Growing up in a predominately white environment and being a Black woman can be difficult. Growing up in a predominately white environment and being an overweight Black woman can be even more difficult. In high school, I had a black girl friend who was about 65 pounds overweight, she eventually lost the weight and lost quite a few friends. Being an overweight Black woman with a bunch of white girl friends can be tough, let me explain why.
As an overweight Black woman in an all-white, all female group, sometimes, you’ll be treated as the mammy of the group. Your job is to make the “skinny white girls,” feel better about themselves, entertain them and stay in your subordinate position. You’re basically the fat black girl friend. Whenever a crisis arises, you’ll be the go-to girl that the “skinny white girls” can depend on to build up their self-esteem and then go back to their superior position.
In high school, my friend was often the
mammy friend that would give dating advice, help pick out clothes and hold the purses of the skinny white girls whenever they socialized. Let me give you an example, when she and her white girl friends would go to the mall, her white girl friend would try on clothes, stand in front of the mirror and say “oh my God I am SO FAT,” then she’d grab her non-existent gut. Mind you, the girl was stick thin, straight up and down skinny and she knew that…nevertheless that was my friend’s cue to say “girl, you are not fat…I’M FAT…you look good.”
This white girl used her to elevate her own self-esteem and make herself feel better. When she went to school dances, my friend was the one that her skinny white girl friends would go to for boy advice. They would rely on her for comfort and an ego boost when they felt like a white guy ( or any guy) wasn’t paying them attention or
worshiping treating them the way that they felt they should treated. She would be the one who would hold their purses if a guy asked them to dance, while she stood on the side like a wall flower. None of her white girl friends ever offered to set her up with any guys. Her white girl friends would treat her like the third wheel, but at the same time pay her phony compliments like “oh my god, I LOVE YOU,” and do the phony hug and kiss routine. When it came to entertainment, she was basically made into a buffoon. She was expected to crack jokes all the time, act like a stereotypical, ghetto, Black girl and just entertain them. She was their token.
And the white guys…
To the white guys, she wasn’t even on their radar in terms of being a girlfriend. They treated her as if she were completely asexual. She was the girl that they used to get at her white girl friends. Sometimes they’d even tell her all the girls they’d like to sleep with and it was never her. They treated her like she was asexual, but at the same time they patronized her with phony displays of affection. They would pet her head (w/out permission), they would give her a platonic hug or a sister-like kiss on the cheek and they felt comfortable doing this because (to them) she wasn’t sexual enough for their affection to be interpreted as romantic interest. She wasn’t really a real girl to them. Whereas with the skinny white girls, they would never kiss, hug or treat them the way they did her unless they were romantically involved with them because they viewed them as sexual.So she was basically the platonic friend to the white guys. Here is a great article about the platonic friend situation.
When my friend joined a weight loss program and lost 65 pounds, suddenly her white girl friends no longer felt the need to be friends with her. They stopped inviting her out and stopped talking to her. She was pretty much shunned. She was no longer the cumbersome, jolly, make-a – white girl feel better friend, no…
As for the white guys, once she lost the weight, the hugging and sister-like kisses stopped… the schmoozing about the girls they wanted to sleep with stopped… Why? … My guess is they no longer felt comfortable showing platonic affection because they viewed her as sexual. After she lost weight and started caring about her appearance, she became sexual competition. She was no longer the asexual, platonic; mammy black girl who the white guys could patronize and condescend to…no she was attractive, young and sexy. She had a nice hour glass shape and when she started to wear cute clothes, she was no longer on the side lines while her white girl friends tried on clothes, she was trying on clothes with them and… looked DAMN good in them at that!
The truth is that some white people feel comfortable around overweight Black women because subconsciously it reminds them of mammy. You know mammy, the asexual, cumbersome, Black woman who was made to look as sexually unappealing as possible. It makes them feel less threatened and it desexualizes the Black woman.
Not all white women or white men treat Black women this way. I know many white women who will stick by their black girl friends through thick and thin, but unfortunately there are SOME white men and white women who have this superiority complex where they use Black women, ESPECIALLY, overweight Black women to fill a void in their lives. These type of white folks do not want the Black woman to be appealing and do not value her feelings, she is merely there to reinforce their feelings of superiority and assuage their insecurity. My advice to Black women is to reject this mammy role and stop allowing others to rob you of your womanhood. Do not be content to play the mammy girl friend whether it’s for the white guy or the white girl.