Hungry for More: A Keeping-It-Real Guide for Black Women on Weight and Body Image
By Robyn McGee
You probably won't find this book on the best-seller racks. Still, if it applies to you or someone you care about, hunt it down for a read.
In Hungry for More, author Robyn McGee, director of women's services at California State University, tells us the story of her 49-year-old sister, Cathy, who died of heart complications after gastric bypass surgery.
Cathy's death, McGee says, changed her own life and way of looking at the pressures facing African-American women.
McGee, an African-American, examines the issues surrounding obesity, which affects up to 70 percent of America's 18 million black women. She questions whether the normal body mass index is a reliable gauge for black women. And she takes issue with stereotypes of black women as "Big Mamas" or "Black Earth Mothers." She takes us inside a world where plus-size women are pursued by needy men called "chubby chasers," who thwart women's efforts to get healthy. Although it was not a factor in her sister's case, she also examines the link between childhood sexual abuse and obesity. Eating disorders, she writes, are among the most common psychological, emotional and behavioral side effects of sexual abuse.
This book is a mix of narrative and academic discourse. Unfortunately, that's where it stumbles. The academic reporting is solid, but the compelling story of Cathy's battle with weight and her decision to have a risky operation is scattered and disjointed.
We get bits and pieces of Cathy's struggles with her family, her husband and her weight. But we don't get the full picture. Still, McGee's message is a sound one. She hopes the story of Cathy's life and death will help other black women move toward self-acceptance.