Queen Latifah, Obesity Diagnosis And The Racial Bias Behind It

On the latest episode of Red Table TalkQueen Latifah recalled the time a personal trainer referred to her as obese.

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The Equalizer star recently began working out with a new trainer who she described as “scientific and mathematical.” The trainer introduced Queen Latifah to body-focused health charts, including one on Body Mass Index (BMI).

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“She’s showing me different body types, and she’s telling me, ‘This is what your BMI is, this is what your weight is, and you fall into this category of obesity,'” Queen Latifah said.

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“I was mad at that. It pissed me off. I was like, ‘What? Me?’ I mean, I’m just thick. She said you are 30% over where you should be. And I’m like, ‘Obesity?'”

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As she continued her discussion with Jada Pinkett Smith about BMI and how the “ideal” measurements are based on the body of a white European man in the mid-19th century, they realized the test doesn’t take into account a person’s ethnicity, gender , or health history.

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But research has shown that an “obese” BMI — 30 and over — isn’t the same for everyone.

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According to People, “A large 2003 study found that higher BMIs are not unhealthy for Black people, and Black women in particular do not see an increased mortality risk until they reach a BMI of 37. Yet, based on BMI, doctors often diagnose them with obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, and stigmatize them for being overweight.”

But that wasn’t the first or last time her weight would be called into question. Queen Latifah also revealed she and the other female cast members on Living Single were asked to lose weight.

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Queen Latifah has worked hard to end the stigma around obesity, telling People, “We need to change the conversation. We need to change the culture, we need to change the stigma that’s involved in it.”

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“Let’s just get real with it. And then let’s back it up with some information that can empower you to do something about it or change your mentality about it.”

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I love that she’s pushing this conversation to the frontlines in Hollywood, because there’s always been a misconception about your body size equating to good health.

To learn more about Queen Latifah, be sure to check out her full Red Table Talk episode when it airs on June 8 at 12 pm ET on Facebook Watch.

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