Yvette Nicole Brown: ‘Reframe the way we talk about bodies. We are more than the shell’

Yvette Nicole Brown spoke to Yahoo for their It Figures body image series. I like It Figures because they take a different approach to body image. Like the points that Yvette brings up in her discussion. When she was diagnosed with diabetes, Yvette and her doctor looked at weight loss as part of her treatment. In 2014, she began losing weight to manage her diabetes and has been very successful in keeping her numbers normal as a result. But because she’s an actress, most people assumed her slimmer figure was for vanity. That’s the thinking that Yvette wants to change. She wants people to think about bodies in relation to health rather than shape, because that’s what’s more important.

Yvette Nicole Brown made headlines in 2014 when outlets started to cover her weight loss as she began to appear publicly in a smaller body. Despite the attention that it garnered, the actress maintains that the change was never about her appearance.

“I am not a vain person, I never have been. So my weight loss was really about health,” she tells Yahoo Life. “It was interesting when I would get on the red carpet and people would go, ‘Well, how much have you lost?’ And I would go, ‘I don’t know how much I lost. But I know my A1C numbers are amazing,'” she says, referring to numbers that measure diabetes, something Brown has openly battled. “Because that’s what it’s about.”

“I know that I’m in an industry that focuses on the waist size and pant size and whatever, but I don’t have to participate. And I’ve chosen not to participate,” Brown says. “I think that it’s important that we reframe the way we talk to people and allow people to talk to us about our bodies. We are more than the shell.”

“The greatest thing is that my diabetes numbers are good. So every time I prick my finger, and I’m normal or my diabetes is under control, it’s a win. It’s a better win than fitting into any size jeans ever could be,” she says. “It’s not about a certain number on a scale and it’s not about what someone else thinks of how you look. Because you know you’re feeling good, you know that your heart is pumping good and that your numbers are good. There’s something about health no matter your size that is just golden. Being healthy is what gives you a long life, not thin thighs.”

[From Yahoo]

I really appreciate what Yvette is saying. She tweeted about weight loss compliments and how, once again, they are not always helpful. There will always be those who never understand this point because we are so brainwashed to believe thin is ideal. It’s not and what’s going on behind the loss may not be anything that person wants mentioned. My rule of thumb is to treat it like wondering if a woman is pregnant: if you don’t know, don’t ask unless she brings it up.

I appreciate Yvette’s point about knowing her A1C numbers rather than her weight. As someone who went back to the gym for reasons other than weight loss, there really is payoff when you hit those goals. I don’t know what number I am looking for on the scale and can’t afford new pants. But I went on a steep hike last weekend and not only did I not have any trouble scaling the hill, but I also wasn’t sore the next day. That’s something I could not have done this time last year. Yvette is working on the It’s Bigger Than Me campaign to eliminate the stigma surrounding obesity. She’d like people to be able to discuss it and treat it like any other condition. I agree with her, it’s not fair that we deem certain diseases acceptable for public discussion and others are relegated to backrooms and hushed tones. But that goes for the medical community as much as it does the regular public. I hope this campaign is getting doctors on board because there are a lot who do nothing but shame people battling obesity.

Photos Credit: Xavier Collin / Image Press Agency / Avalon, and via Instagram

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12 Responses to “Yvette Nicole Brown: ‘Reframe the way we talk about bodies. We are more than the shell’”

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  1. Alarmjaguar says:

    I just love her- and this is such an important message! Thanks, Hecate

  2. North of Boston says:

    I love the main message here. And she’s talented and always elevates anything she’s in.

    The only thing I’d quibble with is the “don’t eat yourself to diabetes” part. She likely said that because she was responding to someone asking about a diet plan, but it perpetuates misinformation about diabetes and its causes (which are complex … there are at least 6-8 different disorders which = Type 2 diabetes and none are a straight line result of “ate wrong”; the underlying causes are still not fully understood though there’s a heavy genetic component). There a Ted talk about diabetes by Peter Attia that talks about misconceptions about it.

    If you’ve got it, absolutely eating right for your body and consistent exercise can help manage it ie keep blood glucose levels in a good, not damaging range. And the combination of those 3 three things can also lead to weight loss, which then can make it easier to manage. And all of that is consistent with her main points about focusing on health not body size or shape.

    • souperkay says:

      Thank you!!! She lost me at that comment. It is no surprise that autonomously, your body will begin to store fat which is simply emergency reserves when a critical function of your body, insulin management begins to decline.

      There is no causation that anyone “eats their way to diabetes” however, after a diagnosis, management of diet is important which critically can include varying uses of medication. So yes, Virginia, you too can go to endless pasta at All of Garden with coinciding glucose monitoring, movement, and medication management.

      Also, critically, fat storage loss reflected through lowered body weight is not the solution for every diabetic, it can in fact make your diabetes worse, especially if you are not under the care of an endocrinologist who has properly typed your diabetes, hint hint cough cough LADA!

      Every diabetic’s mangement will be individualized, so what has worked for her, is not universal. It is long past time to stop looking at fat storage, weight, and visible body fat as an enemy to health. Fat storage is not controlled consciously, and it is a protective mechanism that is a signal there is a system in the body not working well. Diet and movement are not the sole causal factors. Diet is not the sole driver of fat storage.

  3. Ang says:

    Funny, I was disappointed when she returned to Community all slim-looking; I’d loved her look and her character so much.
    Now I know, and I’m so impressed and happy for her that she was so successful!

  4. Lucy says:

    She’s such a nice person. And hysterically funny.

    • HeyKay says:

      Good for her for talking about her health and how she has to work to improve and stabilize her health.
      She is very talented, good comedy timing and skills.

  5. FHMom says:

    I love Yvette. She’s one of the few celebs I follow on Instagram. She is positive, wise, kind and inspirational.

  6. ML says:

    I love her message: she had to slim down for her help, which worked in her case, instead of slimming down due to other people demanding she look a certain way. I’m glad for her that she’s now able to take control of her health by doing so and emphasizes the blood sugar numbers instead of the weight on the scale.

  7. DeeSea says:

    I just love her. She elevates everything that she appears in. I still quote her Community character, Shirley, frequently: “Aw, that’s nice!”

  8. tifzlan says:

    This hits really close to me right now because my BDD is at an all time low and I am mentally wrecked. Turning 30 in a week and being acutely aware of my changing body isn’t making it any easier — in fact, it’s amplifying all of the things that I know and feel are different, including weight gain in the last year. Being locked down (not in the U.S. but in a country with stricter regulations) during Covid completely dwindled my routine and subsequently motivation. It feels like a vicious cycle and I can’t get out of my own head to appreciate my body in the way Yvette is talking about. I feel really despondent tbh but we keep moving — literally and figuratively.

    • ACb says:

      Tifzlan, I’m sorry you are struggling. Sending you love and warm thoughts.

    • Lindsey says:

      I’m so sorry you’re struggling. Sending you hugs and good thoughts. I hope you have a support system you can lean on.