(Fat. Ugly. Big & Uncomfortable)

by Jarold Imes
Urban Book Source
March 2006

After watching the D’Angelo “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” video, the thought first appealed to me, I should become a stripper. I found new motivation to hit the gym, lift weights. I wanted to make sure my body was cut just like that… or at least like Michael Jordan, Tyson Beckford or even Usher. I realized then that I need more than talent to get ahead in the industry. I went to college and immediately started working on my vision. I had achieved the body I was building for one week… then I lost it. The “Freshman 15” as they called it decided that my 5’10, 145lb was too skinny so it kept going until I was 190lbs. By time I released A Walk in my Shoes (which I would later change to Never Too Much), I had become F.U.B.U… fat, ugly, big and uncomfortable.

I watched as other authors came out in 2001, many had held jobs in corporate America while I was trying to be the next Russell Simmons or Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, the young successful entrepreneurs who would start their entertainment empires while attending prestigious colleges and universities. While every other author who came out or got on their feet during that time were receiving praises and accolades for their work, I was getting shunned. Every critic in America hated me and my work. The fact that some of the authors were starting to be hailed as sex symbols further let me know that the weight I had gained had to go. Being as big as Luther, Gerald LeVert, Ruben Studdard or even Heavy D was not going to get me anywhere in this industry. They were the exception to the rule and clearly the exception was not going to be extended to include me.

I didn’t take many publicity photos for my next book, The Rhyme, The Story N Me. The collection of gritty street tales did the job I set out to do, raise money for the reprint of the novel I was passionate about, Never Too Much. I was 190 something then and still uncomfortable about my weight. The push ups quit pushing up; the weights weren’t holding up their end of the bargain. My diet died… heredity had gotten the best of me as it seemed that I was destined to be 190 something and over forever.

I contemplated trying different drugs that promised to take inches off my weight. My esteem was already shot so as I ghost wrote for others and sort of shared in the acclaim they got, I worked with different trainers so I could lose the weight.

Then in the summer of 2002, something magical happened…. I lost twenty something pounds. Not what I wanted, but I was content to stay at 172. I had just finished my second ghost writing project while starting Hold on Be Strong (which was then known as So Many Tears). I felt a little better about myself and while I still couldn’t take my shirt off, I looked good enough to take mug shot pictures, so that’s what I did. I couldn’t get the model I wanted for the cover of my book so I did it myself. My photographer and I strategically took pictures around A&T that would make it look like I was in the projects and in jail. And that is where the battles with my weight and my image kept me… imprisoned behind ideas and opinions and ashamed that I didn’t fit the acceptable image of what a black man is supposed to look like. Nevertheless, the ../images came out just the way I wanted, so good that I used them for three years.

During those three years, I was a reincarnation of Luther Vandross. One minute I was 176 lbs, the next I was 212 lbs, then I got down to 200 lbs… flip flopping back and forth. Fighting what my genes destined me to be. Each year I watched as more and more authors were showing off their muscles, revealing their abs, basking in their “pretty boy” faces. Each year, I watched as more and more authors were able to get ahead with the aid of their looks, becoming amateur models, some even landing deals with upstart or established lines.

So my dreams of becoming the writer/stripper were deferred permanently. I would never be Author Eye candy and I had finally got to a point to where I could accept that. So I did what most overweight brothas in this industry who couldn’t get respect at their craft did, I learned as much about the business as possible. I continued to write ghost projects, one of which has received critical acclaim; I edited other people’s projects, some of which I did anonymously; I worked in a book store. My determination to stay in this industry was not build on my looks initially, however, I determined that my looks (or lack thereof) would play a major part of some of the success I would or could not enjoy. In spite of this, it is my passion for writing that keeps me pushing out book after book. Now, when D’Angelo asks “How Does It Feel” I can look at myself and be glad that I have my health. I can be thankful that all I am is overweight. Most importantly, even after four failed attempts to end my life, I came to learn that looks come and go, but my pen would last for as long as the Lord allowed.

Jarold Imes is a contributing writer for The Urban Book Source and author of Hold on Be Strong; he is the creator of online soap opera: Hold on Be Strong (www.holdonbestrong.com), send emails to:jaroldimes@yahoo.com

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Erick Gray :
Posted 3332 days ago
Good article, Jarold. I know i'm three years late, but better late than never....but as an Author myself, I do believe that sex appeal does sell books--sometimes, just like sex sells music for some artists. I remember when dropped my first book, Booty Call and I was nervous of the reaction I would recieve...like yourself, I never would put my picture on the back of a book, I chose to be a mystery. I was about 210 when that book dropped, and I came into the business with the long braids and abs, and constantly worked out, and had some insercurites about myself. But let me tell you something Jarold, just because a author has a nice body and a pretty face, it don't mean shit if he/she doesn't have character and a personaility. He or she could be fine, but if you don't know how to talk to your readers and sell yourself, then you're just as ugly and fat. Jarold, in the bussiness, it's not always about looks, but who your are and how you present yourself...beauty and character is within...and your personality and talents will win over other than that author who tries to move ahead on just looks alone
Scotty Rock :
Posted 4054 days ago
Some of this authors are big fat and ugly. That's why they can only write about the things they wish they could do or have...sad reality, but face it.



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