Jennifer Hudson is on the cover of Self Magazine’s September issue, for an interview in which she opens about losing more than 80 pounds.
Hudson has long been an icon for black women wrestling with body image questions in a celebrity culture that values slim (white?) bodies. In February, Hudson, now a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, sat down with another black woman who’s also had a very public discussion over her body, her health and her self-image. Hudson told Oprah Winfrey that she’d gone from a size 16 to a size 6.
Bodies and body images are difficult subjects in any community, but particularly among black women, whose bodies have been proxies for racist ideas about beauty for centuries. So whether Hudson’s public discussion of her private choices represents an unhealthy capitulation to image-policing or a healthy example of how to control your body is a hotly debated topic. Here are some snippets of what she had to say about it:
What made her decide to lose weight?
“It really started when I was pregnant with David, who’s 2 now, and I thought, Hold on—why doesn’t anybody know I’m pregnant? And I wanted to set a good example for my son. Right after I had him, I began trying to change things.”
On how her body has been treated in Hollywood:
“I remember one of my first times on a red carpet, an interviewer asked, ‘How does it feel to be plus-sized in Hollywood?’ I looked around, like, Who is she talking to? Oh, me? I’m plus-sized? In the neighborhood I’m from in Chicago, a 16 is normal. But in Hollywood, everyone looks exactly the same, so I stood out.”
What she thought when Hollywood told her she was overweight:
“I like my curves, so it didn’t bother me. My fiancé, David’s father [also named David], and I both knew we didn’t learn to eat right and be healthy as kids, so we wanted to for him.”
What her fans think about her weightloss:
“Some love it and say they’re inspired, and others don’t. Some have even questioned whether I can still sing. My voice has gotten stronger! I can’t care about whether I’m too big for some or too small for others. It goes back to how you feel about yourself. I like me the way I am. For anyone who wants to lose: Dude, if I can do it, you can do it. And for those who want to stay the same, I hope I can be an example to you, too; I was proud of being a big girl.”