Queen Latifah, the actress, and hip-hop star, first learned about the term obesity when she heard it from her personal trainer. Working with the trainer for a movie shoot, her trainer mentioned that she fell into the category of obesity. She recalls her disbelief. “I thought obesity meant you had to be 400-500 pounds”!
According to the World Health Organization, 39% of people worldwide are considered obese, which is defined as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health”.
From a young age, weight was a concern for Latifah (born Dana Elaine Ownes). “I was big for my size”, she comments. “I was the tallest girl in my class.” She admits to “self-hate” and feeling “more conscious” of her body as a teen.
Latifah credits her mom, Rita Owens, for being her biggest supporter. She says her mother talked her through “years of uncertainty” about her body. This was especially helpful in the wake of Hollywood pressures.
“As you hit puberty, people start looking at you in a different way”, she says. “And people can be mean”.
In the same vein, she faced frustration in Hollywood with stylists who couldn’t find fashions that worked for her body type. She finally credits designers Escada and Mischka for being able to “embrace her curves”.
With a family history of diabetes, Latifah makes sure to check in with her doctor. “I’m probably healthier than some people half my size. I’m always working to become a better me”.