I wanted to share with you this open letter penned by actress/writer/director Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding; My Life in Ruins).She recently lost 40 pounds after her doctors told her it was jeopardizing her health. The biggest thing she did? “I broke up with cheese," Vardalos told People. "I always say…cheese keeps calling me and trying to get me to meet at a cheap motel, but I'm really committed to just staying single for awhile."
I’m sure Vardalos did much more than that…but it’s not the lack of dairy products in her diet that’s bugging her now. It’s the near-omnipresent focus on her body, on the number on her scale, despite her achievements in film, directing, and new mommyhood. Read her letter below – I think she did a wonderful job with it.
“It’s just weight. Just 40 pounds of fat now gone from my body, but wow, it’s pretty much all I get asked about. In the last year, I got to star in a movie, wrote and directed my next one, and adopted a three year old from American Foster Care. But guess what I’m asked…how did I lose the weight?
I am embarrassed to be in the position of answering questions about my body again. On the publicity tour of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ I was asked over and over again, if, as the writer, I felt it was a fair depiction of real life to have someone of my er, below average looks, hook up with hottie John Corbett.
It’s been years, and I have sat through many a movie like Sideways, where nobody blinks an eye when Paul Giamatti gets together with gorgeous Virginia Madsen. And, then Knocked Up….[y]es, there’s a double standard for women. Whatever. Yawn, we all know it, perpetuate it – we make it worse every time we buy a magazine showing “Stars with Cellulite.” And women, we do buy those magazines. Yes, we do. No, not just at the airport – you have a subscription, admit it. So do I.
So, it’s our fault. Let’s accept it and move on. Socially, the issue of men’s weight is simply not a big deal. Let’s face it: Russell Crowe is fat and no one ever talks about it. Alec Baldwin just orders his suits a size bigger and we continue to swoon.
So, what exactly is up with my weight loss? I get hit with this awkward question daily and have answered it in press interviews, at the grocery store, at the newspaper stand. Why? Because I see their anxious, open faces needing the secret, the new pill, the cure, anything. Just please share the secret. So I hesitantly answer and am always met with the same response: the glaze-eye slack-jawed face.
Because they don’t want to hear the truth: I had a blood sugar problem so my Doctor ordered me to lose weight, it was really hard but I did it through diet, exercise and it took a year.
This is when the boredom sets in on the querying person. I might as well just shove an Ambien up their nostril. The gleam in their eye fades and they get sleepy.
No one wants to hear the facts about weight loss. It’s simple. Take that bag of Doritos and throw it as far as you can. Now chase after it. Pick it up, do it again.
Or don’t. You don’t have to lose weight, unless like me, it becomes an issue of health. I thought I was attractive when I shot My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Studio executives and movie reviewers let me know I had a confidence in my looks that was not shared by them. In other words: they labeled me with words like, overweight, unattractive, unappealing. Hey, just say fat. I love the word fat. I used it in the title. It’s actually not a naughty word. We give it a power it actually doesn’t have. So, you’re fat. Big deal.
If now, I have a sudden validity because I look different on the red carpet, check out my Before pics on my Twitter. (@NiaVardalos) (For you non-Twitterers – here’s a recent shot.) I am showing what happens before Team Miracle comes over in the Hazmat suits and works on me for a few hours. Anyone can look like they make me look. That’s why most malls offer a Glamour Shots booth.
I am just telling you the truth.”