After years of insecurity surrounding her weight, Queen Latifah made the simple decision to love herself. Now she’s helping anyone experiencing obesity do the same.
The actress and musician is the face of the new “It’s Bigger Than Me” campaign, which aims to end the stigma around the obesity epidemic. The initiative provides online resources and a video series starring Latifah to change how we talk about obesity.
“I’ve experienced being judged by others because of my weight,” Latifah says in a video from the campaign. “I know the effect it can have on you. But I never let that stop me, and neither should you. Living with obesity isn’t about a lack of will power. It’s not a character flaw. It’s bigger than that.”
More than 40% of adults in the United States are living with obesity. That means 2 out of every 5 people in America have a Body Mass Index (BMI), the metric that defines obesity, of 30 or above. But empathy surrounding the condition isn’t as widespread, and often leads to judgment.
“Obesity is a health condition,” Latifah says in the video. “It can make you feel like it’s your fault, but it’s actually because of your biology. And unfortunately, people may react with stigma and bias instead of empathy. All of this makes you think that you’re alone and can’t get help — but you can.”
Latifah’s goal is to start a conversation with the campaign. She opened up about her own change in mindset in a new interview with People Magazine, where she explained how she forced herself to make a change after experiencing “self-hate” in her teens.
“I said, ‘You’re either going to hate yourself, or you’re going love yourself.’ And I decided at that moment I’m going to love myself,” Latifah said. “I don’t want to ever be in a place where I don’t love me.”
Still, it’s a constant struggle for Latifah — but she doesn’t intend on giving up.
“Life has valleys and its peaks,” she said. “I’m always trying to work towards becoming a better me.”
Head to itsbiggerthanme.com to learn more.