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Issue 17 Out Now


Disparities in Health and Wellness for Larger Women of Color

Kiki Marshall

What is fatphobia? Simply put: fat phobia is the fear and/or hatred of fat bodies. In even simpler terms “fatphobia” is rude and judgmental at its finest. Let’s dissect this shall we? Obesity is one of the many social roadblocks we’ve shed light on this year. We’ve noticed that the commonality between the stresses on any given individual when pursuing their path to identity and freedom, are the waves of judgment from those around them. Whether crafted by fear, misunderstanding, or jealousy these barriers tend to keep us from understanding the people around us and expanding our perspective.

Kiki explains that the goal of Sonder was to encourage self reflection by understanding life through another persons lens. Sonder, is a short film that is part of Miss Marshall’s Thesis Project for her Masters in Digital Media & Professional Communication, at Texas Southern University. Featuring Influencers like Daquana White and other women of color, they share their stories and experiences regarding societies perspectives and behaviors towards larger women.

“Sonder means the feeling of realizing that every person has a life as equally complex as your own. I think that’s a beautiful thing… because people realize they’re living a life just like me…and it’s hard for them just like its hard for me” — Kiki Marshall

Exercising the muscles of empathy and understanding is key to leveling the judgement within ourselves for peers. The capability to see the structures of society that press on the shoulders of others, and taking steps toward eliminating your potential bias from the issue, is the first step to collective acceptance and understanding for people of all shapes and sizes.

“No matter what, everyone is insecure about something. We just have to realize that no ones life is going to affect our lives. We can’t let what other people think or other people say….shut us down. Everyone is going through something, and once we realize insecurity is what's holding us back from living these beautiful lives, we’re able to let it go.” — Kiki Marshall

A large instigator in our perception of others tends to be media. Otherwise known as cultivation theory, the idea that consistent exposure to media over time shapes our perspective on the world around us. For a variety of communities, including larger women of color, the false realities of their lives that are televised, fetishized, and fantasized in the media deeply impact our perception as viewers. It creates this idea of them that we feel needs not be tested, but is simply rationalized as truth. As viewers and consumers of mass media we must remain mindful that media is only one version of other peoples realities, usually told by people who don’t live in the realities they’ve created for us to consume.

Sonder is a way for Miss Marshall to connect with the outside world and meet those perspectives head on, with her truth. The reality is, a lot of these perceptions not only impact larger women of color on a personal level, but can be seen in medical treatment and professional settings as well. The medical treatment of black women specifically has surfaced with undeniable statistics that prove there is definitely something wrong.

Just Medicine: A Cure for Racial Inequality in American Healthcare (2015), explores how unconscious biases that may be held by health care providers could account for racial disparities in health.

According to the Black Women’s Health Imperative Black women are 3–4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications, and 3–4 times more likely to suffer from a severe disability resulting from childbirth than White women. The disparities in our communities regarding both mental and physical health and wellness can be attributed to the lack of funding, research, education, and consistency surrounding these barriers. The lack of Sonder breeds less empathy, understanding, or desire to be more inclusive and accurate for individuals belonging to other racial or social groups.

Sonder calls for a rise to action to eliminate social prejudice surrounding larger women of color, day-by-day increasing awareness and understanding for those adversely impacted by societies bias of larger women. Take a look.

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