New research suggests that black ladies give approximately zero fucks about what you think about their weight, and that attempting to shame them won't do any good in encouraging weight loss. But there's some good news, fat shame aficionados— shame still works on overweight white women, if your aim is to make them feel like crap while staying overweight.
The research is to be published in Applied Research in Quality of Life, a a scholarly journal about quality-of-life issues. Researchers asked about 350 women who technically qualify as "obese"— half of them black, half of them white— to complete a questionnaire about their qualities of life. Subjects were asked to self report on their satisfaction in areas like sexual pleasure, work life, physical function, and self esteem.
The study found that black women who are overweight or obese tend to believe that they have a higher quality of life than their white counterparts. This difference was most dramatic in the area of self esteem. Researchers believe that this indicates larger social acceptance of different body types within the black community, and this worries some experts, who note that "in the US, 80% black women over age 20 are either overweight or obese." Since shaming overweight black ladies isn't succeeding in convincing them to lose weight, researchers aren't sure how to proceed in convincing them of the benefits of slimming down.
In short, they're worried that overweight black women don't feel bad enough about themselves.
Dr. Tiffany Cox of the University of Alabama at Birmingham led the study, and said,
The implications of this relationship between weight and quality of life in black women remain unclear. While the highest quality of life is desirable as an indicator of overall well-being, black women's perception of experiencing a high quality of life despite having a high BMI may also dampen motivation for attempting weight loss. Additional research is needed to understand the potentially bidirectional relationship between weight and quality of life in black women.
While weight isn't the sole indicator of health and it's pretty tough to tell by looking at someone if they're healthy, there are health and quality of life issues often associated carrying around too much weight as a result of poor diet or lack of exercise. If black women are indeed more motivated to lose weight by a loss of mobility and not by feeling ashamed of themselves, then efforts to convince women in the black community to adopt healthier diets or increase their amount of physical activity should appeal to women's desire to be mobile rather than their sense that failing to be thin is a reflection of their failure as women. Or, better yet, how about every pro-health push focus on the physical benefits of health rather than the emotional punishment of non-health? Shaming, as much as people relish dishing out, doesn't seem to be working to make anyone healthier.
Being overweight not such a stigma for African American women [Springer]