Author and Speaker Robyn M. McGee Tackles Weighty Issues in her book Hungry For More
Foreword by Joycelyn Elders, M.D, former U.S. Surgeon General
November 2005—If you are an African-American woman, chances are you are considered to be fat. Statistics show 70% of black women are classified as overweight or obese. Is this a result of the classifier or the classified? In reality, it is both. Due to their genetic makeup, very few adult, African-American women are able to wear a size 2, the image that the movies, music videos and magazines serves up as the body type of the “perfect woman.” Though outwardly stylish and confident, inwardly, many African American women feel as if their self-image is under attack by the constant barrage of messages subliminally reminding them they are not beautiful because they don’t have the “correct” body dimensions. Buying into this impossible standard can be both mentally and emotionally draining-and dangerous. Robyn McGee author and speaker knows first hand how damaging low self-esteem combined with trying to live up to someone else’s idea of beauty can be.
“My sister Cathy always loved a good party. The last time I saw her, she was hosting a friend’s wedding” McGee reveals. “With her head thrown back in laughter, Cathy held a champagne glass in hand and was surrounded endless bottles of wine and enough food to feed ten armies.”
Cathy was always self-conscious about her full bosom, wide hips and thick legs, yet Cathy was a beautiful and accomplished black woman. She was married with four children and she owned her own business. Despite living what many consider the American dream Cathy was forever dissatisfied with her looks. Her lifelong obsession with her weight compelled her to indulge in the wrong foods, at the wrong times all for the wrong reasons. Eventually, Cathy gained the one hundred pounds over her ideal weight that qualified her for gastric bypass surgery. Her desperate quest to be thin proved to be deadly. She died from an infection four days after her operation. Cathy never made it back home.
“As I look back, I realize that Cathy’s struggle was not with her weight, but with feelings of inadequacy,” declares McGee. “If she’d understood that her perceptions were obscured by the societal norms and popular culture, she would have appreciated the dimensions that God gave black women and celebrated what she was rather than chasing something she wasn’t.”
Today more and more African American men and women are seeking weight loss surgery as a quick fix to a lifelong problem. It is estimated that 150,000 people had gastric bypass operations, in 2004 about 15% of those patients were African Americans. Frustrated after a lifetime of dieting disappointments, sick and tired of the teasing, the insults, and in poor health, many folks rush headlong into this major surgery without considering all the ramifications. In fact in October 2005, NBC news reported that 1 in 200 people died within a year after having weight loss surgery. This number is much higher than was previously reported.
In Hungry for More: A Keeping-it-Real Guide for Black Women on Weight and Body Image, author and speaker, Robyn McGee offers a holistic approach to weight and health by addressing their social and cultural implications. With foreword and praise by former U.S. Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders, M.D., Hungry for More is a straight-talking, informative book that encourages readers to take control of their lives and utilize practical ways they can combat obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle. McGee believes that without self-love and self-acceptance no diet or operation can be successful long-term.
“Unless you change what’s in your heart and mind, no amount of surgery will make you feel whole. Without psychological change to go with your physical change, you could risk gaining all of the weight back and still be miserable,” McGee said. Although she is not a medical doctor, in Hungry for More, McGee suggests trying less drastic ways to lose weight permanently before calling the weight loss surgeon. Weight Watchers, Overeaters Anonymous, seeing a therapist for possible depression, consulting a nutrition expert along with a commitment to regular exercise, could offer the results overweight people desire without the pain and risk of weight loss surgery, according to McGee.
Keeping her sister’s memory at the forefront, McGee’s timely tome is nonjudgmental, sympathetic and upfront in conveying to readers the importance of honoring themselves by making healthy lifestyle choices, being patient and diligent, seeking help when necessary and remembering that they are much more than a dress size or the numbers on a scale.
Hungry for More: A Keeping-it-Real Guide for Black Women on Weight and Body Image is due to be released in December 2005 by Seal Press, an imprint of Avalon Publishing Group, Inc.
Advance Praise for Hungry for More:
“Hungry for More is deliciously informative, real satisfying food for the soul, and a must read for all women.”—Josefina Lopez, Chicana activist and author of Real Women Have Curves.
“With the obesity epidemic among African-American women on the rise, this book provides very valuable information for black women who want to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Following much of the advice in this book will lead to a higher quality of life.” —Alvin F. Poussaint, MD. Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Judge Baker Children’s Center, Boston MA.
“I promise this book will make you feel full. McGee dares to go where few authors do – into the heart, stomach and pulse of the African-American female battle with hunger and weight. This is a personal and urgent account of how women are destroying ourselves – and how we can turn the tide away from hunger and obesity into freedom and power.” —Eve Ensler, Playwright.
“This insightful book comes at a critical time: when more and more women are dying to be thin. After losing her own sister to gastric bypass surgery, Robyn McGee set out on a mission to get to the bottom of Black women’s with obsession with their weight. The result: A fascinating read. This is a great book to give to your sister, your mother, your best friend, and, even better, yourself. —Pamela K. Johnson, West Coast Editor, Essence Magazine.