We’ve all got our workplace horror stories and the Emmy-nominated actress and best-selling author Mindy Kaling is the latest to share hers. In a recent interview on Good Morning America, Kaling shared an experience she had just starting out in Hollywood that left her “devastated” and forever changed.
According to Kaling, the incident occurred when she 25 years old and working in the writers room on the hit NBC show The Office. During a meeting in which she and the team were pitching ideas for upcoming episodes, one of Kaling’s co-worked reportedly pitched an interaction that suggested her character, Kelly Kapoor, had lost 15 pounds. Kaling said the comment “really devastated her,” as her weight was her “greatest insecurity” and she was already regularly waking up early to go to the gym before work.
However, despite the incident being traumatic at the time, Kaling went on to say the experience ultimately completely altered her views and the trajectory of her work for the better. Following the incident, Kaling was “forced to look inward” and think about how others perceived her body in the entertainment industry:
I had a reckoning where I’m like, ‘People are scrutinizing [me], and not only are they scrutinizing [me], they’re verbalizing their displeasure with how I look because I don’t look a certain way. That kind of dissonance has really affected so much of what I write about [and] the kind of characters I play. Almost all of those kinds of things [in my work] come from something really real.
Since then, Kaling has gone on to achieve great success, writing New York Times Best-Sellers Why Not Me? and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, creating, producing and starring in her own series, The Mindy Project, as well as creating other hit television shows such as Netflix’s Never Have I Ever. Throughout it all, normalizing mid-sized bodies and promoting diversity have been two of the star’s biggest goals. Ultimately, she says she has noticed a big difference in Hollywood already:
On TV, if you were really thin, then you could be the lead. Otherwise, you had to be like 250 pounds, and you had to be the slapstick comic relief. But what was crazy, what was left out, is just like this range of people which is a majority of American women over the age of 24. What if you’re like a [size] 12 and you want to just live your life and look cute and date? At that time, when I wrote Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? [in 2011] it was like a no man’s land. That has really changed, I think.
Here’s hoping even more change comes with it and we see even greater body representation in the future — as well as less unwanted comments about weight from co-workers.