All Articles Tagged "new york times"
Whatever Steve Harvey touches goes gold. And now his new talk show is considered a “solid win” by NBC, reports the The New York Times.
Since debuting in September, Steve Harvey has been a daytime TV success, averaging a rating of 0.9 among women ages 25 to 54. And, according to the newspaper, the show just keeps attracting more and more viewers.
In February, the show posted a 1.0 rating, tying with Katie Couric’s syndicated talk show for the first time. His show is even already posting a slight profit, according to Endemol. Endemol produces it for NBC, which then sells it to stations across the country.
Harvey still also works on his national morning radio show, the game show Family Feud (which he started hosting in 2010) and various other ventures, such as the hit feature film, Think Like a Man, that made $100 million last year.
“While many of his older fans are, like him, African-American, Mr. Harvey has demonstrated that he has significant crossover appeal” reports the Times.
TV stations seem to love Harvey as well. Harvey’s show costs a lot less to produce than Couric’s does meaning stations pay less to carry it.
Due to his recent crossover success, Harvey was recently dubbed the “next Oprah” by the Hollywood Reporter.
“I won’t be Oprah, but maybe baby Oprah,” Harvey said to the newspaper with a laugh after he’d let his guard down a bit about that scary moniker. “Just call me little O!”
Success isn’t new to Harvey who had the hit TV comedy series, The Steve Harvey Show, which ran from 1996 to 2002.
According to the New York Times, dating is now dead. R.I.P dinner and a movie:
“Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.”
The Times piece then goes on to say that non-committal activities like ‘hanging out,” have replaced actual dates and courtship. According to the article, dodgy economic prospects, which makes it impossible to afford dates; changing economic dynamics between the genders; online dating including texting, emailing and social networking and the rise of the “hookup culture” are to blame for the disappearance of dating. To illustrate the demise, the Times article uses the anecdotal story of a Shani Silver, a young woman from Philadelphia, who was supposed to go on a date with a guy she met on OkCupid, but turned him down when, on the night of the date, he sent her a text message, suggesting that they met up at a local Pub where he was already having drinks with his friends.
“Turned off, she fired back a text message, politely declining. But in retrospect, she might have adjusted her expectations. “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.”
I think that Silver was right to reevaluate her expectations from this “date.” There is no doubt that dating has changed over the time. But so what? Flowers, a classy dinner of poorly seasoned crab legs and cheddar bay biscuits at Red Lobster, the latest action movie you had no desire see but your date really wants to see it so whatever – while traditional of courtship – wasn’t all that fantastic as The New York Times has waxed nostalgic it to be. Personally, I’ve hated dating in the traditional sense of the word. For me, it always felt like being on job interview where the lady with the navy blue suit and a notepad, sits behind the faux-wood finish desk and in her polite, yet almost deceptive tone asks you probing questions like: where do you see yourself in ten years? and describe your strengths and weakness and can you explain this gap in employment?
And then you, in your equally uncomfortable outfit, which you would wear outside of this interview, have to somehow come up with answers that are some version of the truth but also paint you in what you think is a favorable light. I have done that many of times – in both interviews and on dates. The older I get, the more life gets hectic, the harder the hustle gets and I am more filled with “things to do.” This means that my time is extremely valuable. Therefore, when I go out, I’m going out to have a good time – not to determine if a good time is to be had. So yeah, I like having my “friends.”
And that brings me to a larger point about this fear of change, even when the traditional wasn’t necessarily great to begin with. Back in the day, it was socially frowned upon for a woman to date multiple suitors at one time or even have a sexual relationship outside of marriage. Today, women are encouraged not to settle, to sample what’s out there and cultivate relationships around their likes and desires before jumping into a relationship. And that’s not even mentioning the power imbalance, which used to accompany traditional courtship. Do you know how incredibility and advisably unsafe some of the courtship rules of old were? While it may be proper for a man to abide by the old fashion way and pick you up for a date, it certainly isn’t advisable in this day and age. So, in that sense, modern dating has become more empowering and meaningful for women than ever before.
