Middle Age: What Happened to Our Men?

fat men2Recently, my close friend Wendy and I had a conversation. She brought something to my attention that really matters. She shared with me that during a social event that she was at, she noticed the number of middle aged (40’s, 50’s and up) who were in attendance were, predominately Black men, who were very out of shape and walked as though they were tired and/or stooped over. She told me that she didn’t see even one who  she found even remotely physically attractive. I can definitely relate to that because, although we live in different cities, I see this on regular basis right here in Atlanta.

Wendy reminded me about the on-going and prevailing movement in this country to get black women to eat better, get healthy and exercise. I agreed with her. How many Weight Watcher commercials have we recently seen where Oprah Winfrey is boasting about her 40 pound weight loss. I can’t even count how many Facebook pages suggest I “like” them; they’re usually in the spirit of “Black women exercising” or “Black Women Getting Healthy” or something to do with promoting the health and wellness of black women.  This is a wonderful thing, no doubt!

However, much to Wendy’s point, how often do we see websites, Facebook pages and links or even commercials where fat black men are the targeted audience? Where’s the campaign or movement for them?  I really had to think about this when Wendy brought it to my attention. So, what does this mean? Are we as a black community less concerned about the health of our aging men than we are about our aging women? Why isn’t there as much emphasis on fat black men? Is this a double standard thing or what?

There have always been two sets of rules for men and women in our culture and the black community is no different. A man can put on weight, grow a gut the size of a beach ball, lose his hair or let his grey grow in AND never lose his desire for sex. And, of course, with the invention of the little blue pill, an aging penis is still able to get the job done.  Truth is, I have been approached by beach ball bellies and the thing that I noticed, besides their girth, is their confidence! Many of these men, who are clearly obese and out of shape, still feel as though they have a chance. Are we culturally more accepting of overweight men than we are of overweight women? I think we are and that’s unfortunate.

During our conversation, Wendy reminded me about a few dismal statistics. She said,

Overall, women outlive men, we often end up taking care of our partners/lovers, many in long term relationships only begin to live our lives after partners have passed on and our men suffer/die from HBP, and among other issues, heart and prostate disease, many while being “comfortably overweight and out of shape.”

Once again, I agree.  We’re not saying that overweight/out of shape black women don’t suffer from many health issues also. According to the CDC, heart disease is the number one cause of death in black (and white) women in the U.S.  Heart disease used to be considered a man’s disease, but not anymore! Maybe with this revelation of heart disease now being a woman’s issue, too, hence this tenacious emphasis on women’s health and wellness. I say hooray! Let’s keep our bodies as healthy as possible – let’s learn that a cup of anything is usually enough. Let’s continue to encourage our fellow sisters to exercise daily – either alone or with others – take a walk or a Zumba class…it doesn’t matter, just move. But, what about our men?  Collectively, what are we doing to share the focus and get overweight aging black men up and moving? Being overweight sucks your energy level and that has a negative impact on your social and romantic life. This applies to men and women. But for some reason, I think we middle aged women are “getting it” faster than our partners because we’re the ones coordinating walks, runs, fitness classes, working out at home and in the gym. Disclaimer: I’m not saying that this applies to ALL middle aged black men – it doesn’t.  But truthfully, for far too many, it does apply.

Look, let’s keep it real here. Men love attractive, shapely, fit/semi fit/at-least-attempting no-treadmill1to be fit women…even if they’re not! There’s nothing better than a sexy, vibrant, energetic mature woman who takes charge of her health and wellness.  We, women, want the same things in our men! We also want vibrant and energetic fit/semi-fit/at-least-attempting to be fit men in our lives.

Being middle aged doesn’t have to be synonymous with being fat, out of shape, overweight, unproductive, boring, tired, empathetic or unengaged in life. I have written several pieces on living our best lives at this age. The possibilities are endless and exciting. However, in addition to the wonderful things to look forward to, we have to be vigilant about our aging bodies and taking care of them. This is the time in our lives – men and women- when we start becoming the “other people” who we read about who died suddenly or unexpectedly. We are those “other” people. Although there are some things that are out of our control, we must try to do better with the things that are.

Please leave me a comment and share your thoughts on this topic. I’d love to hear from you!

 

To Wendy (My friend and still the hardest working sista I know): Thanks for the conversation and for giving me a great topic to write about. It needs to be said.

