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‘I Can’t Stand in the Mirror and Assess Myself’: Chaka Khan Talks Body Image and Past Drug Use

Legendary soul singer Chaka Khan recently sat down with comedian Luenell for an interview for Vlad TV. The two ladies discussed personal life moments for Chaka, before and after she achieved fame. The “Ain’t Nobody” songstress touched on dealing with body image issues, and she also spoke on past drug usage — something both her and Luenell had in common.

“How did I manage to get so much music done and get so f–ked up at the same time,” Chaka recalled. “I used to go to Rick James’ house, and I used to go to Natalie Cole’s house. I used to go to occasional underground, after-hours joints. I think part of the reason we’re still here is because some of what was in them drugs was formaldehyde. That formaldehyde type of effect.”

Chaka Khan speaks on bad body image and Prince. Photo: Screenshot of VladTV

Luenell chimed in saying, “We’re preserved like fossil from the inside,” before asking the songstress if she ever felt that her drug use had any effect on her voice. “No,” she responded before adding, “those things live in two different areas of my whole makeup. Your calling is untouched by anything. What you are put here on this Earth to do is untouched by everything. Nothing can really mess that up.”

The two ladies mentioned the late Whitney Houston, who publicly battled with drug issues for years before her untimely death in 2012. “Whitney’s voice was one that did get destroyed by, you know…,” Luenell noted, to which Chaka responded, “And frustration, emotion, and stress. That will really affect you profoundly. She was in a stressful situation. She was being pulled in a way that…” Luenell said, “It would wear down anybody.”

Shortly after, Luenell asked Chaka if she received any change in treatment following her drastic weight loss. “I got a lot of attention when I lost the weight because I lost the weight. When I say Ima do something, Ima do it,” the singer explained. She added, “I have a bad body image. I don’t know what I look like. I really don’t. I can’t stand in the mirror and assess myself in comparison to other people.”  

The “Through The Fire” singer didn’t hesitate to shed light on another songstress who had a similar struggle with her weight. “Aretha had the same thing,” the singer revealed. “She would order and have size eight made for her when she was a size 40. God bless her. I’ve seen many a zipper bust on her on stage. God bless her. When there is genius in one area, some place else really suffers. You’re a cuckoo head in another place.”

Chaka also put the rumors to rest that she had weight-loss surgery. “I lost that weight because I was pre-diabetic,” she said. “No, there was no surgery. No cutting. Two c-sections and one knee surgery, and that’s good for me. I’m not about the knife or needles.”

Check out a clip from the interview between Chaka and Luenell below.

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