Ta-nehisi on weight and class…

I gave away my 20s, in large measure, to writing and to my kid. I don’t regret that. Everything–from a beautiful son to beautiful commenters–I have now stems from those choices.  Still, it was not a fun time. How did I get over?  Leaving aside the support of my family, I have two words for you–Breyer’s and Entenmann’s. It sounds disgusting when I write it. But that little a’la mode pick-me-up made things a little more bearable.

Now, here’s the thing. I paid some dues, but I was not living in the PJs. I worried about eviction sometimes, but my parents always had my back. We were poor–but we were creative class poor.Kenyatta and I had chosen our paths. This was what we wanted, even if we didn’t know what it would cost. And finally once I saw some return, I needed that pick-me-up a lot less, and sort of like paying old debt, I started shrinking back to the old me. Very slowly, I might add. But, by the ghost of Gabriel Prosser, I’m approaching the self I knew before this odyssey began.

What about people who are born into hardship? Who are born into stress and born into eating as a way of ameliorating that stress? Who grow up in an environment where mostly everyone else does the same? And then this gets conflated with old ideas about food and money–the notion that “All You Can Eat” is a good thing.

There is a culture to being fat, and putting fresh veggies in the hood isn’t enough to counter it. The culture is complicated–and its more American than it is hood. I would encourage people to think about all the negative ways we cope. The upper-class may not be fat, but in my experience, they know their way around the tequila bottle.


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