Photo credit: Dreamstime Stock Photos

 

 

BLACK WOMEN: WHY AREN’T WE NICER TO EACH OTHER?

ImageAs I walked down the aisle at a local grocery store, I pushed my shopping cart and tried to decide what I wanted for dinner. I hate cooking! I sometimes look in other people’s shopping carts to see what they’re having and to maybe get an idea for something new. I saw a woman approaching me with her cart. She and I were the only two in the aisle. Now, I’m a naturally cheerful and upbeat person who is never far from a brief conversation or friendly interaction with a stranger. It comes very easy for me to make eye contact and smile at someone – I do it often. The woman was black and appeared to be in her 40’s. As we approached each other, I’d already eyed her shopping cart – she didn’t seem to like cooking any more than I did!  I laughed to myself and tried as hard as I could to make eye contact with her. But that was impossible to do because she continued to push her cart and never even glanced in my direction. Instead, she looked straight ahead and as she passed me by, she then turned her head completely away from me. Now I realize that we all get distracted and have tunnel vision at times. I would have simply written this off as one of those such times if it hadn’t been a pretty regular occurrence. It was as though I was invisible to her. It was like she deliberately made a point of ignoring me. Unfortunately, I’ve become used to it, especially living here in Atlanta.

I have made a few observations regarding this matter. In my experiences, my eye contact and smiles are usually reciprocated by older black women, sometimes my own age or, more commonly, older than myself. They will usually smile and even speak to me first or eagerly respond to my greetings. I have noticed that many younger black women (20’s – 30’s) will usually avoid any type of eye contact with me, especially if we are in close proximity – maybe to these young women, I really AM invisible – and that’s okay.  In all fairness, there are exceptions to these rules, but I’ve been observing this for several years now and I’m pretty much on point about this.

It is not uncommon for me to give a perfect stranger, male or female, a compliment. I will not hesitate to tell a sister that she’s rocking an outfit or a hairstyle and how great she looks. I will also compliment a man on how good he smells if I walk past him at the mall (now if he’s with his woman, I won’t do that!), or compliment a man on his tie. My point is, it’s not about extending false flattery, it’s about paying a genuine compliment to someone who deserves it. It takes nothing away from me, but may be the only nice thing that the other person has heard all day.

Why do we black women feel the need to compete and viciously berate and degrade each other. Surely I’m not speaking about the incident in the grocery store – it goes much deeper than that. There seems to be an undeclared, unspoken “war” that we’ve waged upon each other and I’m not sure when it began or why. If we’re at an event or a party, or just out to dinner and a beautiful black woman walks into the room, immediately we’ve sized her up and have decided that she is competition and we don’t like her. Why not? Is it because we feel that she is going to take any available men away from us? Is it because her beauty threatens our own? Do we feel inadequate or inferior? Are we afraid that our own men will find her attractive also, thereby making us feel less attractive? What is it in ourselves that makes so many of us unkind to one another? Does this instant dislike for each other come down to men? Image

We always hear how there’s a shortage of good black men in our communities – either they’re in jail, on drugs, gay, married, etc. You’ve all heard it. Is this belief the fuel for our jealousy and insecurities? The thought that there won’t be enough of anything left to go around? Do we feel better about our lives when we make others feel badly about theirs? Why don’t we celebrate each other and our accomplishments and successes? Instead, so many of us criticize, look for faults or failures or we simply say nothing at all. It’s obvious that I have more questions than answers. I can’t speak on how other races treat each other, and no race is without their own issues. However, I suspect that there is less of a  “crab in the barrel” mentality and more cohesiveness and support for each other than we display. Haven’t we been through enough already? Can’t we show each other love and compassion?

Try this for yourself. The next time that you’re in an aisle or passing another black woman, make eye contact with her and smile and see if she’ll respond. Notice if she will even look in your direction at all. I hope you’re pleasantly surprised, but don’t count on it!  How about we all make at least one resolution for kindness towards each other, especially our fellow sisters. If you don’t know where to start, see my suggestions below.

