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Study finds experiences of racism associated with weight gain in African American women

Study finds experiences of racism associated with weight gain in African American women

A recent analysis conducted by investigators from the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University has found that frequent experiences of racism were associated with a higher risk of obesity among African American women. The findings, which currently appear online in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found the relationship between racism and obesity was strongest among women who reported consistently high experiences of racism over a 12-year period. The research was based on data from the Black Women’s Health Study, a longitudinal study that enrolled 59,000 African-American women in 1995 and has followed them continually.


Black Woman’s Health Study Website

Let’s Talk About Our Uteri

Black Women’s Health: How To Talk About Reproductive Health | The Chicago Defender

Despite the grammatical errors. this young lady is speaking from the heart. We need more young women like her to spread this important message.

With all the conversation that you’re having with your girlfriends, who’s having the conversation about your health?There are countless blogs about Black women’s hair–what’s your curl pattern? What protective styles can you wear? How often should you wash? Is co-washing better? The natural hair conversation has taken off to dimensions my unborn grandchild will only understand.

We talk about the latest diet trend, but why aren’t we talking about how our diets will keep us from growing grapefruit sized fibroids? How often do you check in with your girlfriend’s routine breast exams? Have you ever discussed getting a pelvic ultrasound over brunch? Are you talking to your girlfriends about how often you and your boo get checked for STD’s or if they’ve ever contracted an STI or STD? What about the steps they took to get rid of it?

Read more at Black Women’s Health: How To Talk About Reproductive Health | The Chicago Defender.

Is ‘Strong Black Womanhood’ Killing Our Sisters?

Historically, suicide rates in the Black community were lower than Whites and other ethnic groups however, recent research has identified an increase in rates due to the tendency of the community to explain a suicide as an accidental death and/or even the result of homicide.

Researchers have also highlighted suicide risk and protective factors for Black women. Common risks include unresolved childhood abuse and resulting trauma reactions, relationship with an abusive partner; experiences with racism and managing the chronicity of daily hassles, while connection to family, friends, and community, as well as the ability to ask for help and resources when needed were deemed protective factors. Effective treatment for depressed Black women focuses on increasing hopefulness and self-esteem through interpersonal connections. Does all this mean the key to treating Black women’s depression is to remove our SBW armor and allow ourselves to be more vulnerable?

Read More at EBONY.

To Trim Down, Spelman Trades Sports For Fitness


For the past decade, Spelman College, a historically black women’s school in Atlanta, has fielded NCAA teams in basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball and other sports. But when its small Division III conference started dwindling, college President Beverly Tatum says the school decided it was time to change focus.

“We have to ask ourselves: What is the cost of the program and who is benefiting? How many people are benefiting? Is the benefit worth the cost?” Tatum asks.

So the school decided to drop its NCAA athletics program, which will save about $1 million a year, school officials say.

via To Trim Down, Spelman Trades Sports For Fitness | WBUR & NPR.

Digging at the roots while going for gold: Gabby Douglas’ hair

This is a great piece on the politics of black hair by Dr. Neal Lester. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. I have been natural for years because I live in town were hair dressers are stuck in the 1950’s. My hair dropped out because the small town hair dressers used a ridiculously strong perm on my hair over 10 years ago. The older member of my upper middle class family squawk about my hair every time they see me offer to get it breaded (which I gladly accept) or to perm it, which I flatly reject. When it was I child I begged to wear afro puffs and finally got permission in 7th grade. even when I finally got was allowed to get a perm in high school I would let out grow out because Ultra Sheen scalp burns we no joke and I want to look like Chaka Khan, which disturbed my mother to no end. I reallt hope that the current natural hair movement doesn’t go the way of my afro puffs and women can wear their hair anyway they want without criticism within and outside the black community.

African American women slaves covered their hair with bandannas or used axle grease, greasy dishwater, or lye to temporarily straighten their curly hair. An 1894 minstrel song by African American Gussie Davis, “When They Straighten All the Colored People’s Hair,” proclaimed that heaven would be the place where straight hair, even for black folks, would prevail. Some sources allege that slave women felt ashamed of their non-straight, non-flowing hair when compared with the mistresses’ or the little white children’s they were grooming. In the 1960s, some black women embraced the Afro as a symbol of political resistance and saw activist Angela Davis and Davis’ bold Afro as the embodiment of black power. Davis later lamented her disappointment that her politics had been reduced to a hairstyle, a hairstyle that in the 1980s and 1990s became a fad among black youngsters who saw the Afro and the Afro pick as more fashion than political statement.Continue Reading.

The Polar Bears Of Martha’s Vineyard Offer Insights On Aging Gracefully And Having Fun While Doing It

Life is short and summers on Martha’s Vineyard are even shorter. But a group of African-American men and women called the “Polar Bears” are finding ways to prolong both. In fact, they’ve been doing so for more than fifty years.

