We have the media to thank for becoming more accustomed to vastly rigid and invariable standards of beauty. So when we see successful celebrities who don’t fit the standard of appeal exuberantly portraying self confidence and self love we tend to root for them. Gabourey Sidibe, the “Precious” Oscar nominated break out star is a prime example. When you see her in interviews or on the red carpet she hardly depicts that she’s worried about her size. But shouldn’t she be?

A few weeks ago, stand-up comedian and actor Patrice O’Neal died at age 41 from complications of a stroke he suffered back in October. O’Neal was known for his struggle with diabetes and weight issues and his challenges were often depicted in his work. The Comedy Central regular is just one of many who have died at an early age due to weight related ailments.

The prideful overweight rapper, Fat Joe who was diabetic for 16 years and once weighed 460 pounds is now on a journey to lose weight. The heart attack induced death of fellow MC and close friend Big Pun who weighed 780 pounds at the time of his passing heavily affected the Bronx born MC .

Joe recently told CNN that he just witnessed six of his friends who were all around his weight die of heart attacks.

“I always took pride in being fat. That’s why my name is Fat Joe. And I always represented for the big people. But I realized at a certain point all my big people were dying,” he explained to CNN’s Sanjay Gupta.

He’s now working out at the gym and eating healthier foods, which has caused him to lose 100 pounds. Although, he’s dropping the weight Fat Joe says he has no intention on dropping his name.

Jennifer Hudson has recently received a lot of criticism for losing weight and endorsing Weight Watchers but, doing so has made her a much healthier person. In the black community we love to accept our curves and celebrate them but, accepting and celebrating being unhealthy is more than problematic.

We have to learn where to draw the line. When self acceptance turns into accepting being unhealthy it’s like accepting an early death sentence. It’s great to see people in Hollywood who don’t fit the typical body type but, when those people are unhealthy the images become dangerous. It’s a very fine line to cross.

Although, self esteem at any size is beautiful and should be applauded being overly confident while being unhealthy could send out the wrong message. One should always be comfortable in their own skin but, when that skin houses layers of fat that could possibly cause diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, a stroke, or a heart attack there’s a problem. So how can overtly confident and overweight celebrities embrace self love and self acceptance without promoting unhealthy lifestyles?

  • Admittance – Admit that being overweight is unhealthy and admit where exactly your issues lie. Patrice O’Neal often talked about his weight issues during his stand-up comedy shows.
  • Take a Pledge- Take a pledge to live healthy and not just to fit Hollywood’s standards of beauty. Do it to live!
  • Share- Share the journey of your new healthy lifestyle if you choose to change. Fat Joe is now sharing his healthier lifestyle with the world. Believe it or not people are watching.
  • Continue Confidence- Continue to be just as confident as you were overweight while losing the weight. Don’t be afraid to talk about the struggles during interviews.
  • Know and explain the Difference- Know the difference between losing weight to be healthy vs. losing weight just to fit a standard. Being healthy goes beyond just trying to fit the typical Hollywood standard of beauty.
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  1. Beautiful article. I think we draw the line at “unhealthy”.

  2. Hollywood’s standard of beauty is not healthy either. These celebrities are skin and bones. A lot of celebrities are badly hooked on drugs just so they can remain small/deal with the overbearing standards not to mention these anorexic models.

  3. This is a great article and goes with the blog I wrote yesterday entitled: Power in Numbers! As Black women we have never been considered “pretty” by mainstream media standards so we needed to create our own image…and unfortunately “big, black, and beautiful” became our mantra…with the emphasis on BIG. No one needs to be a stick figure but when our rate of obesity is double that of any other groups we need to find healthy practices that will help us remain “healthy, black and beautiful”!

  4. Thank you for this article. The denial in our community runs so deep. We’re quick to place blame on not wanting to look like the standard of beauty- but there is a place between sickly thin and accepting that it’s okay to be 30lbs overweight. This is not just a race issue however, it’s a socioeconomic one. Fat is the new poor. The dividing line between thin/wealthy and fat/poor is growing. This is happening all over the country. We need to demand green markets in every neighborhood- take soda and Snapple machines out of schools and teach our children (and many parents) how to eat and how to work out. It’s truly a matter of survival. “Be Peaceful, Eat Whole, Walk Far”.

  5. It’s a fine line to walk. I am plus sized. Not slightly chubby, but size 26 big girl. I frequent plus sized blogs and websites that focus on plus sized fashion & beauty. On the other hand I also watch what I eat, keep a food diary, and go to the gym regularly. I am not ashamed of my size, but I realize I have to be healthy and honestly work at maintaining good health. Often people seem to think the 2 don’t necessarily go together. The bottom line for me is I want to be the best I can and feel the best I can. I’m not going to indulge in self hate, being female & black I get enough of that already from the outside world. For me loving myself means not only loving my curves, but loving myself enough to take care of me. My health and wellness journey may indeed result in a slimmer me, but more importantly it will result in a healthier me.

