I don’t want to be like you and daddy. Sure, there are lots of good things you guys do really well. But what I am trying to say is that when I am all grown up, I don’t want to be your size.
I heard this report last week about black folks and obesity. We’re the biggest in the country. The Centers for Disease Control says 36 percent of black adults are obese. One look at our family shows that we do our part to keep blacks in the No. 1 spot for fatness.
The other day when we were at the grocery store, I watched you slowly throw your leg over the seat of the motorized riding cart. You said you get out of breath pushing the basket, even when it’s not full. I watched you go through the bakery and deli section. The look on your face reminded me of Christmas. Your eyes got wider when you got to the freshly baked cakes. You leaned over and got one with chocolate icing to place in the basket. But did you ever pay attention to the no-sugar-added desserts. My friend told me they are good, too. But I don’t know because you never buy them.
You almost did a mad dash through the produce section, just across the aisle from the bakery. You only got some collard greens and a couple of tomatoes. What about the other stuff over there?
I went home with one of my friends after school to work on a project. Her mother took some fresh strawberries and bananas, and put them in the blender with ice. It tasted sooo good, and it was all natural with no extra sugar. We could do that, too, if you bought fruit at the store.
That study said obesity among us black folks ranges from 23 percent to 45.1 percent depending on which state you live in. Hispanics are a little smaller overall, but not much. Their obesity rate ranges from 21 percent to 36.7 percent. Whites are the smallest; their obesity ranges from 9 percent to 30.2 percent.
I’m not saying that I don’t want to be black. I just don’t want to be fat and black. When I am grown, I want to be able to stand up straight, and look down and see my feet. I don’t want my belly to get in the way.
I want to exercise. I see white people running in parks in their neighborhoods and riding bicycles. It looks like fun. I want to dance, ballerina style or maybe even African dance. When I was little, being a chunky girl in a short set was cute. Now that I am older, a chunky girl in a tutu ain’t so cute.
I’m going to make some changes myself. I am going to insist that you buy fruit and veggies in the grocery store, and that we make healthier food choices. I am going to exercise, even if it’s just walking up and down the stairs out front. I’ve got to do something.
I am saying this to you now because I am scared to think about our future. When I graduate high school, I want you guys to be able to walk up the steps in the stadium and pop up and cheer when my name is called. When I get married, I want daddy to be able to get a tuxedo in his size and walk me down the aisle.
I want you guys to be there. I want you to live.
Love, Your Little Girl
Denise Stewart is a regular contributor to The Root.