“I had two breast reductions and liposuction before I turned 18. My father strongly recommended breast reduction ”, confessed the actress and singer Raven-Symoné, 37, in a recent episode of her podcast, entitled The Best Podcast Ever with Raven and Miranda. “My father asked me: ‘Is there anything we can do to make you not feel so bad?’ And I was like, ‘If I get lipo, will people stop calling me fat?’
At 18, Raven-Symoné was a very popular face in the United States. She and she had been since she was four, when she landed the role of Olivia, Bill Cosby’s granddaughter on the hit show The Bill Cosby Hour. The self-confidence of the little actress led her to continue getting roles on the small screen, and from the Cosby show she went on to the sitcom Living with Mr. Cooper, where she also played the youngest of the family. She then went to the movies, becoming Eddie Murphy’s daughter in the Dr. Dolittle movies. As a teenager, Raven-Symoné auditioned for a Disney Channel supernatural comedy about a teenage girl with psychic powers originally titled Absolutely Psychic, however after her casting, network executives gave the project a green light. and it was renamed, simply, It’s So Raven, which, to this day, continues to be considered one of the most successful series on the network. The actress was then 17 years old. Just a year later, she would land one of the leading roles in the musical comedy Cheetah Girls: All for a Dream, the first musical film on the Disney Channel, which would open the doors to other productions such as the High School Musical saga.
All this happened at the beginning of the millennium, when neither the media nor audiences were aware of mental health issues and women’s bodies were judged under the prevailing beauty canon, that heroin chic whose greatest exponent was the British model Kate Moss, and whose influence was beginning to take shape in other child stars such as the Olsen sisters or Lindsay Lohan. Raven-Symoné was the victim of this scrutiny, like so many others: the young woman she came to appear on lists that today would be unthinkable, such as those of the sexiest teenagers. However, her body was changing, and she soon began receiving criticism because she was gaining too much weight.
Little Raven also appeared as a guest in an episode of ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’. In the image, next to Will Smith.NBC (NBCUniversal via Getty Images)
On the podcast, Raven-Symoné recalls the process of going under the knife as traumatic, to say the least: “It was a disaster. Being so young and going through so much pain.” After the first operation, the actress underwent a second despite the experience, because her breasts were “still too big” for television. Although she does not regret her breast reduction operation, since she believes that, sooner or later, she would have carried it out anyway, she does believe that no adolescent should undergo a procedure like hers, since they should wait for their bodies to fully developed to make that decision.
Curiously, the period in which she underwent these surgeries coincided with the moment in which the actress and singer had her most professionally successful stage. The Cheetah Girls movie also had its sequel, which Raven-Symoné also produced, and which was a huge commercial success. On opening night, it had 8.1 million viewers glued to the screen, making it the most watched movie on Disney Channel to date. The soundtrack was also a huge success. However, in 2008, and despite her enormous commercial success, the interpreter decided not to participate in the third film in the saga. There was much speculation about the reasons and Raven herself acknowledged that the girls did not get along as well as they appeared on screen. But, more than that, she was peeling away from the child star image of herself and finding her own place within the industry, as an actress and also as a singer.
Raven-Symoné has since participated in different productions, such as the drama television series Empire, which tells the story of a former drug dealer and current hip hop mogul whose life is turned upside down when he is diagnosed with ALS. The actress has also tried to make a name for herself in the music industry, recording up to five studio albums that, however, have not achieved the success desired by the artist. In fact, a video has recently surfaced that has gone viral of an interview where Raven asks: “Aren’t we always in the studio working on music that nobody buys later?”
Raven-Symoné, at the press presentation of the series ‘It’s so Raven’, which premiered in 2003 in California. Frederick M. Brown (Getty Images)
Raven-Symoné’s career has remained closely linked to the Disney factory. In fact, in 2017 Raven’s Home premiered, a sequel to the series that catapulted her to fame as a teenager, and which has already been on the air for six seasons. The series continues in the spirit of the original comedy, but now Raven and her best friend, Chelsea, are two divorced women who share an apartment in Chicago. One day, they discover that one of Raven’s children has the same psychic powers as Raven.
In an interview with the 2022 Insider medium, the actress talked about growing up in front of the cameras. She doesn’t regret it, but she prefers to be who she is now: “Until I turned 20, people told me all the time how I should be and how I should look. But now I feel empowered to be who I am in front of the camera and feel comfortable in my skin. I can introduce myself as Raven-Symoné”.
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