  6. “When you see her in interviews or on the red carpet she hardly depicts that she’s worried about her size. But shouldn’t she be?”

    Is her presence alone promoting an unhealthy lifestyle? The fact that she smiles, looks happy, is that driving you crazy? Is that your claim?

    What exactly do you want Gabourey to do? Appear contrite and sad in public? Talk about her weight in every interview, discussing how embarrassing and humiliating it is her for to have this body? Cover her face in shame and hide her body in garbage bag? Walk around embarrassed and apologize to the cameras profusely for having the audacity of showing her fat ass in public?

    Do you really think those steps you wrote works for everyone? Yeah, that exactly what Gabby needs – the media scrutiny on her weight loss – as if she hasn’t received enough scrutiny and vitriol from the world.

    She doesn’t owe you or anyone else anything. Whatever she decides to do, she will do it in her own time, at her own pace and schedule. She’s not required to do it tomorrow or make a media circus out of it.

    • krianne thomasson

      she owes it to the people that look up to her to live a healthy lifestyle. even Monique (who is still not the skinniest woman in hollywood), Queen Latifa, Crystal Renn or even America Ferrera! None of these women are small at ALL but they promote healthy lifestyles for the people that look up to them and follow them (cause wanted or not when you become a celebrity you get followers, of ALL ages and it is important to project a healthy image cause you never know who you are influencing)

      • @krianne thomasson: She doesn’t owe it to the public anymore than Lindsey Lohan or Angelina Jolie. We know what is healthy size and what isn’t, and I’m sure SHE knows that as well.

        I’m not interested in weepy blogposts from her on eating an apple and drinking green tea at 7pm and struggling with hunger pangs for the rest of night, or the battle of getting up at 5 am to exercise. I don’t want to see her weekly weigh-ins and public embarrassment of that bad week when you go up a pound, or her tracking her BP pressure. I don’t need to see her breaking down on Ellen or Rosie about her diet woes and self-image. Is that what YOU need to feel better about yourself, to motivate you to lose weight?

        Its REFRESHING to finally have a celebrity not feeling the need put all that out there for OUR SICK CONSUMPTION and AMUSEMENT, to make those of us smaller than her FEEL BETTER ABOUT OURSELVES. She does not owe us that.

        LAUGH and ENJOY LIFE, Gabby. Smile, dance, smile some more. Maybe one day we’ll look up and go, “Wow, girl, have you been dieting? We can tell you lost weight and look great!” But do it behind the scenes, in your own time when you’re ready.

        • @Mikela123: “I’m not interested in weepy blogposts from her on eating an apple and drinking green tea at 7pm and struggling with hunger pangs for the rest of night, or the battle of getting up at 5 am to exercise.”…

          I don’t think krianne thomasson meant that Gabby needs to go hungry, but that she is basically heading in the same direction Big Pun & Patrice went. Seriously, she needs to take a serious look at herself and realize that it is NOT ok to look like that. No matter how old she is or WHO she is. Gabby, and many other people who don’t eat in a sensible manner & are grossly overweight, need to recognize that being unhealthy is NOT ok. They need to hear this! I’m so tired of people sugar-coating their unhealthy life-style with a phoney smile and believing that it’s fine! NO, IT IS NOT!!!! Mo’nique got the memo. People need to be told the truth! Smiling is NOT going to help her dodge a heart attack or a diabetic stroke!

          Eat healthier foods, don’t eat too much (or too late), recognize that when you don’t feel hungry as you eat that that means you need to STOP eating, & move your body/physical exercise.

          Once again, her beautiful smile isn’t going to SAVE her LIFE. Now, I’m not saying that she should stop her smiling and be sad & self-conscious about herself, but that she needs to be healthy and lose weight. That’s all. All posts with “it’s ok” gets on my nerves! You all need to cut it out & be real.

          • @Jo-Ann: You have no business telling anyone that something is wrong with their body. It does not help; it’s only hurtful. People who are overweight have a huge amount of pressure on us to fit in. Weight loss is not easy or simple; it’s not a matter of “calorie in, calorie out” because everyone has different body chemistry and composition. Not even medical experts completely understand why some people struggle with obesity and others eat whatever they want and stay skinny. I’m not saying that Gabby should or shouldn’t change; that’s on her. Maybe she does eat healthy food and exercise. You don’t know her life.

        • @Mikela123: (continued) She’ll appreciate her life more, if & when she learns to live it in a healthier manner.

      • @krianne thomasson:
        Actually, Crystal Renn is very small now. She’s about a size 6 maybe 8 at largest. She’s lost a lot of weight.

    • @Mikela123:

      I completely agree. Gabby should be able to be seen in public without being sad or ashamed. Not sure what is the author’s point. Gabby knows she’s fat and needs to lose weight but I LOVE the way she doesn’t do the circuit obsessing weight. Yes she needs to lose weight, but in the mean time keep smiling and loving yourself. Don’t hide.

