Do Black Women Really Want to Be Fat?

Hawaiian woman

Are 4 out of 5 black women obese simply because they want to be? According to an opinion piece by novelist Alice Randall that recently appeared in the New York Times, the answer is yes. Randall says that in addition to fatty foods and poor eating habits, the music and poetry in black culture lionizes a larger body type, which can lead to obesity. She recounts tales of black women with black husbands who worry about their wives dieting and losing their voluptuous shape. Randall even discloses that her own mate is one such man. Nonetheless, she ends by vowing to buck the trends and become the “last fat black woman in my family.” She also calls upon every black woman to commit to getting under 200 lbs.

While I certainly wish Randall luck in her quest and fully understand how difficult it is to lose weight, it is important to put her characterizations and generalizations about black women and obesity in a context larger than her own personal health journey. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one-third of all Americans are currently obese, and another third are seriously overweight. This phenomenon cuts across race, class and gender. Obesity is not just an issue for black women, nor is it only found in black culture.

For black women, poverty, as well as lack of education, can often predict obesity risks. For example, CDC research shows that among all women, the prevalence of obesity grows higher as income decreases. This is particularly true for black and Latino women. As a result, it’s clear that obesity is a symptom of an ill greater than itself. This is a point that Randall seems to miss. However, the same isn’t true with men, whose weight tends to increase with rises in income.

The same basic phenomenon holds true with education levels. Among men, there is no significant relationship between education and obesity, while the less education a woman is the more likely she is to be obese. This is true for white, black and Latino women. In other words, for black women, even more so than black men, social factors influence obesity rates. Saying that high numbers of black women are fat simply because they want to be doesn’t do justice to this complex issue, nor does limiting the definition of black culture to music and poetry. The culture of a neighborhood can be just as — if not more — meaningful than anything else.

By way of an example, last year, my husband and I moved from the decidedly upper-middle class, Princeton, N.J., to a lower-income area in the South Bronx. When we lived in Princeton, we were a five-minute drive and a 15-minute walk from a number of gyms and roughly the same distance from supermarkets and health-food stores. While walking or driving to work, the supermarket or the gym, we would often see residents out walking, jogging or riding bikes. We had the time, access and opportunity to make exercise and healthy eating a consistent part of our lives.

Compare this with the area of the Bronx where we currently live. There are no gyms. And even though there is a supermarket up the street, much of the food readily available there is highly processed. We rarely see anyone out jogging, and the most accessible form of exercise is hiking up the stairs from the subway. As a result, I know firsthand the difference income and neighborhoods make in trying to stay at a healthy weight.

That said, three years ago, my niece Deborah made a commitment to lose 180 lbs. Mostly, she did it for health reasons. In our family, many of the women are overweight and some have begun to suffer health consequences. Deborah decided she wanted something different for herself, and this past month she reached her goal. In the process, she shrank from a size 28 down to a size 12. She didn’t have surgery or take pills. She ate well, sweated and ran her way to better health and a lower weight. The key here is that she had the educational level, financial stability and community support to reach her goal. If we want to fully address the problem of obesity in America, we need to first make sure that all women, no matter their education level, income, race or location, have access to the same levels of support, security, education and knowledge that my niece had. Continue reading


Report Ranks Niger as the Worst Country in the World to be a Mother

What are the world’s best and worst places to be a mother? Save the Children’s State of The World’s 13th annual Mothers’ Index analyzes health, education and economic conditions for women and children in 165 countries.

Norway ranks #1 this year, topping the more developed countries and Niger ranks last, at the very bottom of the least developed countries.
Nigeria ranks #80, last in the less developed countries category. Cuba leads this category, with South Africa and Ghana  holding spots #33 and #67 respectively.
The United States comes in #25 out of 43 more developed countries.

2012 Mothers’ Index Rankings

1 Norway 156 DR Congo
2 Iceland 156 South Sudan
3 Sweden 156 Sudan
4 New Zealand 159 Chad
5 Denmark 160 Eritrea
6 Finland 161 Mali
7 Australia 162 Guinea-Bissau
8 Belgium 163 Yemen
9 Ireland 164 Afghanistan
10 Netherlands/United Kingdom 165 Niger

The report shows how low cost solutions like breastfeeding and basic hygiene can save more than 1 million children’s lives each year. Read the interactive report, watch the videos and share info graphics. You can also sign a petition to urge World Leaders to support child survival solutions.

Download in PDF format the full report by clicking here, the Executive Summary by clicking here, and the complete list of rankings by clicking here. Continue reading

Develop a Good Writing Style


This article is by Angela Edekin, of GPI Roses Class.

We are not all born with silver spoons in our mouths, neither are we all going to end up having typewriters or computers. Good handwriting is an asset voluntarily acquired and almost impossible to lose. A student who cannot put forward their opinions or expressions in a neat and legible handwriting is doomed to remain a victim of examiners, teachers, or instructors. Examination candidates who do not have good handwritings may betray their chances with rough, illegible and uncontrolled scripts. Therefore the need for having good handwriting style should be seen as a strong complement of knowing the subject matter.

