“Abbott Elementary” actor Lisa Ann Walter is opening up about her journey of self-love that was kickstarted by the advice from her co-star and close friend Sheryl Lee Ralph, who helped her unlearn negative body image stigma and encouraged her to love herself.
“Sheryl was the one who said to me, ‘You talk too much trash about yourself — I know you think it’s funny. You’re gonna stop that. You are beautiful. Your body is beautiful. I don’t want to hear negative [things],'” Walter told TheWrap at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday night. “So I said, ‘Alright … that’s good advice,’ and it truly changed how I was.”
The “Abbott Elementary” star’s negative self-image can be traced back to Walter’s adolescence, when slender figures akin to Farrah Fawcett were idolized over curves. “In the 1980s, white women weren’t supposed to have a [butt],” she continued. “You weren’t supposed to have curves. You were supposed to look like a Charlie’s Angel, and not one day in my life have I ever looked like that.”
While Walter doesn’t consider herself being a “fat kid,” she says she’s always been “maybe 10 pounds too heavy” — calling it the “story of [her] life” — and recalls losing a bunch of weight when she was 13 as she strived for 36-24-36, which has been broadly considered to be the “perfect” measurements for the female form.
“I spent an entire life trying to lose 10 pounds that God gave me to have a beautiful, womanly figure,” she said. “It has given me a lot of pain, a lot of stress and tears, and it’s a disease. We need to stop with this crap.”
On top of the explicit advice Ralph gave Walter to ditch the negative self-talk, “The Parent Trap” actor says just being around her colleague’s “centered” confidence has rubbed off on her and anyone else who spends time with her.
“Sheryl is so centered and living in her her beauty and her glory and all the things that are wonderful about herself that anybody that spends any time standing next to that picks up some of it,” she said.
Elijah Gill contributed to this report.