In today’s music industry, image can trump talent, and many of the top stars have had their struggles with weight, often facing public and industry scrutiny. As part of our Black Music Month coverage, we take a look at some of the top black songstresses and their weight journeys. — Janell Hazelwood (Additional reporting by Kahliah Laney
After becoming the spokesperson for Weight Watchers, singer Jennifer Hudson had what many thought was a drastic drop in weight, from a size 16 to 6. Reportedly, she was motivated by wanting to improve her health for the sake of her son and welcomed the improvement to her image. Her weight loss opened up her love for fashion and her aspirations to continue landing star roles, including playing Winnie Mandela, a film about the activist’s life to be release later this year. She is scheduled to write a book that centers around her weight-loss journey, due out January 2012.
Singer Marsha Ambrosius formerly of duet Floetry, dropped a reported 80 lbs since 2003, saying that initially the weightloss was due to stress after a family member’s death. She’s since taken a more healthy route, deciding to slim down with the Weight Watcher’s plan.
Singer Fantasia took to the American Idol stage a slim phenom from North Carolina and throughout her career has faced public and media scrutiny about her weight. She reportedly cited stress after professional and personal scandal as the cause for putting on extra pounds, and many got a glimpse into her issues via her reality TV show Fantasia For Real, watching as her management and family urged her to exercise to relieve stress and improve her image.
Soul singer and actress Jill Scott, who has always been confident about her curves, has gone up and down in weight since her major music industry debut in 2000. In some cases, she reportedly gained weight for Hollywood roles including those in Why Did I Get Married? and The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Still happy to embrace her curves, she’s always been an advocate of loving oneself — whether small, medium, or large– and her brand doesn’t seem to suffer, with sold-out arenas and hit records.
Kelly Price’s powerful voice was often featured on tracks of superstars including Diddy, Notorious B.I.G, and Ronald Isley, but she was often not seen in their videos. She’s admitted in recent interviews that her weight was a challenge when it came to being seen—not just heard— in the industry. Price’s weight has fluxuated throughout her career, with her having been size 12 to size 18. In an interview on The Wendy Williams Show, Price said she was motivated to make a change after witnessing family illness and death, and today she maintains healthy eating habits and regular exercise.
Singer Jordin Sparks, of American Idol fame, reportedly went from a size 14 to a size 8, and was happy to show off her new tight body via Twitpics and magazine spreads, from People to US magazines. She touts Zumba, the popular dance-infused fitness program, as what helped her slim down.