Queen Latifah recalls how she and her co-stars were told to lose weight for "Living Single".
American actress, singer, and rapper Queen Latifah, whose real name is Dana Elaine Owens, admitted that she experienced body-shaming in the past. She revealed that she was pressured to lose weight for the ’90s sitcom “Living Single”.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight in October 2021, the musician opened up about how the higher-ups told her that she should cut down some pounds for her role in the hit TV show. She recalled how she fought back despite the request that she and her co-stars received.
“I can remember specifically doing ‘Living Single,’ and the word came down that we needed to lose weight. Here we are, four different women, four different body types, and we needed to lose weight,” she said.
Queen Latifah said she was shocked by the demand, but she fought back for herself and co-stars Erika Alexander, Kim Coles, and Kim Fields. While she stood up and made a firm decision, she said that the request “angered and disheartened” her.
“I said, ‘We are what women look like. We’re not going to lose weight for whoever’s idea of what we’re supposed to look like,'” the rapper continues.
Queen Latifah says weight gain and obesity aren't always due to an unhealthy lifestyle – genetics is another factor.
The actress made it clear that those who gain weight don’t mean they’re living an unhealthy lifestyle. She wanted to remind everyone that, sometimes, it is because of genetics. She added that obesity is a health condition, and people shouldn’t be ashamed to discuss it with their doctors.
“A lot of us have had that [shame], so I just want people to know, it’s not your fault. It’s bigger than us, it’s bigger than you, it’s bigger than me,” Queen Latifah asserted.
The musician further said that many things are being openly discussed in the world now, including mental health. So, it would only make sense that we should openly tackle obesity. It is something that comes up, and there is nothing wrong with talking about it.
“I think obesity is always connected to a stigma, to shame. And what we want to do is just really educate people about what it really is, which is a health condition.”
She also noted that people could go on a “yo-yo diet,” which she has already done. The actress thought about her weight over and over, but she realized that some things were out of her control. She added that it took someone to teach her so she could understand it.
Queen Latifah partnered with the "It's Bigger Than Me" campaign to destigmatize obesity.
In the same interview with Entertainment Tonight, the actress mentioned that she teamed up with the “It’s Bigger Than Me” campaign so that people would understand more about obesity. She wanted them to join the conversations and not be ashamed to open up to public about the topic.
Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk creates the “It’s Bigger Than Me” campaign. One of its major goals is to destigmatize obesity through online resources and video series. Per the campaign’s website, it aims to “shatter the misconceptions surrounding obesity.”
“It’s Bigger Than Me” wants everyone to understand that genetics and biology play a role in obesity, as well as diet and other factors. It highlights what is needed for better care and compassion from family, friends, coworkers, strangers, and even doctors.
Queen Latifah said that her personal history of being shamed because of her weight is what inspired her to take part in the campaign. She endured a lot of struggles during her younger years, recalling she was the “biggest girl in the class” when she was in grade school.
Despite the bullying and body-shaming of others, the rapper said she’s thankful to have her late mother, Rita Owens, by her side. She said that she would always provide a loving hand, and she remembered her saying, “‘Love yourself regardless, love comes from the inside.'”
But did Queen Latifah go on a diet to lose weight?
In 2008, the actress became the Jenny Craig spokeswoman. The nutrition company promotes weight loss and weight management. She has since become vocal about her weight loss journey. She revealed that the program helped her lose 20 pounds, though she made it clear it’s not all about losing weight.
“This is not about losing weight; this is about health,” Queen Latifah told Good Morning America at the time. “It’s not an image thing. I’m really content with my body image.”
But while the rapper is working on destigmatizing obesity, she noted that she’s also open to transforming her body if needed for her character. She said that she’s contended with her body image, but she should embrace change as an actor.
“I’m an actor, so if I want to change something for a specific character—some characters, I think, need to be bigger and fuller, more voluptuous. Some characters, I think, need to be more fit, not fit in terms of health, but fit in terms of muscle tone. And so I work to do that.”
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Talking about Hollywood seemingly skipping middle-aged actresses, Queen Latifah said she doesn’t buy into that. She feels good and sexy about her body, noting, “my body’s right and my swag is on, you know. I’m feeling myself.”
She further continues that she will work on being a little obese and will keep checking on it. She believes that everyone is a naturally beautiful, sexual creature. She added that she’s proud and grateful for working on her projects.
Right now, the musician is focused on her confidence – no matter her size and shape. Although she admitted that there were times her weight could get to her, she constantly reminded herself to remain positive and that she should prioritize self-care.
She is also working on the CBS crime drama, “The Equalizer”. The series, which is currently on its second installment, has already been renewed until season 4. Hence, viewers will see more of the actress who plays the lead role of enigmatic woman Robyn McCall.