Queen Latifah Says a Trainer Called Her ‘Obese,’ and It Pissed Her Off

UPDATE Tuesday, June 7 6:30 P.M.: Jeanette Jenkins, a trainer and health coach who says she worked with Queen Latifah, tells Glamour in a statement: “I did not measure Queen Latifah’s BMI. I do not use BMI charts. Those charts are based on your height to weight ratio, and they do not provide enough information. I measured her body fat percentage using two methods: bioelectrical impedance and with calipers. Body fat percentage is not the same as BMI. I then told her that she was over 36% body fat, which is in the obese category and the amount of body fat she carried at that time put a stress on her heart and increased her risk of heart disease. These are scientific facts backed by research from the CDC. Heart disease is the number one killer worldwide and when you are in the overweight or obese category for body fat percentage you increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and the list goes on. The clips on the Red Table Talk do not reflect the truth of the actual fitness assessment I conducted.”

Original post: Rapper, producer, singer, and actor Queen Latifah (in the running for the greatest talent in a generation—argue with the wall) recently recalled her reaction to being labeled “obese” by a trainer, and opened up an important conversation about the merit (or lack thereof) of the BMI.

On Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook series Red Table Talk, Latifah recounted the story of working with a new trainer, whose initial assessment of Latifah’s body didn’t match her own.

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“I hooked up with a trainer,” the Oscar nominee said. “She has degrees. And she’s scientific and mathematic. She was showing me different body types, and she’s like, ‘This is what your BMI is, this is what your weight is, and you fall into this category of obesity.’ So I was mad at that. It pissed me off. I was like, ‘What? Me? I mean, I’m just thick!’ [The trainer] said, ‘You are 30% over where you should be.’ And I’m like, ‘Obesity?’”

It’s important to note here—and per People, as the women of Red Table Talk do—that BMI, or body mass index, which measures a person’s height-to-weight ratio, is useful for surveying populations at best, and when applied to individuals, especially Black people, it offers basically no helpful health information. For details on why the BMI, bluntly, sucks butt, I highly recommend the BMI episode of the podcast Maintenance Phase. TL;DR: Size is not health, say that a million times.

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