Sister Tips:

  • Smile at a black woman – she might need it more than you know.
  • Encourage another black woman to keep up the good work – at the gym, on the job, with the kids, in her goals.
  • Pay a sister a compliment! If she looks fabulous, tell her! It doesn’t take anything away from you to pay a compliment!
  • Say HELLO! You don’t have to become best friends, but a hello or a good morning doesn’t hurt anyone.
  • Make eye contact and acknowledge a black woman – make sure she knows that you see her.
  • Stop bashing other black women, no matter what they look like, their size, their hair, and anything else that is different from you.
  • Don’t “hate” on another sister if she’s with a man and you’re not. If you’re focusing on your own self and your goals, you wouldn’t have time to worry about their relationship or the fact that they’re together. Be happy for them and wish them well…and mean it!
  • Celebrate a sister! Give her kudos and congratulations when she deserves it. Be inspired by her accomplishments and set some goals of your own.
  • Simply show some love to each other. Love is always enough and it’s always the answer.
  • Remember – Live your life and let others live theirs. When you decide that your own life is worthy of love and kindness, you will do the work to make that happen – you won’t have time or the inclination to be envious of someone else’s.

 

Photos: Courtesy of Stock Photos

Men Really Aren’t That Complicated

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The older I get, the more I’m convinced that men are very simple to understand. I’ve had my suspicions about this for a while, but now I’m sure of it. My conclusion did not come solely based on my experiences. As a matter of fact, if I had to base it on my history, I wouldn’t be writing this article. In preparation for this particular piece, I started doing the footwork several months ago. Over these past months, I’ve spoken with 40 men and asked them various questions about their likes, dislikes, relationships, and women in general. The ages of these men ranged from 35-54. I wanted to talk to younger men and mature men, married and single, black, white and hispanic.

I could not write an article about what men wanted without talking to men, right? Being around all those men and asking them personal questions was tough, but I made the sacrifice and did it for the betterment of manhood – so we women will appreciate you more – respect and love you more! Yes, I took one for the team and offered myself up to be the sounding board for men to women! Okay, I’m being funny. The truth is, I had a blast doing this! Most of these men I do not know personally, but I have made some new friends along the way. Many others I do know and have met either in person, on Facebook and even from my days on the dating sites.  In every case, the men were open, honest, funny and eager to share their thoughts and experiences.  (By the way, any of my male family members or friends who read this and think, “Hey, she didn’t ask me anything!,” don’t worry…I’ve got lots more “men” stuff coming that I’m going to need your help with, so look for me to contact you – and don’t blow me off when I do!)

After all the fun that I had meeting and talking with these terrific men, I learned a few things that interested me,  but much of what men said they wanted and needed from a relationship came as no surprise. One of my friends told me that basically all he needed was food, sex and a warm place to lay down at night. Now, of course, we laughed when he said this, but, after looking over and compiling all of the data that I acquired from these men, he wasn’t far from the truth. Needless to say, there are a few other ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ in between, but I got the message. Now I’m going to share it with you.

What are two qualities or characteristics that makes a woman sexy in your eyes?

  • While most men who I spoke with stated that a woman’s smile and eyes are two of the sexiest things about her, they also agreed that a happy and confident disposition is also a big turn on. Every single one of them admitted that they are initially attracted to a woman’s physical form, with an emphasis on breasts, butts, hips and legs (no surprise with this one).

“I love a woman’s eyes. They are the windows of her soul.” – William 54 (Washington, DC)

“I’m can’t lie, I like a big shapely booty! That drives me wild! That’s the first thing I’m looking at, then I want to check out everything else.” Don 38  (Brooklyn, NY)

                               “A woman with a beautiful smile will get my attention fast. But it’s her eyes that I really look at. They both can reel me in like a big fish.” – Ramon 46 (Miami, FL)

            “A big butt and her smile! Even if her butt is not that big, I’ll still fall for the smile.” Eddie 42 (Newark, NJ)

“Her smile and a cheery personality. There’s nothing sexier in a woman who is happy with herself!” Kyle 37 (Phoenix, AZ)

What do you think that most women don’t understand about most men?

“I really need my woman to tell me what is on her mind when I ask her. I’m not a mind reader and saying ‘nothing is wrong’ when something really is wrong, is just wrong. Talk to me and I will listen.” – Joe 45 (Atlanta, Ga)

“Women need to understand that men need to be needed. We need to know that you need us in your life. I hate it when a woman says ‘I don’t need a man.’  Why the hell are we here on the planet then?”  – Rocky 39 (Marietta, Ga.)

