Queen Latifah Opens Up About Weight-Related Stigma on Red Table Talk

Queen Latifah was gorgeous at the Oscars 2013 by Clotee Pridgen Allochuku CC BY 2.0 / Mike Coppola

On June 8’s “Red Table Talk,” Queen Latifah opens up about weight-related stigma in society. From the looks of the episode, Latifah’s own experiences have been varied and at times brutal.

At one point, “Red Table Talk” host Jada Pinkett Smith asked Latifah if she felt “any kind of scrutiny” while starring on the super-popular 1990s show “Living Single,” and the rapper, actor, and singer said yes. The actor recalled that she and her costars loved being able to represent different women living in Brooklyn at that time – “four different women, four different shades, four different types,” as she put it. But one day, “The word came down that we needed to lose weight,” she noted. “We’re on the number one show among Black and Latino households in America and you’re telling us we need to lose weight. Maybe you’re the one with the problem.”

She continued: “We’re also taught these ideas of beauty, you know – this is what you’re supposed to look like. But when you have these pictures painted for you and it’s implanted over generations, that’s the problem.”

Latifah went on to tell hosts Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris that she’s had trouble finding designers who were creating clothes her size. “It’s like, if I was a size 24 and I have style, I still want to rock what the size 2 is wearing. But the designers are like, no, we’re going to stop right here,” she said. “OK, have you checked the stats on the sizes of the people in the country? I think you might want to make some clothes in this size. What’s the problem, don’t you get it? No, you don’t want to get it, you don’t want us to look like this . . . You don’t want us to live this fullness.”

She also described having trouble finding a sports bra that was supportive enough when she wanted to play basketball. “Those things affect you,” Latifah said. “Telling someone, ‘Oh you’re too big to play that’ . . . it crushes people.”

Despite these past experiences, Latifah believes things can, and are, changing. She and the “Red Table Talk” hosts called out celebs including Lizzo and Rihanna for what they’ve done to change how we talk about body type. And conversations like the one that took place around the red table help, too. Latifah’s openness about the weight-related bias she’s experienced as a Black woman is powerful; the more we have open conversations about the stigmas that exist, the more empowered we’ll be to break them down.

You can watch the full “Red Table Talk” on Facebook Watch.

– Additional reporting by Mirel Zaman

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