The Week (US)

Williams’ outsider attitude


Wendy Williams had a knack for pushing people’s buttons at an early age, said Michael Schulman in The New Yorker. When the veteran talk-show host was growing up in New Jersey, her habit of asking nosy, sensitive questions led her teacher parents to develop a code for reeling her in: T.L. (too loud), T.F. (too fast), and T.M. (too much). “I’d come in the kitchen and say, ‘Aunt Marilyn, is that new hair? Are you wearing a wig?’” she recalls. “Aunt Marilyn would say, ‘As a matter of fact I am.’ ‘Well, push it up a little. It’s too far down on your forehead.’” When Williams gained weight in elementary school, her parents put her on a diet of tuna and mustard—with the occasional side of grapes—imparting a body insecurity that she says led to her midlife embrace of plastic surgery. “Once it’s put in your head, that’s a lifelong thing.” She felt like an oddity in her high school, where she fit in with neither the few Blacks—who called her the “white girl” because of her honking accent—or white classmates who’d use the N-word around Williams, always saying they didn’t mean her. “I never went to the prom, because that was before you could ask a Black girl—but I saw the boys looking,” she says. “I would say, ‘I can’t wait to get out of this one-horse town. And I’m coming back to our first reunion and I’m going to give it to ’em good.’”

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