 “Look, I’m tired of running into women who hold me responsible for what their ex did. I’m not the one who hurt you and you’re not giving me a fair chance. Understand that he is not me.” – Carlos 43 (New York, NY)

   “Women need to understand that we men are ‘fixers’ by nature – we are innately problem solvers. If you tell us about a problem at work, sometimes it’s hard to just sit and listen and empathize with you without offering up a solution. That’s what we do. If you want sympathy and hand holding, talk to your girlfriends about the problem!” – David 53 (Houston, TX)

Women, y’all don’t understand that WE LOVE AND NEED SEX…OFTEN!  Don’t sex us up before the marriage and then dole it out like cough medicine only when I’m sick. I’m sick when I don’t get it! It is how we are wired – we need sex. It relieves stress and tension for us and sometimes that is the biggest way we may know to show you how much we love you.” – Shaun 47  (Bronx, NY)

“You women need to understand that we need to be able to just watch the game in peace! Save the conversation for later. If it’s not life or death, it can wait!”  Carl 40  (Atlanta, GA)

What turns you on before you even have sex with your wife or your woman?

“The fact that she really wants sex is a big turn on to me. I want to be with my woman all the time, but it’s always better when she really wants sex, too! I see her response to me and it either raises my manhood or it makes it makes it go down.” – Chris 35 (Alpharetta, GA)

                         “I like her to talk dirty to me all through the day. Send me dirty texts or even send a sexy picture of herself to my phone. Men are more visual than women and it turns us on to see you and hear you talking nasty to us. I’m ready by the time I get over to her house!”  – Brian 41 (Harlem, NY)

                                                     “Feed me! I love to eat and I love a woman who loves to cook! If she wants to turn me on, just cook me so good ole soul food – Fried chicken, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes,  collard greens, corn bread and peach cobbler – After I wake up from my nap, I’m ready to go!” –  Keith 51 (Raleigh, NC)

                “I just like to watch her on a regular day – around the house – in her sweats and t-shirt or with her hair undone or pulled back  and no make up at all. To me that is so sexy because she’s natural and more beautiful.” Raphael 34 (Orlando, FL)

What would you thank you wife/woman for?

“Thank you for being a woman and not trying to be the man. I’m enough man for both of us.” – Thomas 44 (San Diego, CA)

                “Thank you for being open to love again even after your ex hurt you so bad. You gave me a chance and now we’re getting married.” – Alex 39 (Chicago, IL)

                                                    “Thank you for continuing to take care of yourself even after all of these years. You exercise and eat right – and make me eat right – and you’re still as beautiful as when I first met you 8 years ago!” – Vince 49 (Decatur, GA)

“Although I don’t have a wife or a woman right now, If I did, I would thank her for being so patient and understanding with me. I’m a work in progress and I promise to do the same with her.” – Darrin 35 (Jacksonville, FL)

                    “I’m thanking my woman in advance for the head I’m gonna get later on tonight. That matters a lot! Thank you baby!!” – Rick 40 (Atlanta, GA)

Yeah, well we knew there was going to be at least one or two who would thank their women for sexual favors, right?  No surprise there either. Now I spoke with a lot more ment than I recorded individually here, but for purposes of space and time, I condensed it, which wasn’t hard to do. It was clear to me that the answers from all of the men didn’t deviate much, so compiling it together was easier than I thought It would be. The answers and responses on here pretty much reflected the sentiments of the majority of the men who I spoke with.

There is no generalization to the thoughts and opinions of men, every man is different. But instead of looking at the differences, I wanted to find out about the commonalities – the shared desires, needs, opinions and habits. This isn’t an in depth study about men – it wasn’t meant to be. I did it for fun and out of curiosity, and I wanted to give the men something to read when they come to my website! I don’t want it to feel completely like a chic site, ya know what I mean? And, equally as important, I wanted to share this information  with all of my sistas reading this, regardless of race. Because when it comes right down to it, men are men and they have more in common with each other than differences. In the end, men need to be needed, loved, appreciated, respected, fed and SEXED UP!  Get to work, ladies!

**Men, please take a moment and take the poll below. Your feedback is important to me. And leave comments, too! Thanks!

 

Photos: Courtesy of Stock Photos