Also there is something to be said for the way in which technology has made our traditional dating rituals more inclusive. While it may seem unlikely for lots of folks to think of finding love and connecting with people behind a the keypads on a computer or smartphone, some people, who might be shy or awkward socially, will often use technology to engage potential partners comfortably in ways they could not physically do publicly. Of course, there is always a chance of running into a few catfishes in the virtual world however it sure beats running into a few turds in real life.
From the New York Times:
“The credit score, once a little-known metric derived from a complex formula that incorporates outstanding debt and payment histories, has become an increasingly important number used to bestow credit, determine housing and even distinguish between job candidates.
It’s so widely used that it has also become a bigger factor in dating decisions, sometimes eclipsing more traditional priorities like a good job, shared interests and physical chemistry. That’s according to interviews with more than 50 daters across the country, all under the age of 40.”
According to the article, a number of enterprising websites have sprouted out, catering to this growing interest in credit background checking of potential partners. A couple such sites, Creditscoredating.com and Datemycreditscore.com, allow its members to exchange and view credit scores of potential dates. The article also included an interesting anecdotal story about a flight attendant named Jessica Lashawn, whose dream guy fizzled before her eyes after Mr. Rico Sauve broached the credit question on their first date.
“It was as if the music stopped,” Ms. LaShawn, 31, said, recalling how the date this year went so wrong so quickly after she tried to answer his question honestly. “It was really awkward because he kept telling me that I was the perfect girl for him, but that a low credit score was his deal-breaker.”
I don’t know how the rest of you feel but that just seems like an abitrary reason to dismiss your “perfect girl” on the first date. I mean, at the very least, advise her on some credit counseling and see how that pans out before writing her off. But everyone has their own standards. And quite honestly adding, “what’s your credit score” to the list of questions we already use to gauge the worthiness of a potential partner is not a bad idea.
The credit rating of a potential partner could have determining impacts on what kind of dates you have, who pays and even transportation to and from your date. And if the relationship gets more serious, his or her bad credit could impact more important financial decisions such as the ability to buy a house. Likewise, credit can also be a indictator of how sound a decision maker a person is outside of the financial realm. For instance, a guy with pretty decent credit might be a sign that he is responsible and honest person in love. However, a guy with a couple of liens and delinquent marks on his credit report, could suggest that he might not be a little flippant with not only his wallet but with your heart too. It might sound like pseudo-science but more and more employers are turning to the credit scores of job candidates to help determine good hirees.
Some folks may have fallen on hard times due to lost of job or even a personal or family sickness. Some folks may have not been so fiscally wise in their younger years but might be working to clean up their credit. And some folks just have more student loan debt than actual income. While I don’t see anything wrong with asking a potential partner about their overall financial solvency, I think it might be a dangerously short-sighted to rely solely on someone’s score, especially based on a metric you had no hand in creating.
But what do you guys think? Should our FICO score be the new “What’s your digits?”
The blackosphere has been pining over the choice of Zoe Saldana for a movie based on the life of Nina Simone for some time now, but the New York Times is attempting to get to the bottom of all the backlash — and the casting choice — in a new report.
The article notes that the angst over the placement of a lighter-skinned Afro-latina woman who doesn’t sing in a film about the life of a dark-skinned jazz artist from the south isn’t limited to mere discussions over the Internet. A petition has been started to replace Zoe with an actress who actually looks like Nina. Cynthia Mort, the writer and director of the film, isn’t looking to oblige. As the Times reports:
According to Ms. Mort, who is white, the film was not intended to be a biography in the strict sense, but instead “a love story about an artist’s journey unto herself,” she said.
“There’s a difference,” she added, “between telling a story that includes and involves emotion and experiences and doing a biopic — she was born here, she did this, she did that. That is also a great story, but that’s not what we’re telling in that kind of linear fashion.”
Ms. Mort said that she was still in the process of confirming whether Ms. Saldana would play Simone. David Oyelowo will play Simone’s companion and love interest, a composite character based on Simone’s manager and caretaker, Clifton Henderson.
