Lopez remained confident in the face of criticism about her body as she launched her career in the early ’90s. ‘You’re the one with the problem!’ she says of her critics.
Jennifer Lopez is an inspiration to many. But the Latina icon, who’s left a stamp on film, music and fashion and is now the chief creative officer of NUVOtv, hasn’t always been a mega star.
In fact, while growing up in the Bronx, Jenny from the block idolized other stars like Rita Moreno.
“I was really moved watching ‘West Side Story’ as a young girl and seeing Puerto Rican stars in it,” she said in the Winter issue of Cosmopolitan for Latinas. “Even though it wasn’t the best depiction of us, they still have the passion and love that I relate to – not to mention the singing and dancing! Rita Moreno became a hero to me.”
Lopez grew up in a strong Puerto Rican household with parents who taught her the value of hard work and self-respect. So as the “Let’s Get Loud” singer’s body began to transform from little girl to curvy woman, she was prepared to face whatever came her way.
“Early on, my family really made me love who I was and what I looked like,” she recalled. “My body was nothing out of the ordinary in my neighborhood.”
But as Lopez began booking television gigs in the early ’90s when ultra-thin was in, she began feeling the heat from people who wanted her to conform to what was considered beautiful then.
“When I first started on television [as a Fly Girl on “In Living Color”], people, and even my own manager at the time, would tell me I had to make all of these changes,” she said.
While her curvaceous frame was a rarity on television at that time, Lopez’s confidence wouldn’t let her critics get the best of her.
“You have to stand up and say, ‘There’s nothing wrong with me or my shape or who I am; you’re the one with the problem!’” she said, “And when you can really believe that, all of a sudden other people start believing too.”
The “American Idol” judge continued on her road to success and took her unfaltering self-esteem with her when she entered the big screen.
“One day somebody told me I had to perform in front of 35,000 people on the set of ‘Selena,’” Lopez said for the issue, which hits newsstands Oct. 29. “I didn’t know how to do it.”
But her inexperience didn’t stop her from facing the challenge with fierceness and poise.
“I just said to myself, ‘Don’t think about it. You can do this, and you’ll be great,’” she said. “I walked out onto that stage. And then I did. I’ve been following that rule ever since.”
Her rule for prosperity seems to be working well. The New York native and mother of two remains extremely relevant in the entertainment industry, just as she was as the bright-eyed, up-and-coming actress starring in “Selena.”
As she moves forward, reflecting on the inspirations from her past, Lopez paves the way for others who have a dream and desire to see it played out in real life.
Still, no matter how much fame she attains, at the core of it all are her family, the values they embedded in her as a young woman, and the lessons she now passes on to her own children.
“I love the family that I grew up in, the strength and passion and the heart that we bring to things, and then the way I was raised,” she added. “[It’s] the intense love we demonstrate.”