COLUMNIST'S NOTE: This commentary is by a plus-sized
Black female journalist, regarding Eddie Murphy's newest film
Am I going to see "Norbit?"
Everyday I wake up and look in the mirror, there
are several things I notice.
The first being that I'm Black, followed by the
fact that I'm a woman. It's usually around this time that I realize
that I don't have on my glasses and so after reaching for them
and putting them on I'm hit with the awful truth that I'm fat,
So what does this have to do with anything?
There are very few positive images of Black women
who wear any size above a 2, out in the media. America is obsessed
with thin, and quite frankly, it's still in. Aside from Jennifer
Hudson, Monique, Queen Latifah, and Jill Scott, positive portrayals
of plus-sized Black women in the media are hard to come by. Oprah
used to be the President of the Big Beautiful Women's Club and
Star Jones the Vice-President, but they've since ditched us to
get in with the thin club.
So here comes Eddie Murphy and the release of his
latest endeavor "Norbit" that has him performing several
different roles, including that of an obese, mean Black woman.
Thanks Eddie, as if Black women don't already have
an image problem. That just did wonders for my self esteem and
plus-sized Black women all across America; not only are we fat
but we're mean too.
Being fat is no laughing matter, I can tell you
because I speak from first hand experience. Everyday is a constant
challenge from getting dressed, to leave the house, to dealing
with the fact that Americans' obsession with skinny people causes
good people with great hearts to go unnoticed, like me. I'm a
woman and I like to shop, so it's not easy going into the mall
knowing that aside from the shoe stores, there are very few places
that I can go into that offer anything more than muumuu's for
people my size. And while I can hide the fact that I'm a lesbian
if I choose too, it's kind of hard to hide the 100 extra pounds
A little known fact is that in America, 70% of
Black women are overweight. So while we may be piling into the
theaters to see "Norbit" and stuffing our faces full
of popcorn, the cholesterol alone is killing us inside.
Films like "Norbit" do absolutely nothing
to help combat the issue of obesity in the Black community nor
do they do anything to uplift the Black female.
On one side we've got scantily clad Black women
prancing across our TV screens, bouncing to lyrics too misogynistic
to repeat in this editorial, from the mouths of Black men and
then there's Murphy and "Norbit." What's a girl to do?
And in between all of this, what's the message
we are conveying to our children about being a woman? If obesity
is an issue for Black women, then it's definitely an issue for
At the end of the day, Eddie isn't solely to blame
for "Norbit," but he is the face of the film. Before
the film reached theatres, it was green lighted by a group of
people, hopefully none of which were Black women, who didn't care
about the affect of the film on people like you or me, just the
affect it had on their pocket books.
And I didn't need to see Eddie Murphy in a two
piece to remind me of what I don't need to wear on the beach.
Trust me, I know.
So, what was the question again? Am I going to
see "Norbit?" No, I think I'd rather stay in and watch
Chandra Wilson represent women my size on Grey's Anatomy tonight
with the grace and dignity that we deserve.
So, while today it's "Norbit", in a few
weeks it will be "Reno 911!: Miami" with Niecy Nash
as Deputy Raineesha Williams and the big Black booty jokes.
When will the madness stop?
Columnist Jasmyne Cannick, 29, is a social commentator, nationally
syndicated journalist and activist who was chosen as one of ESSENCE
Magazine's 25 Women Shaping the World. She is a member of the
National Association of Black Journalists and writes a popular
daily blog at jasmynecannick.com
She resides in Los Angeles. Click here
to contact Ms. Cannick.