The singer Mary J. Blige was first cast to play Simone until she had to bow out for what Ms. Mort described as “scheduling issues,” though Ms. Blige said publicly she had spent years preparing for the role. The rumors of Ms. Saldana’s casting prompted Simone’s daughter, Simone Kelly, to write a note to her mother’s fans on the official Nina Simone Facebook page. Ms. Kelly, who was born Lisa Celeste Stroud, said that the project was unauthorized, and that Simone’s estate had not been asked permission or been asked to participate in the film.
“My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark,” Ms. Kelly said in an interview. “Appearance-wise this is not the best choice,” she added, referring to Ms. Saldana.
Ms. Kelly, who described herself as a fan of Ms. Saldana’s work, said she would have preferred to see actresses like Viola Davis or Kimberly Elise. She added that her mother’s own choice to play her was Whoopi Goldberg.
Ms. Kelly also took issue with the creative license taken by Ms. Mort’s script, particularly the story line that Simone had a romantic relationship with Mr. Henderson. In the Facebook post Ms. Kelly wrote: “Clifton Henderson was gay. He was not attracted to women. So, the truth is … Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson NEVER had a relationship other than a business one.”
Ms. Mort described Mr. Henderson’s character as “a composite of many different loves and aspects of love in Nina’s life.”
It appears Ms. Mort is taking a number of creative licenses with the making of “Nina,” none of which scholar yaba Blay approves of. She told the Times:
“The power of her aesthetics was part of [Nina Simone's] power. This was a woman who prevailed and triumphed despite her aesthetic.” Dark-skinned actresses are “already erased from the media, especially in the role of the ‘it girl’ or the love interest.”
What do you think about the director’s explanation for Zoe Saldana’s casting?
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This hasn’t been Olympic Hurdler Lolo Jones’ week and ironically it has less to do with her not bringing home a medal after placing fourth in her 100-meter race last night, and more to do with what happens when the pretty girl doesn’t live up to the pedestal society placed her on simply because of her looks.
Let me explain that a bit. Lolo is a stellar athlete. The 30-year-old’s sheer participation in this year’s games tells you that, as do the Indoor world champion medals and records she holds. Is she the best hurdler on the American team? I’m not qualified to judge that, but I do know she’s received more mainstream attention than any other woman on the American track team. New York Times writer Jere Longman would say that’s because of a carefully calculated effort on Lolo and her PR team’s part. I think American bias plays a bigger role in that coverage than the columnist acknowledges.
In his piece, “For Lolo Jones, Everything Is Image,” the author wrote:
“Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — vixen, virgin, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses.”
“Women have struggled for decades to be appreciated as athletes. For the first time at these Games, every competing nation has sent a female participant. But Jones is not assured enough with her hurdling or her compelling story of perseverance. So she has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal. And, too often, the news media have played right along with her.”
If you recall, Lolo has spoken quite openly about her virginity over the years—a choice I mentioned before I didn’t think was wise because it invites the very type of backlash exhibited here. Longman wasn’t writing this piece as an op-ed on sexism in sports coverage, he wrote it because he was disappointed that he expected Lolo to lose her race yesterday, which she did. For him, that confirmed his assumption that she thinks she’s too swexy for her sports bra. I say that because he opened the article with, “judging from this year’s performances, Lolo Jones seems to have only a slim chance of winning an Olympic medal in the 100-meter hurdles and almost no possibility of winning gold.” He then outlines the so-called scandalous endeavors she’s been involved in off the track, like posing nude for ESPN and being nearly naked on the cover of Outside magazine, then follows it up with, “If there is a box to check off, Jones has checked it. Except for the small part about actually achieving Olympic success as a hurdler.”
