Yvette Nicole Brown joins ‘It’s Bigger Than Me’ movement to address the obesity epidemic

"Community’" and "Act Your Age’" actress Yvette Nicole Brown opens up about her own journey with obesity and body positivity.

According to Yvette Nicole Brown, being body positive and being concerned about your weight are not mutually exclusive. 

March 8, the “Act Your Age” actress is launching a series of talks with the It’s Bigger Than Me movement to spread awareness about the fact that obesity, something many others in this country, including over 75 percent of Black people, live with, is a disease. Among her messaging is one important thought: caring about your weight isn’t inherently bad. 

Yvette Nicole Brown It's Bigger Than Me Black obesity theGrio.com
Yvette Nicole Brown is launching a series of talks on living with obesity for the It’s Bigger Than Me organization, dropping March 8. (Photo credit: It’s Bigger Than Me)

“Being focused on your health does not mean that you’re not body positive. I think it’s actually the most exemplary way that you can be body positive because you need your body to continue to live,” Brown said when chatting with theGrio about her upcoming It’s Bigger Than Me series.  

Brown said somewhere down the line, society at large developed the idea that if you’re being body positive, you can’t care about physical health. 

“Why can’t I think I’m fly and still get my numbers checked?” she added. 

Dispelling this misconception is just one part of the conversations she will host throughout her new series. The “Community” actress will also discuss with other celebrities the realities of living with obesity and how the disease can be managed. While addressing the issue is absolutely vital for America, the nation with the highest rates of obesity, it’s also personal for Brown. 

“I’ve been living with obesity my entire life. My weight has fluctuated a thousand different ways. Anyone that’s watched me on TV has seen it go up and go down and everywhere else,” she said, adding, “I was touched by the idea of obesity being a disease. I had never heard that before. I didn’t realize that that’s what it was.”

Brown’s story is just one of many. As a Black woman, she is a member of the demographic impacted most by this disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 79.6 percent of Black women in the U.S. have obesity. Poor access to healthy foods, lack of awareness about the disease, lifestyle, and heredity all play major roles in this ongoing epidemic facing our nation. Brown also suspects the way society has normalized the mistreatment of bigger bodies is another reason. 

“I think that obesity is one of the last diseases where it’s kind of OK to wisecrack, to make jokes and to point fingers and to blame the sufferer,” she said. 

She also got real about how the Black American cultural conversation specifically, albeit lovingly, enables the disease and many of its consequences. 

“We’re the main ones who talk about it like it’s just people, normal life. Someone gets diabetes, we say, “they just got a little sugar,”” she said, adding, “it’s bigger than that. It’s more important than that. We need to think of it as an actual disease and go to our doctors and figure out a holistic approach to dealing with the disease.” 

Brown said she was inspired to join the It’s Bigger Than Me organization when rapper and fellow actress Queen Latifah partnered with them last year to put on a series of panels across the country.

“I took part in one of the panels and I realized this is great. We need people to know more about this,” she said. 

Now, Brown is excited about her talks, which take place in online video format, to begin rolling out. She said they are humanizing conversations for those living with the disease of obesity and allow others to become better allies. 

“We share what it feels like to be that person that’s pointed out, or talked about or judged. We also teach those of us that are living with obesity how to be kinder to ourselves and to not be so hard on ourselves,” she said.

Ultimately, Brown said she hopes her series of talks help the world soften its heart in general and create space for those who need it most. 

“Listen, in general, I want all of us to be kinder to each other. As someone that has lived with obesity my entire life, I know what it feels like to feel invisible. I know what it feels like to be judged. I know what it feels like to judge myself,” she said, adding, “So it is my hope that on the other end of this, those of us that are walking this path will get to a point of acceptance and also the understanding that it is a disease, and that means there’s help.”

Kay Wicker is a lifestyle writer for theGrio covering health, wellness, travel, beauty, fashion, and the myriad ways Black people live and enjoy their lives. She has previously created content for magazines, newspapers, and digital brands. 

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