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Is She Fat Or Thick: How ‘Woke’ Culture is Redefining Sensitive Issues That Affect Women.
The society has for a long time determined what body type is acceptable at the expense of body shaming and bullying women. IMAGE COURTESY/
Features, Health

Is She Fat Or Thick: How ‘Woke’ Culture is Redefining Sensitive Issues That Affect Women. 

The rappers Trinidad James, Lil Dicky and Mystikal may have started this whole conversation when they sang ‘just a lil thick’ and even dedicated the first line of the song celebrating women saying, ‘For all my gorgeous, healthy, sisters all around the world, I’m talkin’ the 175 and up club, the week cook good, we eat good and we look good. She ain’t fat bruh, she’s just a lil thick…’

And this has been the conversation that has resulted to lots of body shaming, attack between people who have opinions on what exactly is the right body type for the society and also resulted to lots of body insecurities for women who feel slightly overweight or underweight and are forced to keep up with what the society considers fine and or acceptable.

Sociologist Judith Nduta explores this whole ‘woke culture’ dilemma in redefining opinions, issues and the consequences of what it means to ignore the reality.


Woke culture in theory is a deep sense of awareness and understanding of issues that affect our world especially when it comes to marginalized communities.

However, it has unfortunately been turned in to a bully culture that cancels anyone who even slightly disagrees with ‘our’ or general perceived understanding.

Where digital communication cuts across globally due to increased social media presence and platforms, people have been bullied for either how they look or for commenting on how others look. How is it that in one photo, there will be comments of people calling a woman ‘fat’ and under the same photo, other people considering the pictured person ‘thick’? Is it a preference matter? The contentious issue here being, when is it that people consider a woman overweight and when is she just, thick?

‘’To answer that we must first exercise empathy. Our measure of health was defined based on white bodies for example BMI, then standardized across everyone. So, for black women especially, society and even medicine tries to fit us into a mould of health that wasn’t built for us.

Due to the visibility that social media has provided, the world is now one big fish bowl. As such, there has been a trend of a certain body shape that is deemed acceptable.

The positive aspect of this redefine is that it provides a community that accepts and allows people to be comfortable in their own skin. The negative aspect is that it leaves any one judging that community open to attacks.

As such, the lack of positive criticism will leave individuals in a bubble that doesn’t address the possible health issues that come with being overweight or obese.’’ Explains Sociologist Judith Nduta.

With this redefine, there are bound to be lots of people who may suffer from self esteem issues based on how they look as compared to what now the society considers acceptable or standard body weight.

Some have been forced to go the extra mile and ended up having plastic surgeries just to achieve that body type while others have also ended up taking extreme weight loss measures just to look like the girls they glorify on the internet.

By the society establishing an ideal body type, it means that a majority of the population will be left out. However, the internet tends to portray the minority as the majority.

According to Judith Nduta, ‘One’s self esteem is now defined by how others perceive them and this can cause one to isolate from the society which may lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders and self-depreciating language.’’

In the African context, men generally prefer women who are more ‘fleshy’ as once described on a song. Even the movies depicted within native African context show that African men have a preference for ‘bigger’ women than the ‘smaller’ women. But how does this ‘thick syndrome’ mentality contribute to how they look at women?

‘’Because African society is deeply patriarchal, female bodies have always been critiqued from the perspective of the male gaze. Women are taught from an early age that in order to be ‘marriage material’ they have to fit into whatever version the male counterparts deem acceptable.

Sub consciously, women have adapted that mentality and have also judged themselves and other women based on that narrative.’’ Adds Judith Nduta.

The popular culture defines thick as having a curvaceous body mainly focusing on having a big butt. This can be seen in countless articles, videos and diets that are targeted to help women gain muscles in their glutes.

Using this definition, one can be obese but as long as they have a big butt the society is willing to overlook it and this is one of the many reasons why obesity affects more women than the men.

But do women have a say in what is or should be considered thick or overweight or is this only determined by men?

‘’Yes, women do. This circles back to the first question on the redefine. It stems from a need to define our bodies for ourselves and also create a community that views women’s bodies from an empathetic stance that allows women grace to be ‘flawed’ and essentially human.’’ Says Judith Nduta.

At the end, knowing and living a healthy lifestyle should not be pegged onto some woke movement. Women come in different shapes and sizes, and the best one can do is try to be as healthy as they can by knowing their bodies, are informed on the healthy choices they have to make and are living a healthy lifestyle because being thick is dangerous if you are headed for serious health issues.

Don’t let the society fool you into being sick based on the perceptions they have of you and what they think you should look like.


Judith Nduta is a passionate advocate for the human rights of marginalized communities with a focus on women and children. She has an educational and professional background in Human Services and Family Relations. She is the founder of MEKA, a company that is redefining what beauty looks like for the everyday woman while also encouraging women to lead lives that are authentic to them and not what society prescribes for them. Connect with her here:

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