A heavy honey spreads it on thick: in her new book, fabulous funny woman Mo'Nique challenges the tyranny of the thin and celebrates living large.
Mo'Nique says, "Good things do come in BIG packages--like a BIG house, a BIG car, a BIG bank account, and even a BIG, beautiful woman." Mo'Nique is a big, beautiful woman with a big heart and big sense of humor that can blast any skinny sistah out of the salad bar.
Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded Worm (Atria Books, April 2003, $23.00, ISBN 0-743-46471-0) has the feel of an extended comedy act--language and all. But there's also a very serious undertone of real anger toward a cultural regime that has pedestalized (if that is even a word) the thin-and-the-skinny, the-if-you-ain't-buff-you-ain't-baaaad! Mo'Nique challenges a dictatorship run entirely by evil, superior-presuming skinny women nibbling on lettuce leaves. She aims to promote regime change--especially since we know that all the while, these evil dictators covet a Big Mac with super-size fries and a diet Coke.
"There are so many big girls out there who are not okay," Mo'Nique said in an interview with BIBR. "They're not happy with the skin they're in. I've got to let them know they are okay. They are beautiful!" She says, "Tell yourself, I'm worthy!" But where do you get the encouragement to even think of yourself as beautiful and worthy? Mo'Nique responds without hesitation: "It starts at home, that's where it kicks off.
"My father never allowed name-calling. So when my brother called me a `fat pig' I was devastated. My parents never said to me, `Don't eat that'. They never did that to me. It starts with the acceptance of our parents.
"Conditioning is a crazy thing. You can be conditioned to be something great or to be something bad. And my parents told all their children we could run the world. That's all we know. We don't know anything else. My sister and I are lions. `No, you go out and get what you want. You be aggressive.' Talk about conditioning! We had those conversations when we were like three or four years old. So imagine 30 years of that. I'm 35 now, and my father still has those conversations with us. I didn't know how to duck my head between my legs and cry because it didn't work out my way. The only thing I know how to do is to keep striving. My father said, `Hold your head up. You are the prettiest girl in the world. Let people see that face. So all these years later, I'm still holding it up."
Mo'Nique's mission is to give support to those fabulous and thick girls out there who didn't have the kind of support she had to help her become the PHAT (Pretty, Hot, And Thick) woman we see today. Though the target audience is certainly the big, beautiful girl, the message of Skinny Women is universal, because everyone has "stuff." Within the African American community, throughout the years, we have had to deal with the various issues that focus on appearance--hair: straight vs. nappy; complexion: dark vs. brown vs. high yellow vs. light. Mo'Nique's message is to rejoice in who you were created you to be.
"Historically, black women are thick women. So why are we trying to adopt somebody else's stuff. We ain't never just are carrots and celery. When we did, we are it with steak and a baked potato!
"We had those big Sunday dinners. Big fish fries. That's what we did as a race. Now all of a sudden," Mo'Nique's voice changes to a condescending, superior tone, `I don't eat that'.
"Stop it," she screams. "Food brings people together. At my grandmother's, who has since passed away, you knew that every Sunday, every holiday, every Saturday, grandma was cookin' up a big ol' feast. And it was when everybody got together and we just are until we dropped.
"A lot of times we want to beg somebody to accept us. No more of that. It's about looking good and feeling good. I'm going to show every curve. God gave this to me, and I'm not a bit ashamed. You'd be surprised. The men love it."
In fact, many men prefer a woman with something they can hold on to. I caught Mo'Nique on NAACP Awards presenting with Gary Dourdan of TV's CSI. Mo'Nique looked fabulous and the sistah teased and flirted with the brotha--and who could blame her. Dourdan seemed to love every minute.
Mo'Nique does not ignore the reality of the health issues associated with carrying extra pounds. "The real meat of the matter is all of the conflicting messages. You don't have to lose weight to be beautiful, I do want to say that good health is imperative. It's no secret that diabetes, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure all work against us when we're heavy, so take good care of yourself, see a doctor regularly, and if the gym isn't for you, find something that is. It's a proven fact that staying in shape is the key to a healthy life. But damn it, don't hurt yourself!"
With her book in the stores, Mo'Nique has one thing to say: "Go, get it! Big girls, let's take it to the top." Early on she writes: "A few years ago, folks doubted that a HEAVY honey could make it in Hollywood. They said I'd never be a star of a show. Well, I got three words to say about nonsense--kiss my ... well, you know. Like one skinny agent who told me the best I could hope for in Hollywood were roles as the FAT neighbor, the FAT cousin, or the FAT mother, but never the star. What she failed to realize is that this was born long before she stepped foot in Hollywood.
"I promise you my F.A.T. (Fabulous And Thick) sisters, that together we will conquer the small minds."
Personally, my favorite part is the list at the end that tells where to get good food in 11 different American airports by concourse and in some cases the gates. It is no great stretch to imagine the sequel to Skinny Women. How about: P.H.A.T. Women Are Phabulous: The BIG Girl's Guide to Good Eating and Luscious Living?
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|Title Annotation:||Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded World|
|Author:||Hunt, Sharita M.|
|Publication:||Black Issues Book Review|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||May 1, 2003|
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