This week, Academy Award-winning actress Mo’Nique took the stage with other dynamic women to talk to Spelman College’s students about obesity and its health-related issues. The event, “The Best Advice I Ever Got: Conversations With Wise Women,” is part of Spelman’s push to better the health of its Black women on campus.
Mo’Nique talked about how for years she embraced her large size, believing it was an act of resistance against a culture that tells women that skinnier is better and fat shames those who don’t fit into that mold. She also talked about how Black women are encouraged to be thick in our community.
But on stage, she told the crowd that her husband made her realize the reality — she weighed too much. The Washington Post wrote:
When her husband asked her weight, she told him, “proudly, as sexy as I could, ‘262 pounds.’ ”
When her husband responded, “That’s too much,” Mo’Nique was dumbstruck. Until he added, “I want you for a lifetime."
No loved one had ever told her, “That’s too much weight.” Deeply moved, Mo’Nique reflected on all she secretly carried that was “too much”: too much depression, too much anger, too much shifting the “poison” of her rage onto others. Her “best advice” to Spelman students: Shush the “fraudulent” inner voice that suggests you settle for less. “Will yourself to win.”
Since that day, Mo’Nique embarked on a fitness journey and lost a total of 70 pounds with the help of regular workouts with her trainer, cutting out junk food and eating healthier. And these are exactly the types of messages that Spelman wants for its students to hear.
Last November, BET.com reported that the college nixed their sports program to use their $1 million athletic budget for the “Wellness Revolution,” an initiative that will focus solely on the health of all of their students. The new program was prompted by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, Spelman's president, who was concerned with the state of the health of not only her current students, but also those who have already graduated.
Tatum’s concerns are not unwarranted: African-American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S, according to the Office of Minority Health. Seventy-five percent are obese or overweight and 25 percent of African-American women older than 55 have diabetes.
And according to the Washington Post, more than half of Spelman’s students are obese, suffer from high blood pressure or are diabetic. Perhaps Spelman can spark a fitness revolution among all of our HBCUs.
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(Photo: Derrick Salters/WENN.com)
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