The multihyphenate Queen Latifah has always been very open and honest about her weight loss journey. But for her, the real key to it all—beyond discipline and making a total lifestyle change—has been making sure she has the right community around her during her journey. This, in large part, is why she chose to become the face for It's Bigger Than Me—an inclusive obesity care initiative, which aims to help improve the future of healthcare for the obesity community by spotlighting the importance of inclusive, compassionate care, and calling upon healthcare providers to better manage overall health by working as a collaborative team.
According to recent studies, more than 40% of adults in the United States—that’s two out of every five—are living with obesity. Queen Latifah is helping tackle it head-on, and that starts by having an honest conversation about shame, bias, and stigma.
"Young me needed to figure out her body. And for quite some time my journey has been about my body and what feels good," Latifah shares. "Also, what happens when I'm not in the best place emotionally or self-esteem wise. This will always be a journey for me as long as I'm in this vessel. It has been tough at times, especially reading the snide comments from others. So now, I choose not to even read things in order to protect myself. And instead, I connect with others who think like me; that's why I got involved with the 'It's Bigger Than Me campaign'."
For many embarking to live healthier lives, they are often met with a lack of empathy and support—even from healthcare providers. This initiative aims to provide a safe space for all, and to help folks understand that they aren't alone.
"This is about changing a mentality and the stigmas related to obesity," she says. "Having to watch many people deal with obesity with little or no support, even from their doctors, I can't imagine how challenging that is. Inclusive obesity care is so important because people need to know they're walking into a safe environment that has compassion, and more importantly, one that is concerned about their healthcare. When it affects four out of five black women, that's a big deal. We just want to change what that looks like for the future. Hopefully there will be a day when it's not even a conversation, but not right now it is."
Let's be clear, this doesn't only affect women. Men also face struggles with weight loss. They, too, have been stigmatized or even teased by friends and family.
"It is not a character flaw if you are overweight. That does not make you a bad person; you should not be judged," Queen Latifah says to EBONY. "It's not just about a shape thing, healthy is what's important. Having some look is not what we're going for. We're going for health. How are your numbers looking, how do you feel inside, how can we work together to get you where you need to be in order to be healthy. As you do so, seek people on similar journeys so that you have that support around you."