The crux of Longman’s article is Lolo had no right to make us interested in her if she wasn’t going to deliver the goods, better yet the gold. I think this backlash is proof of one simple thing: when you’re hot (because of your looks and your skill) everyone loves you, and when you’re not, the praise and the recognition fades as though it was never there. Longman would have no problem with Lolo’s image if she actually won. Yet his argument still isn’t that Lolo should have spent more time training than taking pics and that’s because he can’t argue that. Lolo did train—for four years—to participate in the Olympics this year. Unfortunately, that still hasn’t stopped the athlete from being called the Anna Kournikova of track, a slight that brought the hurdler to tears on the “Today Show” as she relayed her feelings on the backlash, saying:
“I think it was crazy just because it was two days before I competed, and then the fact that it was from a U.S. media…They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds. I just thought that that was crazy because I worked six days a week, every day, for four years for a 12-second race and the fact that they just tore me apart, which is heartbreaking.”
“I have the American record. I am the American record holder indoors, I have two world indoor titles. Just because I don’t boast about these things, I don’t think I should be ripped apart by media. I laid it out there, fought hard for my country and it’s just a shame that I have to deal with so much backlash when I’m already so brokenhearted as it is.”
I’m a woman who used to wear her busyness like a badge. It was as if I earned a couple of “she’s-a-productive-member-of-society” points every time I tapped into my smartphone as I walked down the street (See, I even work when I walk!), informed friends that I’d pencil them in for happy hour dates (Because I’m so busy, I need a calendar to have cocktails and calamari), or showed a co-worker my written to-do list at the first sign that they wanted my help with a new project (See all of this? It needs to be finished today. I’ll remind you of such when I’m eating a cheese sandwich at my desk this afternoon and then tomorrow when I inform you that I didn’t see sunlight since, you know, I came in early and left after the cleaning crew did.)
It’s in the latter situation that I hated being asked this question: “Are you busy?” For co-workers, it’s an icebreaker. A means to ask for help with a project, and I’m often glad to offer my assistance. So glad in fact, that I’ll overschedule and overwork myself to do it. But for you to ask me if I’m busy? How dare you? Who am I if I’m not busy? Of course I’m needed every second of the day and to remind you of such, I’ll tweet at 4:00 a.m. how hard I’m grinding while the rest of you sleep.
I’m busy and that means something, right?
Not so, says writer Tim Kreider, whose recent piece for the New York Times’ Opinionator blog questioned the concept of “the busy trap.” “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day,” Kreider writes, smacking at what I think this busy trap and the “they sleep, we grind” method of ladder climbing is really about: Our busyness is a manifestation of our fears that we human beings are not enough if we are not bustling, productive doers. Being busy, it seems, is not a function of productivity and dream chasing, but of stroking our egos.
This “busy” dialogue comes on the heels of Anne Marie Slaughter’s essay for The Atlantic on whether working women can have it all, reigniting an age-old conversation about work/life balance for professionals with families and the guilt that comes with choosing one side over the other. That article and the firestorm it created tapped into a bigger discussion for working people at large: the nature of the American work culture. Because men can’t have it all, either, nor can young, single professionals or individuals whose jobs and meager paychecks make the concept of having it all a class consideration. Having what all? As Hanna Rosin notes in her essay for Slate, “None of us can have it all.”
I’ll save my feminist musings, and I (single and childless) won’t begin to suggest how parents who double as professionals can make it all work. But as a young nine-to-fiver who has a side hustle and dreams and 10,000 hours to log and 20 pounds to lose, working hard is a necessity.
But so is time to breathe. Kreider writes:
The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it as whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration. It is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
We often ascribe the concept of “discipline” solely to the idea of work. But we need to be disciplined about living full, mentally and physically healthy lives— working when it’s time to work (I’m now a purveyor of the “work smarter, not harder” concept of dream chasing and corporate life), resting when it is time to rest, and playing when it is time to play.
When my social life began to unravel, when I had aches in my muscles and was sicker than ever, I knew that my sun-up to sun-down days of getting cheese sandwich crumbs caught in my keyboard had to stop. Sometimes, it’s as simple as stepping away from the computer and walking outside for 15 minutes. Sometimes, it’s hopping on an airplane and disconnecting from social media for a weekend, unplugging as a means to recharge and live in the moment. Sometimes, it’s lying in bed and watching the blades on my ceiling fan rotate.
