I just saw that Kirstie Alley is on the cover of People Magazine. Not for her work as a actress or for a charity she's involved with, or some family or relationship drama. She's on the cover because, according to her, she's fat.
She was also the subject of a recent, one-hour Oprah interview. Oprah herself has been open about the fact that she herself gained back many of the pounds she worked hard to lose. Oprah looked at Kirstie and asked if she agreed with the fact that Oprah said "after all these years, I can't believe I'm STILL talking about my weight!". Kirstie agreed that she was becoming known for her weight, not her work.
Many of the celebrities who are famous for their weight loss (or gain) are often spokespeople for diet programs. They start off over-weight, go on the diet plan (and are very generously paid) and each week we see them shrink down a little more until the inevitable "TA DA!" moment where they sashay onto the screen (sometimes in a bikini) and show off their new bodies. We cheer them on. They inspire us.
They also pay their rent by doing this - many of these actresses, in their 40s and 50s, have (unfortunately) trouble finding work.
Then the ad campaign is over, the money train ends and they gain weight again. Many have. Joy Behar, Oprah, Whoopie Goldberg and Kristie Alley are among the many who have regained weight. Some, like Kirstie, gain back a lot.
And the cycle begins again.
Kirstie is launching her own diet line soon and hopes to lose the 85 pounds she has gained. She was replaced in the famous diet program by actress Valerie Bertinelli who graced People Magazine herself a couple of weeks ago, looking stunning and svelt in a bikini. Kirstie intimated she was both envious and inspired. Will Bertinelli also gain back the weight? Time will tell.
We then wonder if these yo-yo success-then-failure stories are helpful or harmful. Is there too much emphasis on the final curtain, where the star comes out looking nothing like her former fat self? Is the journey not more important? Or do these failures (I use that term cautiously) actually serve as even more inspirational? That these women are actually human, after all? That despite tons of money, personal trainers and chefs and state of the art gyms, they fall - just like us. And we watch as they pick themselves us again, just like we do, and try to march on.
Is it dangerous that someone's weight gain becomes their identity? Kirstie lamented that she is now known for being fat, not an actress. Would they be better off not making such a song-and-dance of everything? Isn't the fall less painful when it's not witnessed by millions of people?
But then again, many have said that it inspires regular folk to keep trying, and to pick themselves up again. It seems this weight battle is a a struggle for all of us - even the 'beautiful people'.
Is the celebrity craze of public diet programs and dramatic weight loss reveal too much? Is Kirstie only hurting herself by continually broadcasting her weight issues by jumping on different weight loss bandwagons? Or do you find that it inspires you in your own life?
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