Mindy Kaling Says Former Co-Star On 'The Office' Called Out Her 'Greatest Insecurity'

by Julie Scagell
Jeff Kravitz/Getty

Kaling said her weight was a potential “joke” on ‘The Office’

Actress, writer, and mom Mindy Kaling sat down with Good Morning, America and talked about her life, her new Netflix show’s success, and that one time a co-worker on The Office suggested her weight be a punchline on the series.

Kaling, who was working as a writer and actor on popular sitcom The Office, told GMA that one of her co-stars suggested that as a “joke” that their character should tell Mindy’s character, Kelly Kapoor, that she should lose 15 pounds. “This is my greatest insecurity and someone just called it out,” she said during the interview. “It’s really devastating.”

“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,” she continued. “That kind of dissonance has really affected so much of what I write about [and] the kind of characters I play.” She didn’t name the co-star who pitched the unkind ‘joke’, however.

Kaling’s weight is something that’s come up from her own writing and as jokes in The Office and other characters she’s played. In her book Is Everyone Hanging Out with Out Me, Kaling writes, “Since I am not model-skinny, but also not super-fat and fabulously owning my hugeness, I fall into that nebulous, ‘Normal American Woman Size’ that legions of fashion stylists detest. For the record, I’m a size 8 (this week, anyway). Many stylists hate that size because, I think, to them, I lack the self-discipline to be an aesthetic, or the sassy confidence to be a total fatty hedonist. They’re like ‘Pick a lane.’”

She continued: “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,” Kaling said. “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.”

That notion is what prompted so much of Kaling’s writing, including her new uber-popular Netflix show Never Have I Ever. “It makes me so happy that this show can be on Netflix, 40 million people can watch it, it’s No. 1 around the world and it stars a girl who is a young, dark-skinned Indian girl,” she said. “She’s real, and she dates and boys like her, boys hate her, she goes in and out of drama, fights with her friends, but she’s normal and she’s the point of view character and so you can look to that and feel seen, to use a phrase that people much younger than me use.”

If more creators follow Kaling’s lead on that, perhaps at some point weight won’t be a topic of conversation — or the butt of a joke — as a form of entertainment.