The discipline of living a full life is also about absolving the guilt we feel for doing so. (This is where I insert the oft-told adage of no one on her deathbed has ever wished she’d worked harder.)
Who am I if I’m not doing? I’m loving, I’m breathing, I’m living, I’m watching the blades on my ceiling fan spin and not feeling bad about it. I’m realizing that I am more than what I do. Sometimes being is enough.
And, seriously, get off Twitter. It’s 4:00 a.m. Go to sleep.
Readers, do you find yourselves caught in a busy trap? In which ways do you lead full, well-rounded lives?
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If you haven’t seen it yet, which I’m pretty sure you have because it has been featured on every black blog and online publication, The New York Times recently ran an editorial, along with a short video, about the black women who are transitioning to natural beauty.
Zina Saro-Wiwa, a Nigerian, by way of the UK, documentary filmmaker and video artist, began documenting the American black women natural hair movement after her own transition from chemical straightening to a short bush left her both enamored and questioning her own insecurities about how she really felt about her own hair. In the video, she speaks to a number of black women about their natural hair and inquires about what inspired them to take the journey.
While I loved both the post and the video, (seriously, it is very well done), I kind of raised an eyebrow at the assertion made both in the video and the post that folks shy away from the “black power” reference associated with black hair. Nor do they view their hair as a political statement. More specifically;
“As Anu Prestonia, the owner of Khamit Kinks, a natural hair salon in Brooklyn, told me, “There’s been an evolutionary process that has turned into a revolution.” It is not an angry movement. Women aren’t saying their motivation is to combat Eurocentric ideals of beauty. Rather, this is a movement characterized by self-discovery and health. “
No doubt that some women do resist the implication that their natural hair has dual meaning. I have heard many times from women with natural hair reject flat out and inclination that they are revolutionary because of their chosen hairstyle. In the past, I might have agreed with them. In the past, I had agreed with them and wrote about the often problematic social undertones that exist with being “natural.” However I have come to learn that even if we do or do not accept our place in the movement, natural hair is indeed political.
How so? Well consider the story of 13-year old Brea Persley of Inglewood California. One day in class, her teacher at the Century Academy for Excellence got so frustrated with her that she allegedly told her to “sit her nappy-headed self down.” This statement may sound funny, and possibly benign to some, however the term “nappy-headed” historically has always had a negative connation used to belittle or disregard a person of African descent. And when those remarks were made in front of the entire class, this little girl felt humiliated. “When the kids started laughing, it brought back the memories of when I was in 4th grade and kids used to laugh at me and tease me,” said Persley said.
As a whole, the black experience in America is politicized, which was recently demonstrated by researchers from Brown University, who discovered that race, for both black and white voters, has more to do with their shifting support for President Obama than actual policy. Meaning that if President Obama, the first black (or biracial as some insist on calling him) president, supports gay marriage then black folks, who previously might have denounced gay marriage, shift their positions to align with the President while race conscious whites shift their position to be in opposition of the President. Of course, the suggestion here is that it is not the issue of gay marriage itself, but the issue of being for or against the black president.
When the first generation of African slaves landed in America, the ability to maintain their elaborate and often spiritual hairstyles was robbed from them along with their freedom. Their kinks were deemed unruly and ugly and eventually became a source of shame. Not much has changed since then; as today, the kinks and the 4B types are still considered a less desirable hair texture than bone straight hair. This is confirmed for us daily as we flip through the pages of magazines, both mainstream and black, and see women of African descent with long weaves and silky perms. And it’s there again when we hear stories about black women being barred from planes or employment opportunities because of their natural coils.
