Despite obesity being pervasive among Americans, it's often a topic shrouded in shame and misinformation.
Queen Latifah and pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk are ready to change the conversation.
It’s Bigger Than Me is a campaign that aims to destigmatize obesity with videos and online resources. The campaign features four short PSAs inspired by roles throughout Latifah’s career.
Diagnosis Stigma stars Latifah as a doctor trying to save the life of a patient who suffers from the stigma of obesity. In Body Talk, Latifah has a candid conversation about weight with a friend, reminiscent of her "Living Single" sitcom days.
SIU: Shame Investigation Unit features Latifah as a smooth-talking cop questioning a witness, who blames herself for her weight. Finally, Let’s Talk stars Latifah encouraging people to treat obesity as a health condition, not the result of laziness.
Latifah wanted to partner with Novo Nordisk on the campaign because she was once misinformed about the definition of obesity.
“I fell into the category of obesity, and it took a trainer to educate me about what it was when I was trying to lose weight for a project,” Latifah told Campaign US. “He said, ‘OK, well, here's where you are. And this falls into the category of obesity.’ I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I'm obese.’ And I'm thinking, ‘Oh, wow. So, what can I do about it?’”
Latifah worked with director Chris Robinson on the project, who came up with a creative way to “tell the story of stigma, shame and the societal impact around obesity,” said Latifah.
“[The PSAs] perhaps would give someone who thought of their own family member or themselves in a certain way, or [someone who was] shaming somebody, or didn't check in on their own health a different way to look at it,” she added.
According to the World Health Organization, obesity is defined as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.” It’s measured by a Body Mass Index (BMI) percentage of 30% or more.
Some studies suggest that genetics contribute 40% to 70% of individuals' differences in BMI. According to Novo Nordisk, obesity is also linked to at least 60 health conditions.
Latifah hopes “It’s Bigger Than Me” will motivate people to educate themselves about obesity and remove the shame and stigma surrounding it — which she has personally felt in her career.
“As someone who has [been told], ‘You need to lose some weight’ on certain shows that I'm doing, who's been affected by the shame and the stigma of the word obesity, I want it to be a part of changing that narrative to make sure people know it's not your fault,” she said.
This story first appeared on campaignlive.com.