  7. That’s a great quote from Fat Joe, but let’s not pretend that body images are the only unhealthy behaviors that star engage in.

    The reason T.I.’s show is on is because he can’t leave “Molly” alone, as well as Rick Ross, who loves Molly so much he had 3 seizures.

    And let’s not even pretend that eating disorders aren’t encouraged by executives.

    Entertainers take pride in whatever the culture deems acceptable, so that means if Mary J. Blige and 50 Cent take steroids to keep their bodies in shape, if they don’t caught, they will do it …

  8. Gabby knows more than anyone she needs to lose weight. But she also knows that her checks are tied to her image. What do really expect her to do? Lose weight like J HUD, who I guarantee will never see the success she had when she was fat.

    Like it or not, but America likes their blacks (copyright Ann Coulter) a certain way. If you’re going to be sexy, you better look like a Halle Berry or white girl dipped in chocolate — basically, small noses, full (not big) lips and a smallish frame with decent curves.

    Other than that every black woman better fit some stereotypical version of blackness. Either NeNe and Tasha Smith loud or Gabby and Oprah “mammy” fat. Tragic mulattoes always work, but they are forced to transcend their blackness to get a check I.e Rashida Jones and Maya Rudolph.

    So it is what it is. Until we find large enough and powerful mediums to showcase our wide range of talent and beauty, it is what it is.

    You can’t blame Gabby for trying to get a check in a recession and depression for. Lack actors

  9. Listen, we need to start losing weight to be healthy, never mind living up to Hollywood standards because they change like the wind. No one but you can make the change to be healthy so we can live long lives like our ancestors who ate from the ground and breathed in fresh air and walked everywhere. If we can only imitate some of those notions we can succeed.

  10. krianne thomasson

    i believe that the people posting negative comments on this article are not completely understanding the point behind it. it is not saying that people of massive sizes should hold their heads down in shame because of their weight but rather embrace confidence in leading a healthy lifestyle. If weight loss occurs (which is bound to happen once you start eating healthier) then so be it. If you are big and eating healthy then you are healthy (their are such things as good fats and bad fats, bad fats stick to your organs and causes lack of lubrication and adds extensive amount of weight which succumbs them to work way harder than normal it also compresses your lungs causing improper breathing patterns or even making your breathing stop (sleep aphneia or asthma) it also more susceptible to hide cancers and tumors in the body. healthy fat however burns more easily seeing as it provides proper nutrients to fuel your body and it is actually lighter than bad fats. they also contain oils which doesnt hurt but actually helps the lubrication of your organs.) so you see you can be big and still be healthy and unfortunately in hollywood people get either glorified for being skinny or get pity attention for being unnaturally fat (which accept it or not, that is actually what people the size of Gabreal are getting, pity attention for having the bravery to be a walking heart attack and be proud of it). you dont see women with in between sizes getting NEARLY as much attention as these two category of people get. via Jennifer Hudson, Takara Mills, Raven Symone, or even Tyra Banks

  11. dear Krianne the article did take an unfair entiely presumptious dig at Gabourey
    “When you see her in interviews or on the red carpet she hardly depicts that she’s worried about her size. But shouldn’t she be?”

    Wow. Mean much? Why should she depict that shes worried abut her weight when she in public for a purpose… promoting a film, supporting an event, giving an interview etc…. Why? And what does why shouldnt she be mean? Are you in her head? are you in her life? Does not losing weight mean she isnt worried?
    Why do you feel she owes it us to point herself out as a cautionary tale when shes out in public? We can see she is overweight. The meanness in this article is very casual but no less mean. Im sure her size could be alluded to without passing judgement.

  12. I think it would be beneficial if the author would look into the HAES (Health at Every Size) movement.
    It is about eating well and getting exercise, while realizing people of different sizes, even very big ones, can be healthy and simply because a fat people starts to change their diet and movement they may not ever really become “thin” or lose a considerable amount of weight.

    And personally it’s tiring seeing people making judgment calls on people’s health just because of the way they look. Is Gabby very fat, yes? Is Gabby one meer day away from dead, no? You don’t know that, nobody knows that but herself and her doctor. Trying to compare Fat Joe, Patrice O’ Neal and Gabby together makes no sense. Just because they are all fat, does not mean they’re lifestyles were all the same.

    It’s a sort of doublethink to say people should feel confident at any size, but want them to think that they are unhealthy or that they should change the way they look is it not.

    Just as you think Gabourey is unhealthy based on the number of her weight and the way she looks, it’s wrong to assume to think Jennifer Hudson is automatically healthy just because she is now thin.

    Whether Gabourey, Fat Joe, or Jennifer Hudson are healthy or not is really none of our business nor do they own being healthy to anyone.

  13. And this notion that bigger is better in the black community is simply not true. When black men talk about their love of curves, it usually mean a woman with a big butt and hips, not a big woman overall. Just because their are more cases of fat in black women does not mean that it is preferred by black men.

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