As the always poignant comedian Paul Mooney once said, “If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed. If your hair is nappy, then they’re not happy.” The age-old efforts to subjugate us by devaluing our beauty, including our hair, have always been a political tactic to establish more European features, including long silky straight hair, as both mainstream and the status quo. Therefore the more you try to a heed to the mainstream image, the more you align and condone politically and socially the status quo. Each time one of us takes the plunge and cast off the shackles of shame, which suggest that our hair and beauty is inferior, the more we strike a blow to those political forces. And as more and more resist the notion that straight hair is the only type of hair to be considered both beautiful and professional, the more we shift the collective conscious of all folks to make mainstream more reflective and inclusive of you. That’s the essence of any great political movement – whether it is for civil rights or uncivilized hair.
This is not to discount women, who want to straighten their hair or wear weaves. I still hold on to the contention that there is nothing wrong, or less black, with that. But this is largely about the message of those, who don’t, those women who never felt comfortable frying, dying and extending. Those women, who wanted to be free enough to go out into public with some knotty dreads or a teeny weenie afro without being labeled as uncouth, unkempt or some other derogatory term. Those, who were and still are routinely excluded from some certain workplaces and social circles. These folks, who in the past, may not have been able to choose the option of natural styles like Bantu Knots, twists and yes even dreadlocks.
The more that black women embrace the natural hair movement, if only temporary, the more women who felt boxed in to abiding by societal standards just in order to get along, can feel free. Within this movement, they are free to choose natural and have comfort in knowing that there are legions of others like them. It’s about the freedom of choice to come out of the proverbial hair closet and say to the world that I am here. I am nappy. Get used to it.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
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I made many mistakes during my dating years: pining after emotionally unavailable men, hanging around men I didn’t like just because they liked me, ruling out potential dates for superficial reasons, the list goes on.
But now, several months on the other side of married life, I believe there is one great decision I made while dating – deciding not to live with my husband before we got married.
Though at times it seemed financially impractical, living together was never a consideration for us. We agreed that we wanted to date while we were dating and be married when we got married.
This put us in a different mindset from many cohabitating couples we know who have been dating for years. Of course, there is no universal timetable for relationships because every couple moves at its own pace. In addition, some couples don’t want to ever get married. Just as men aren’t interested in buying a cow when they’re getting the milk for free, women have decided they don’t want to marry a pig when all they want is the sausage. However, I’ve observed women who want to marry their boyfriends yesterday, but have settled for playing house while waiting not-so-patiently for him to pop the question.
As a result, I advise any woman who is interested in getting married in a timely fashion to think twice before cohabitating.
I’m not saying there aren’t people who move in together, get engaged soon after, get married and live happily ever after, but it seems a mutually good experience is not the common outcome for cohabitating couples.
There are countless examples of cohabitation gone bad, yet every woman seems to think she will be different only to end up nodding her head just the same in recognition of Gabrielle Union’s character in the popular movie, Think Like A Man. Homegirl was living with her boyfriend for nine years without any semblance of commitment. That would have been funny, if not so sadly common.
The New York Times recently reported: chances are pretty good that a woman desiring to get married will find moving in together just postpones marriage indefinitely, results in a less satisfied marriage and/or increases the likelihood of divorce. The Times found that cohabitating couples are more likely to have kids than get married.
So, why do people continue to support this failed relationship model?
The most ridiculous of arguments is that people are using “cohabitation as a way to ‘test drive’ a marriage.” For one, a marriage is not a car. And even if it were a car, the “test drive” would be dating not cohabitating. No car company would allow you to take their car home, drive it all over town for years, eating and spilling in it, getting into fender benders, and generally treating the car like it is yours to keep. That is what kind of “test drive” you’re engaging in when you compare it to cohabitating.
Further, there is no way to test a marriage without actually being married.
Sure, it’s important to get to know the person you want to marry, but you can know enough about someone you’re dating without living with him. For instance, if he insists on moving in with you right away, you know he lacks patience. (Just kidding…sort of.) Thinking of my own marriage, there are things that make my husband and I different that we didn’t know until we got married, but those things aren’t dealbreakers and would not have been worth finding out beforehand.
