Oprah Talks to Fantasia Barrino
Fantasia: No. I got picked on because my lips were so big—my head just recently caught up with them! I'm going through this with my daughter now; she's 5 years old, and she wants to look a certain way—she wants hair or skin like somebody else at school. I say, "Zion, you're beautiful," but when my mama tried to tell me that, I didn't want to hear it. When I was a teenager, all the other girls were getting attention, but I had this skinny little body with no shape. I thought, "Maybe if I show off some leg, the guys will look at me," so I tried to get attention with tight little dresses and miniskirts.
Oprah: You were raped in high school. Can you tell me how it happened?
Fantasia: I had a crush on this guy. He was the best ballplayer, and all the girls wanted him. I thought I had no chance with him. One day during a game after school, I was flaunting around in an itty-bitty dress. I was flirting, and he told me, "You're going to get something you don't want." And that's exactly what happened.
Oprah: He raped you at school?
Fantasia: Yes. I went home and threw away my clothes. I didn't tell my mama because I thought she would say, "I told you so." I just lay on my bed, and I didn't go to school for a couple of days. My mom came to me and said, "Something's not right with you. I know that somebody put his hands on you." That's when I knew I had her support. We turned the guy in, but going back to school was hell; his homeboys would say, "I'm going to do to you exactly what he did." They thought it was funny. That's when I quit school.
Oprah: How old were you?
Fantasia: I was about 14. I got a cheap apartment in the ghetto, and a boy I'd been dating moved in. That's when the fighting began; this guy was no good for me.
Oprah: When did you get pregnant?
Fantasia: When I was 17. That's when everybody seemed to give up on me. I was the girl who could sing and was supposed to grow up and do something with my life. But when I moved out, started hanging out with the wrong people, and got pregnant, people were like, "She ain't goin' nowhere now." I'd lost myself.
Oprah: I was an adult before I understood how sexual violation was directly related to the search for love through sexual connection. Have you realized that?
Fantasia: Yes. I messed up a lot of relationships because I believed that sex means love. I want real love.
Oprah: Your grandmother is a pastor, your mother is an evangelist. What was it like for you to have to tell your family that you were pregnant at 17?
Fantasia: My grandmother already knew—she came into my room and said, "You're pregnant." I said, "No, ma'am," but she told my mother I had to see a doctor. I did, and he confirmed it. My mother was heartbroken. She and my grandmother had both gotten pregnant at 17, and they'd wanted something different for me. This was like a family curse.
Oprah: It's not a curse. It's a family cycle. And you can break that cycle with knowledge, which gives you power. That is why you must insist on an education for your daughter. When you know better, you do better.
Fantasia: That's true.