Is the Size of Beauty Changing in the African American Community? “No one wants a bone but a dog” is an old-school saying in the African American community that affirms the traditional approval of full-figured women by black men. It’s true. There are scores of guys of all races who prefer big women and choose them in the same way others favor blonds. Anecdotally speaking, a voluptuous woman could represent the ideal mother/lover image for men like Ron, a fifty-three-year-old special education teacher who “never dates a woman under a size 12” who has “food issues” and “does not like to eat.” Many men associate a woman who has a passion for food with someone who is highly sexual and likes to cook. Other guys admit to being attracted to the body type they are most familiar with from their family of sisters and a mother who are big-boned and fleshy. Jerome, a middle-aged African American grocery clerk who has dated large women his entire life, buys into the notion that “big women are easier. They don’t expect much and if they reject a brother, he does not feel as bad as if a skinny woman disses him. “And in bed,” Jerome laughs “there is more ‘pushin’ with the cushion’” Besides, Jerome said that in his experience “little women are evil.” A recent study published in the 'Journal Of Black Studies' reports that one size does not fit all when it comes to the size of beauty in the black community. In a 2004, report titled African American Men’s Perception of Body Figure Attractiveness by Tammy T. Webb, E. Joan Looby, and Regina Fults-McMurtery, the researchers found that African American men with more mainstream values, perceived women with smaller body figures as more attractive than women with a larger body figures. This is in stark contrast to the long-held belief all black American men prefer thick women. The writers of the 2004 report attribute the influence of movies, videos, magazine and video games to the changing tastes of who is considered beautiful by African American men. Still, men like Ron and Jerome and many others continue to date and marry full-figured girls. And according to Stephanie, a single mother and full-time student who lost over one hundred pounds after a gastric bypass operation, there is a world of difference between men like Ron and Jerome who love and appreciates big women and so-called “chubby chasers.” The latter are men with a fetish, obsessed with fatty flesh, believes Elizabeth, a full-figured graphic designer, “I call those guys ‘vultures,’ Elizabeth said. “They find and exploit [a woman] they think may have low self-esteem because of her size. Chubby chasers really don’t like themselves and come to us figuring we must also feel bad about ourselves too. They think we’ll be a perfect match.” Stephanie agrees. “Chasers are losers, weirdos, outcasts, secretly gay or bisexual, too short, or otherwise physically unattractive. “Especially the guys who troll the Internet chat rooms and place personal ads,” Stephanie rolls her eyes. “Those are the kinds of guys who are really looking for weak women to play ‘mama’ to them.” Chubby chasers may be desperately seeking women to support them and forgive them their infidelities and other faults in the same way that they might seek approval from an understanding parent. Chubby chasers are often in search of a woman with a big body and a big heart to match. Stephanie remembers encountering lots of men during her super-sized days who were “closet chubby chasers”--guys who wanted to be seen in public with a slender girl, but, when they got home, they wanted to “do it” with a fat girl.” An executive booking manager for a Los Angeles-area speakers’ bureau, Juanita describes herself as large and lovely and “a player in the dating scene.” She does not see herself as anyone’s wife--ever. “There are lots of men who like me because I am a big woman,” Juanita says. “I have never had a problem with men not liking me because of my weight; my personality shines. And men always comment on my pretty eyes. Obviously they admire the essence of me. They also like my other body parts too.” ### Robyn McGee, M.A. California State University, Dominguez Hills Women's Resource Center 1000 E. Victoria Street Carson, CA 90747 (310) 243-2486 [email protected] Robyn McGee ---------------------------------------------------------------------- IMAGE is EVERYTHING.