The progression in our relationship and the clear distinction of our married life from our dating life is much more exciting and valuable than knowing beforehand if we fold towels the same.
Besides, when does a “test drive” morph into a “committed drive”? If you’re still claiming to be test-driving your marriage years after moving in together then you’re kidding yourself. Someone in that relationship is being led like a clueless horse with a carrot dangling in front of it, biding their time until they realize it’s being wasted.
If you want to be married, then you deserve to be with someone who wants to marry you. Why settle for someone who wants to drag you through a grueling, multi-year audition only to possibly decide that you’re not right for the part? You deserve someone who isn’t wanting to play pretend by living together because he would much rather have you for real in a marriage.
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Over the weekend Alice Randall wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times on black women and fat, simply titled just that. If you haven’t noticed, articles on this topic are becoming about as abundant as ones on black women being single and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Anyway, Randall plainly states that “many black women are fat because we want to be” and goes on to rehash the oft-expressed notion of black women preferring to have a little more meat on their bones as evidenced through her personal experience of praying for fat thighs as a little girl and knowing many men, her husband included, who have a panic attack the minute their woman drops below 200 pounds.
It’s evident right from the beginning that Randall is not aware of the difference of having rounder hips or a bigger backside and actually being fat, overweight, obese, or in any other physically plump state as a black women that has caught headlines recently, but that’s a far more frustratingly minor point in the overgeneralized and exaggerated prose.
Beyond the aesthetic appeal of a fuller body, Randall says African American women subscribe to being fat, black, and happy as some form of political statement. Quoting Andrea Elizabeth Shaw’s book, The Embodiment of Disobedience: Fat Black Women’s Unruly Political Bodies, Randall too argues that the fat black woman’s body “functions as a site of resistance to both gendered and racialized oppression.” She writes:
“By contextualizing fatness within the African diaspora, she invites us to notice that the fat black woman can be a rounded opposite of the fit black slave, that the fatness of black women has often functioned as both explicit political statement and active political resistance.”
As a heavier black woman who just dropped 22 pounds and has several more to go I can tell you, it ain’t that deep. But if it was, then why do we feel the need to defend it?
Every time another study comes out about obesity in America or black women’s happiness being heavy, a slew of articles come out explaining why we’re bigger than white women and why we’re okay with that. It seems to me if we were really okay with it, there’d be no need to explain anything. I get that sometimes some of these studies feel like yet another attack on black women and we want to let “them” know we’re not falling for it, but the truth is we all know that when researchers point out the alarming rates of black women who are overweight, obese, or morbidly obese we know good and well they’re not talking about having a little something extra in all the “right” places, they’re talking about significant pounds that become a health concern and defense against that is not easily justifiable—particularly if the case for a heavier body is to please black men that I thought didn’t want black women anyway. Do we not realize how ridiculous it sounds to say black women are okay putting themselves at risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and a zillion other illnesses to have a black man dish out a heavy dose of street harassment that we’re probably going to begrudgingly be subjected to in the first place? The thing is we’re not doing ourselves any favors by offering up this overgeneralized reasoning to the masses, especially because I’m more inclined to think black women are heavier not just “because they want to be” but because most of us haven’t had positive eating and exercise examples as a child.
The most frustrating part about Randall’s article is that after explaining why women want to be fat she moves into “WE need to change” and puts less than half the effort into encouraging women to actually get under 200 pounds or lose “the 10 percent of our body weight that often results in a 50 percent reduction in diabetes risk” than she did outlining all the reasons they “happily” got there in the first place. I’m thrilled at the confidence black women can display at any size and I don’t think we need to explain it as if it’s a state of mind we shouldn’t have. The more we attempt the justify it, the less secure with it we actually seem, and though that’s not such a bad thing either, we’re sending conflicting messages that don’t serve any positive purpose. As I’ve said before, not hating yourself because you’re not a size 2 and not caring about carrying extra weight are hardly the same thing but when articles like this come about it just adds to the stereotype that all black women are overweight and that we’re all intentionally overweight for cultural reasons. That line of thinking doesn’t make us sound much better than white women starving themselves to be thin to conform to their own beauty ideals. Let’s stop substituting one stereotype for another to justify something we say we’re okay with and start focusing on the real issue and the real problem: our physical health.
