thought bringing her into the conversation would be a good way to hear from a PSP who understands more than I ever could!

Allison and I had a long email exchange and she was super open and honest, so I thought I’d just share our conversation with you… here goes!

CeCe: So, when it comes to being Asian and +size, what has your experience been?

Allison: Being plus size and Chinese/Taiwanese really wasn’t that tough when I was younger. I was just another fat kid, if that makes sense. Race didn’t really factor in. It wasn’t until I went back to Asia that it really hit me just how large I was compared to ALL the other people. EVERYONE in Asia is tiny (skinny and short!).  Sales people don’t just ignore you like they do in the US. They STARE. So unnerving.

CeCe: Wowza! How about your family? Are they supportive of you? Do they pressure you to lose weight?

Allison: My family is AWESOME, and relative to other traditional Chinese families, extremely forward-thinking. Still, having them accept my size was kind of a growing process. I’m lucky though, that they’ve always focused on the health aspect of weight, rather than losing weight just to be skinny. I know they worry and nag because they care. And I can live with that. My extended family, on the other hand, is MUCH more traditional. I’m pretty sure I’m the largest person my grandfather has ever laid eyes on, and the last time I saw him in Taiwan, the first thing he was to me (in Mandarin) was “Wow! You got even fatter?!” …seriously. I’m pretty secure in myself, but that definitely threw me for a loop!

CeCe: LOL @ being the biggest person your grandfather has ever seen. Fat is such a different concept in other countries. I’m Nigerian and when we went back my cousins were like “you’re fat” this and “you’re fat” that… I’m like dying inside because americans don’t talk about weight so bluntly. They didn’t mean harm, to them its just the truth!

So, now for the juicy stuff lol! What’s your dating life been like?

Allison: When I was single, you can bet that Asian guys NEVER hit on me. Everrrrrr. I live in one of the most densely Asian cities in Southern California, and when I have received male attention, it has N-E-V-E-R been from an (East) Asian guy. The attention I got was always from hispanic, black, or middle eastern guys, never white or east asian guys. But now I’m with my ever-so-awesome boyfriend now (he’s half-white, half Vietnamese).

CeCe: Awwww… Hooray for awesome boyfriends! Do you have any general words of advice for Asian PSP’s?

Allison: My advice to big girls in the Asian community is the same advice I give to big girls everywhere–don’t waste time comparing yourself to others! I’m never going to be that skinny, pale-skinned Asian girl with stick-straight, long dyed hair and big anime eyes, but that doesn’t matter! Focus on doing things that make you feel good about yourself. As hard as it is, try to filter out the negative media and instead, focus on whatever make you happiest.

Be sure to follow Allison on twitter, say hello and tell her that CeCe sent you! (@CurvyGirlChic)

So now its YOUR turn to chime in… we’d love to hear your general thoughts or you can answer these questions:

Are you an Asian PSP? If so, what’s your experience been like? If you’re not an Asian PSP, do you find that you assume things about other cultures when it comes to their weight?

Size & Race: Who Has it “Easier”?

Disclaimer: This is a subject I’ve wanted to write about for a while. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, but anything offensive or hateful will be deleted.

As I sat in the front row during New Jersey Full Figured Fashion Week in Atlantic City (which was awesome by the way), a beautiful black model was given a few minutes to speak in between shows. She talked about how she came to be a plus size model and embrace her body. “I used to be skinny,” she proclaimed “but as ya’ll know– in the Afro-American community… skinny is NOT where it’s at!” she continued to boast about her improved self confidence after gaining weight and encouraged the plus size women in the audience to embrace their curves.

While I agree 100% with what she had to say about self-love, I had to wonder about her cut and dry assessment that as a black woman, gaining weight was the best thing when it came to her dating life. In talking to different Plus Size Princesses, I’ve noticed that there’s a common assumption that if you’re black or latina, being overweight is a breeze. But if you’re white it’s a struggle.

Did any of you read the article in the Washington Post a few weeks ago about Black women being happier at a larger size? It took on this subject from a somewhat scientific perspective and came to the same conclusion; Black/latina women grow up being praised for “thickness” so they don’t have a hard time if they’re big.

My personal opinion is that no matter what race you are– the ideal body type is skinny/small/thin and while women of color may be praised for having fat in the “right places” (i.e. a big butt, full hips or large breasts) women of color are rarely praised for just being fat.

If I took a poll of 100 Plus Size Princesses of color who read this blog, I don’t think their dating lives would be any easier than white PSPs. I would be willing to bet that they’ve all been called names… been looked over by guys… been told to lose weight in order to become desirable. And I think it does Plus Size Princesses of color a disservice to just assume their plus size lives are any less complicated.

Perhaps culturally, plus size women of color have a better chance of embracing their bodies, but that’s not something you’re born with… loving yourself its something you work at no matter what your cultural background is. But again, those are my thoughts…

What do YOU think? Does your race make being a big girl… easier?

Plus Size Dating & Race: Does it Matter?

Disclaimer: This is a subject I’ve wanted to write about for a while. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, but anything offensive or hateful will be deleted.

“Overheard in New York” is one of my favorite blogs. As the name of the site implies, people submit snippets of conversation that they’ve overheard while being in NYC. Here is a post that I found the other day (excuse the language):

When I read this, my first thought was what on earth does race have to do with size? I wrote this guy off as a lunatic, until I began to think back to my days at the BBW clubs in NYC. More specifically at Goddesses. On any given night, it seemed that

-most of the Black men were giving attention to the big White women

-most of the White men gravitated towards the big Black and/or Latina women

-most the Latin men were more open, spending time with all the women (as long as they could dance).

Every time I was at Goddesses I would notice interracial couplings all over the dance floor. One night I was sitting at the bar with Paige and Reese, when a stunning Italian looking guy with perfect teeth walked in. Paige let out a deep sigh and said “Look at Danny, he’s so HOT… too bad he only dates Black girls.” A few minutes later a gorgeous Black man came into the club. He grabbed a drink and spent the rest of the night cozying up to the biggest woman at the party, who happened to be white.

I’m starting to wonder this is just coincidence, or if a lot of these men will only date Plus Size Princesses of a certain race. More specifically, a race outside of their own.

I have more thoughts but I know race can be a complicated subject, so I’m going to stop here and let you guys chime in.

Are you a White/Black/Latina/Asian PSP who feels like your race has an effect on your dating life? Do you find that men of a certain race hit on you more? When it comes to Plus Size Dating… does race matter?