In January, Oprah confessed to “falling off the wagon” and memorably voiced her frustration, saying, “I can't believe that after all these years, all the things I know how to do, I'm still talking about my weight."
Now Kirstie Alley finds herself in the same boat. The former Fat Actress star and Jenny Craig spokeswoman (who semi-self-consciously danced around Oprah’s stage in 2006 wearing a bikini and strategically-placed sarong) was back on TV yesterday talking with the talk show host about her 85-pound weight gain.
"It's humiliating," Kirstie said. "The most painful thing for me is that I have all these people that I inspired and then I let them down."
Kirstie admitted that when she stopped being the Jenny Craig spokeswoman (Valerie Bertinelli is the newest spokesperson, joining a growing list of 35-year-old-plus celebrities posing on magazine covers in their bikinis), she stopped dieting and working out and turned her home gym into a dining room. "When you're a spokesperson for a weight loss company … somebody weighs you every week. It's pressure but it's good pressure. I do better if I have some pressure on me," she said. "When I didn't have that anymore … I just said, 'I'm going to cut myself some slack.' Big mistake."
The result: She didn't weigh herself or exercise for a year and a half and wound up beating back the 75 pounds she had lost, plus an additional 10.
Of course, we all know what happened. Unflattering photos of her were splashed across the tabloids. Insults were hurled. Once, after getting off a plane, Kirstie says a paparazzi photog screamed, “Fat ass, turn around so I can shoot you!'"
Seeing her successor, Bertinelli, in a skimpy bikini on the cover of People poured more salt in her wound.
"I about died. I'm not kidding. It was like I was married to somebody and they left me... Her body rocks. I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I stayed in bed for a day and I've looked at [the People cover] a thousand times.”
But it ultimately inspired her and now she's on a quest to get Michelle Obama's arms and become quote “ripped” by November. Oprah was a bit more realistic and questioned as to whether six months is really enough time to shed all that weight in a healthy way. I actually really appreciated the fact that Oprah kept saying (not a direct quote) “Why set yourself up for failure?”
This whole thing has me feeling just... sad. Do celebrity spokeswomen REALLY think that we, the world at large, hold them to such high expectations that we would be personally disappointed in them if they were to lose their footing and gain back the weight? Everyone struggles -it can be a lifelong struggle for many -and while I'm sure there are many people who do sit back and throw stones, there are countless other real world women who understand all too well Kirstie’s struggles. In fact, I relate far more to her than I do to some actress who shed 50 pounds and has kept it off… by working out twice a day, insisting on 1400-calorie meal plans, eschews white carbs, salt and alcohol and has a personal tummy tuck doctor on speed dial.
No one should have to feel “humiliated” because they faltered or stumbled. No one deserves to feel like this:
"I've hated myself, I've loathed myself and if I had a whip I would probably whip myself. You know, you beat yourself up"
And no one should have to feel the pressure to go from plus-sized to “ripped” in six months. If she wants to do it for herself, then I applaud her and support her and hope she accomplishes everything she wants. But I just want all of these women -these weight-loss spokeswomen - to understand that we won't throw them to the wolves and call them names just because they are human. WE are not the paparazzi. We are real women, too.
Am I wrong? To all those women out there minding their waistlines, do you hold these spokespeople to a higher, almost superhuman standard? Maybe it's different for people who are actually following these meal plans. I'd love to hear your thoughts - did Kirstie really let you down or do you appreciate her self-awareness and bravery in battling her weight so publicly, no matter what the number on the scale?
Watch a clip of Kirstie on Oprah here.