Do you think most black women are overweight because they really want to be?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Moviegoers live for New York Times movie critiques. The prestigious paper’s reviews hold about as much weight as a review by Roger Ebert, and just by looking at what movie was reviewed and who critiqued it, the public at large gauges whether a movie is worth seeing at the theaters, is an “I’ll rent it from Redbox when it comes out” release, or a film not worth seeing at all.
That being said, it’s a little curious that none of the newspaper’s three major movie critics reviewed “Think Like a Man” in their weekly movie review roundups published yesterday. Yes, A.O. Scott, Manohla Dargis, and Stephen Holden were working Thursday because they had time to pen reviews of other films coming out this weekend like “The Lucky One” and “Goodbye First Love”, but instead of showing some love to TLAM, the task was passed on to another lesser-known reviewer, Rachel Saltz, and the review isn’t given much real estate on the website either.
I’m not attempting to race bait this review or even question Rachel’s credibility as a reviewer but I think the choice (which is what it was) not to highlight this film over others answers the question many have been asking about TLAM, which is whether it has crossover appeal. I’m going to assume that if three notable NYT critics didn’t take the time to watch the movie neither will most non-black moviegoers. And while we might think, who cares? We all know that the goal of most filmmakers behind movies with nearly an all-black cast is to also rake in dollars from people who don’t just look like the ones in the film. After all, we are just a small percentage of the population. Filmmakers also want their characters to transcend race. In this movie, for example, the dating woes the actors are displaying are universal, and if it weren’t for that pesky thing called skin color, the public might see it that way.
The other issue that makes this slight curious is that “Think Like a Man” is expected by many to come in at number one at the box office this weekend, considering “The Lucky One” is it’s only main competitor besides “The Hunger Games” which has been out for some time. (“Goodbye First Love” is only showing in Manhattan.) Again, that being said, why wouldn’t one of the publication’s major critics review a film with that much hype—and speak on whether it lives up to it. Audience research numbers show the film scored some of the highest testing numbers ever recorded. In Inglewood, CA, which is predominantly black, audiences gave the movie a 95 percent approval rating. In the racially diverse area of Long Beach, the film garnered 99 percent approval, which would make one think it wouldn’t just be black folks running to see the film this weekend.
Last week, Vulture did an extensive review of “Think Like a Man” and the very issue the New York Times slight highlights. Claude Brodesser-Akner writes “Hollywood has great difficulty marketing ‘female movies’ to men, let alone ‘urban movies’ to white audiences — which is why everyone in Hollywood is simultaneously confounded and astonished by the forthcoming ‘Think Like a Man.’” He then poses an interesting question based on the fact that as of late last week, only slightly more than one in three white moviegoers (37 percent) were aware of the film, and only one in four (23 percent) expressed “definite interest:”
“How do you get white audiences to see a film that they are mostly unaware of but that audience research shows they actually love once they see it? The key words being ‘once they see it.’”
Claude points out that studios are known to slight marketing for black films which doesn’t give the movie a fair shot at topping the box office but I have to say the “Think Like a Man” cast has been hitting the media circuit pretty hard, although as far as Internet advertising goes, I have only seen promos on black blogs. I’m going to take Claude’s point one step further and say the New York Times omission of “Think Line a Man” in its weekly review—and likely other “black films” of cinema’s past also adds to this issue of movies like this being overlooked by white audiences. A critique is nothing more than free promotion and NYT decided not to give TLAM much. The question is does the blame fall on the studio for not making the film appealing enough for the major critics to consider or was this decision made because of the very fact that the reviewers didn’t think it would appeal to “their” audiences?
What do you think about the fact that NYT‘s main critics didn’t review this film? Does it speak to it’s lack of crossover appeal or is it deeper than that?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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