She's fat—and that's not bad. Mo'Nique, a size 20 and loving it, says she sees herself more like, "Fabulous and thick. Full and tasty. Fluffy and tender. When you say fat, you have to smile." Not only that, the 39-year-old comedian-actress is out to prove big girls have more fun—and her success would seem to prove her point. She hosts a plus-size beauty pageant called Mo'Nique's F.A.T. Chance
, whose third season premieres July 28 on Oxygen, and taught etiquette on VH1's recent Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School
. She's got movie deals, a standup tour, two bestselling books and an upcoming workout DVD. At home, she's plenty busy raising three kids and enjoying a decidedly unconventional marriage. So, what don't you know about Mo'? Read on.
1 YES, SHE SAYS, "WE HAVE AN OPEN MARRIAGE."
After two divorces, Mo'Nique wed onetime high-school classmate Sidney Hicks, 39, in May 2006. "We have no secrets, we have no sneakiness," she says. "We never have to worry about, 'You deceived me.'" So what does "open" mean exactly? "The main question people have is, 'Can y'all sleep with other people?' Do we set out to do that? Of course not, I love my husband," she says. "But if that was to happen, would it be a deal breaker? Of course not." Says Hicks, who worked in corporate sales before becoming Mo'Nique's writing partner: "My love is for her, and while I have not been intimate with anyone else, if I did, it wouldn't take anything away from our relationship." And Mo'Nique? "Whether she has or not, that's not relevant," he adds.
2 SHE'S JUGGLING 20-MONTH-OLD TEETHING TWINS AND A TEENAGER TOO.
Shalon, 17, her son from her first marriage, kept Mo'Nique grounded while she was pregnant with Jonathan and David, her twins with Hicks. "We were doing the nursery," she recalls, "and Shalon said, 'Mommy, remember when my crib was in the dining room of the one-bedroom apartment? Now, they've got flat screens?' He made me take a step back and think. I was tripping." These days, "Trying to balance is tough. David can play by himself, but Jonathan is the fire and needs the attention."
3 SHE TAKES FITNESS SERIOUSLY.
After her husband said, "Baby, I want us to have a lifetime together," Mo'Nique, who says she weighs more than 200 lbs., started working out. "I don't want to be so selfish that when I'm 45, I've got diabetes or high blood pressure," she says. She hired trainer Erica Sammy—"she understands a big woman's body"—and does cardio, stretching and weight training. They're taping a fitness DVD for larger women who, says Mo'Nique, "aren't trying to become a size 5. We're just trying to get healthy."
4 NUDE BODY PAINTING MADE ANYTHING SEEM POSSIBLE.
Mo'Nique has rarely been self-conscious about her size, even growing up: "My dad told me I was the prettiest girl in the world," she says. But she got the chance to push her boundaries when she taped the new season of F.A.T. Chance
in Paris—she and the contestants did a photo shoot wearing nothing but body paint. The experience "made me take the word 'impossible' out of my vocabulary," she says. "I'm like, 'Okay, we gonna need some more paint.' When we had to drop our towels, it was incredible." Even Mo'Nique still manages to surprise herself. "Somebody once said to me, 'You'll never be the sex symbol. You'll never be the star,'" she recalls. "But one night I went to the Eiffel Tower at 2 in the morning, and I thought, 'Wow, the little fat girl is in Paris!'"