The Polar Bears’ morning prayer and swimming sessions in the frigid waters of Inkwell Beach are a case study on how the Vineyard’s historic African-American summer traditions are being carried on. And for Temple University sociologist Donna-Marie Peters, they offer insights on how women of color age and what we can learn from them on how to do it well.
Read more.

What Tami Said: Fat black women feel too good about themselves

We have a racial misogyny BINGO for you today. Fat black women feel too good about themselves.

The Huff Post quotes a study that states that hefty black women with high self esteem have serious issues. They are too crazy to loose weight. The comments on how disgusting black women are compared to white women are numerous. Poor black women live in communities bereft of healthy food alternatives. Black women are expected to care more for others than themselves. Black female obesity is also correlated with histories of depression & sexual abuse. Instead of investgating these confounding factors, it is so much easier to label black women as defective.

Cynthia Church, A Warrior in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Cynthia Church, 63, a retired DuPont Co. computer analyst, launched Sisters on A Mission in 1995 after being diagnosed with her first of two bouts with breast cancer. She had noticed a lack of information and resources specific to black women and made it a “personal mission” to raise awareness.

Today, she and members of her organization give presentations at churches, community organizations and health fairs. They also hold workshops and support groups for breast cancer survivors and those struggling with the disease.

Church inspires others to volunteer through her own work, said Darlene Shorter, Sisters on a Mission president. Shorter met Church six years ago, following Shorter’s cancer diagnosis. The two spoke daily during Shorter’s treatment and Church answered questions about insurance and helped with her three children.
Florence Burton remembers the first time Cynthia Church approached her about joining a breast cancer support group for black women.

“I didn’t think I needed a support group,” said Burton, 68, of Wilmington. “Because I didn’t need to be sitting around whining and saying, ‘Oh, my name is Florence. I have cancer.’ ”

But Church, a two-time cancer survivor, flipped Burton’s excuse around. You might not need a support group, Church told Burton, but someone in the group might need you.

More than 10 years later, Burton not only is an active member but the group’s chaplain. And Church’s persistence has built a modest support group into Sisters on a Mission, a 200-member organization dedicated to educating black women about breast cancer.

Her efforts were recognized Wednesday when President Barack Obama awarded her and 12 others the 2010 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor.

She was selected from 6,000 nominees for “exemplary deeds of service for her country and fellow citizens.”

“It means that all the years that the grass-roots organization has been going into the community, raising awareness about breast cancer, have not gone unnoticed,” Church said in an interview. “I think it’s a great honor that something like this is happening.”

By NICOLE GAUDIANO and WADE MALCOLM • The News Journal • August 5, 2010

New study on body image among black women

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | 5:27 p.m. CDT; updated 10:34 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 27, 2010
BY Theresa Berens

COLUMBIA, MO. — Rashanta Bledman grew up in South Central Los Angeles, a mostly black and Latino neighborhood, where curves were prized. When she moved to a largely white college in Orange County, CA., she noticed she didn’t look like everyone else. Thinness was considered more important than shape, she discovered. Bledman had conversations about this with her friends, particularly her black, female friends.

“We didn’t want to be really thin, but we didn’t want to be heavy,” she said. “We wanted to have a small waist, but at the same time have curves.” Despite this, Bledman said she believed that the topic was not something that was discussed in the open — instead limited to small circles of friends.Today, talking about body image is part of Bledman’s academic work. Her studies have explored how black women feel about their bodies, because existing research had indicated a mixture of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the way they look.

Earlier this summer, her research won a graduate student award from the American Psychological Association’s. Bledman surveyed 79 black women, mostly MU students to find out how satisfied they were with their bodies. Using a set of images, she asked them to select their actual body shape and their ideal.Most participants said generally, they were satisfied with their bodies, but given the chance to change something, they would.“Many of the women said that they would have a smaller waist, a flatter stomach and a bigger butt,” Bledman said. “That’s a hard shape to really maintain, unless you’re, like, Kim Kardashian.”

Although she said her research cannot be generalized to the entire African-American population, she said she hopes her research will validate women’s experiences and let them know other women feel the same way. “There’s a societal idea that you should be thin, or you should look a certain way, and sometimes you can’t look that way,” she said. “It’s really hard for an African-American woman to look like a thin white woman.”

Columbia native Renella Ballinger, 45, identifies with Bledman’s findings. She said she is pretty satisfied with her figure but sometimes struggles to keep weight off. “I’ve always been naturally thinner,” Ballinger said. “The weight that I’ve gained has mainly come with age. I’m not really dissatisfied; it’s just hard to maintain without being active.”
“They call us thick,” she said. “We’re built that way.” Ballinger’s sister, Twanda Thomas, 41, agreed with the findings.
She said her concerns about weight have less to do with body image and more to do with health.
“I think we get more worried about (weight) because of diabetes and hypertension,” Thomas said

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