Celebrity Queen Latifah’s body is one of the most observable Black female bodies in contemporary United States culture. Using Black feminist theory, textual analysis, and Hip Hop theory, I examine Queen Latifah’s Hip Hop corpulence bodily and narrative performativity. That is, I identify her usage of her body in different and varied spaces. Even though Queen Latifah’s weight has fluctuated throughout her career, she has centered her body in spaces that have previously been hostile to corpulent, defined here as simply meaning larger and nonconforming, bodies; particularly, corpulent Black female bodies. I build on the work of Black feminist scholars, such as Leola A. Johnson (2003), who identify the black “queen” as an identity of some celebrity Black women, in suggesting that Queen Latifah has possessed a corpulent Africentric Queendom that has interrupted dominant and oppressive spaces in visual and narrative cultures. In doing so, she has performed a “mothering” subjectivity that is racialized and based in specific Black traditions that are contrary to the mythical construction of “mammy” that white supremacy is built on. It challenges the external Eurocentric constructions of the corpulent Black female body. Moreover, an examination of corpulence, or body size, demonstrates how Queen Latifah has claimed it as an intricate facet of her identity. Queen Latifah’s body, artistry, and activism are what Andrea Shaw (2006) would call “disobedient” and “unruly” according to societal standards. Consequently, Queen Latifah has redressed the corpulent Black female body in multiple visual and narrative spaces. In doing so, Queen Latifah is an architect of Hip Hop culture and a matriarch of Hip Hop feminism.
"Give Me Body! Race, Gender, and Corpulence Identity in the Artistry and Activism of Queen Latifah,"
Journal of Hip Hop Studies: Vol. 8
, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarscompass.vcu.edu/jhhs/vol8/iss1/4