Unfortunately, for a number of years many students have ignored good handwriting as most of them scratch their opinions on paper. In consequence, they have lost out valuable marks which are required to pass both in school and beyond. in contemporary times, handwriting has been played down in school curricula which inevitably has led to students believing it is less important. Many students also assume (because no stress is laid on it in syllabi of external examinations) that good handwriting skills are not relevant. if this situation is to be rectified and the value of good handwriting underscored, there must first of all be an acceptance of the fact that bad handwriting can bias the teacher, examiner or reader, towards or against a student’s written content.

The essence of a good handwriting cannot be overemphasised. Please learn a good handwriting style. Continue reading

GPI Asaba awarded grant by Delta State

Tygerberg Community Outreach was one of the or...

GPI Asaba on the 14th of April 2012 was awarded a grant of N50,000 (+/- $317) by Delta State Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and Social Development.

The grant was presented during an interactive session with the heads and secretaries of Delta State community development associations organised by the ministry in Asaba. Participants included the Honorable Commissioners for Women Affairs,and Information, Chief of Staff (Government House) Dr Festus Okugbor, Permanent Secretary (Ministry of Women Affairs) Mr Mathew Ukey and other directors from the ministry. NGOs and various Local Government communities were also represented.

The programme aimed at appreciating and encouraging NGOs and Local Government communities in their efforts towards promoting societal development.

Joy in Africa, Best Sister Sisters, Master Care, International Centre for Women and Child Development are some of the other NGOs awarded the grant. Continue reading

AWID Forum 2012

This year’s AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) Forum will be holding at Halic (Golden Horn) Congress Centre in Istanbul. GPI will be represented by Grace Osakue and Toyin Okungbowa Bakare.

The Forum provides an opportunity for people working in women’s rights around the world to gather, share experiences, recharge their batteries and gain practical skills and knowledge that they can take back to work. Participants include activists, academics, program implementers, funders, and staff of international organisations. there have been eleven AWID forums prior to 2012.

GPI’s attendance at the forum is being sponsored by the Foundation for a Just Society. Continue reading

Drug Abuse

This article is by Omoreghae Angela, A GPI girl in Pearl Class.

Drug overdose

Many more Nigerian youths are taking to drugs of different kinds. Some take to drugs as a means of identifying with members of their age groups. Others do so as a means of rebelling against the values of adults, or as a way of escaping temporarily from reality.

A lot of parents today care more about making money than taking proper care of their offspring. They thus entrust their children to nannies whose backgrounds they know little or nothing about. Other causes include unemployment,  high rates of illiteracy and poverty, and the general insensitivity of the government to the common man’s plight.

Abuse of drugs leads to social problems of various types, many abusers end up invalids of one kind or the other. Some go mad and roam the streets. Their families reject them and they become a burden to the government that has to rehabilitate them. These people hardly ever become useful to the society or even themselves. Continue reading

The Way to Success

By Laura Uwangue, a GPI Alumni

"Success," a 20x30-inch inspirationa...

Striving for success without hard work is like harvesting what you did not plant. Your time is limited; do not waste it. Success is the ability to enthusiastically move from one failure to another. You cannot avoid passing through failure on your way to success.

It is never too late to be what you might have been. You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.

That which does not kill you will only make you stronger so keep doing those things which you are afraid to do.

As earlier stated, the only secret to success is hard work. Continue reading

From darkness, dignity: Why sexualized violence must move from the shadows

From darkness, dignity: Why sexualized violence must move from the shadows | Women Under Siege Project.

Picture of CBS News correspondent Lara Logan o...

Lara Logan on duty in Iraq.

Lara Logan is a correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes,” and CBS News’ chief foreign affairs correspondent, a position she has held since June 2008.

When I was overwhelmed by a mob of men in Tahrir Square in Egypt last February, I was filled with the certainty that I would die there. In my mind, I could see an image of my body lying discarded in the dirt.

It struck me that it would be a truly meaningless death.

And yet I was so shocked by the sexual assault, that instead of fighting for my life, I was at first fighting for my dignity. I kept appealing for mercy, begging them to stop in the midst of the violence and the chaos, as they tore my clothes from my body and raped me with their hands. Hundreds of them. Continue reading

Myth: A woman can’t get pregnant during her period.

cicle menstrual

While a woman is unlikely to conceive during menstruation, “nothing, when it comes to pregnancy, is impossible,” said Aaron Carroll of Indiana University and co-author of “Don’t Swallow Your Gum: Myths, Half-truths and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health” (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009).

Once inside a woman, sperm can wait for an egg for up to a week. Ovulation can occur soon after, or even during, the bleeding phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle, giving patient sperm the chance to get lucky. Continue reading

Applicants must be between the ages of 15 and 20. · Innovations in all fields (science and technology, civil society, arts and culture, sports, etc.) will be considered by the Prize Committee.

After School Peer Mentoring Project

The Anzisha Prize seeks to award young innovators who have developed and implemented innovative solutions to challenges facing their communities. The Anzisha Prize is the premier award for African leaders aged 15-20 who have developed and implemented innovative solutions to challenges facing their communities.

The Prize recognizes young people whose passion for Africa drives them to design and develop projects that transform their communities and the continent. Fifteen finalists from across Africa will win an all-expenses paid trip to South Africa to be a part of a week-long entrepreneurship workshop and conference at the African Leadership Academy campus on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The grand prize winners, selected from these finalists, will share prizes worth $75,000 USD.

The Anzisha Prize is an initiative of the African Leadership Academy in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation. “The Anzisha Prize Tour”. We will hold information summits in a number of African countries to…

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