’90s Black Plus-Size Characters

by Buzz Street Times

“Who says being a size 6, 4, or a 0 makes you attractive?”

1.

Khadijah James from Living Single


Warner Bros / ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

The episode where Khadijah is deciding between Scooter (Cress Williams) and Alonzo (Adam Lazarre-White) lives rent-free in my head and here’s why. In the ’90s, it was uncommon to see plus-size women pursued romantically, and desired by the finest men that TV had to offer. In Living Single, Khadijah was a driven entrepreneur who had options. Okay? I always think back to the episode (“Mystery Date”) when Max, Regine, and Khadijah fought over the new tenant Hamilton Brown, played by Morris Chestnut. In the end, he chose Khadijah, and that was a moment for me because that type of romance was not portrayed enough in ’90s television. But no matter what the romantic outcome was, she proved that, “Khadijah don’t need ya.” In other words, she was enough on her own.

2.

Nikki Parker from The Parkers


Cbs Photo Archive / Getty Images

Let’s ignore the fact that Nikki chased Professor Stanley Oglevee for nearly every episode of The Parkers. What matters is that she looked good doing it. From head to toe, week to week, she served animal prints, bold colors, fur, matching suits, and the updos of life. At a time when animal print on plus-size women was considered risky, Nikki (played by Mo’Nique) stepped out with confidence and she was on point every time.

3.

Kim from Moesha and The Parkers


UPN/ George Lange / picturelux / the hollywood archive / Courtesy Everett Collection

It was Season 3, Episode 9 of Moesha when I realized that Kim (played by Countess Vaughn) was my hero. Moesha: “It looks like you’re losing weight.” Kim: “Now why is that a compliment?” Moesha: “I was just saying that your costume makes you looks slimmer.” Kim: “Who says being a size 6, 4, or a 0 makes you attractive?” Fat jokes were unfortunately a huge part of ’90s sitcoms, and though the body positive movement has since evolved, I still cringe when I hear a replay of such clowning. Kim made it clear that you can be attractive at any size. She was the most stylish and the most secure with her body; it was just everyone else around her who couldn’t handle it.

4.

Lisa from Sister, Sister


Abc Photo Archives / Walt Disney Television via Getty

Lisa, played by Jackée Harry, commanded each scene with her larger-than-life personality and spirit. Now, we all love Tia and Tamera, but Lisa could’ve easily been the star of her own show. She had an unforgettable presence, and her comedic timing was playful and unforced. Around the time Sister, Sister aired, I felt networks were starting to embrace the idea of plus-size women in the spotlight, and that was a beacon of hope for later shows to come.

5.

Mickey from B.A.P.S.


New Line Cinema / ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

All I hear is, “living large, and takin’ charge,” from Natalie Desselle-Reid’s iconic role as Mickey. With big dreams and an unapologetic attitude, Mickey always made her suitors aware of her wants and needs. She had high standards because she knew her worth and didn’t settle for less than she deserved. And let’s not forget Mickey’s show-stopping, form-fitting leopard suit, which continues to serve as cosplay inspiration.

6.

Andell from Moesha and The Parkers


Upn/Kobal/Shutterstock/ UPN

Andell Wilkerson (played by Yvette Renee Wilson) is the epitome of an independent Black woman. She was among only a handful of Black business owners portrayed in ’90s television, but her ambition was well-played. Andell was respected by everyone, and that level of esteem was not compromised by her often flirty demeanor—which was a huge statement to be made about plus-size women in the ’90s. Seeing a Black woman with such power and grace was a revelation to other characters, and Andell represented Black excellence regardless of size.

7.

Gertie from The Parkers


UPN

Gertie (played by Kym Whitley) never hesitated to embrace and express her sexuality. Whether flirting with the stripper or plotting on someone at a party, Gertie never tried to make herself fit in by playing small. When she arrived at Nikki’s apartment in her lingerie suit, I was sold. *Adds lace to cart.*

8.

Galleria from The Cheetah Girls


Disney Channel

Ok, not exactly the ’90s, but Raven-Symoné starring in one of Disney’s most popular films was simply iconic. We’ve all attempted our share of Cheetah Girls choreography, and though there’s a stigma when it comes to plus-size people and movement, Galleria proved that you can be plus-size and still the “fastest, fiercest feline in the jungle.” Now that’s growl power.

9.

Synclaire James from Living Single


Andrew Semel / ©Warner Bros. Television / Courtesy Everett Collection

One thing about Synclaire James (played Kim Coles), she was never afraid to be herself. Synclaire’s aspirations as an actress felt so real and gave me hope for seeing more plus-size women in ’90s theater, film, and TV. Unique, quirky, thoughtful, and optimistic, she was confident in her lane and passionate about her endeavors. I’m sure she’d face today’s fat-shaming trolls with a simple, “Woo woo woo,” and keep it moving.

For more of BuzzFeed’s Black History Month coverage, click here.


Brooke Greenberg / BuzzFeed

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