kirstie alley jenny craig

Why I Have a Problem With Kirstie Alley

Dear Kirstie Alley,

I saw your recent commercial for Jenny Craig where you ask Jenny if you can “come back home” to her program and exclaim that you’re not “Circus Fat,” you “just” want to lose 20 lbs.

In a recent interview, you try to back peddle from the heat you’ve taken for your comment and stated, “That’s how I see me…I grew up [in Kansas] in a generation of not overweight people. … I grew up in an era where my dad took me to the Kansas State Fair or the circus — they had actual fat ladies in the circus.”

Kirstie, there are so many worse things to be than “circus fat.” For example, being a woman with a huge platform and financial means to make the world a better place and instead of using it to do so, using it to validate a culture that privileges thin over health and thin-beauty over…well, everything. That is much worse than simply being a person with a body larger than you’re comfortable with.

Kirstie, if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, you’re either insane or you’ve convinced yourself that YOU were the problem and the diet wasn’t. I want to assure you that the diet is the problem and remind you that there has yet to exist a reputable study to prove that diets work long-term to maintain significant weight-loss.

To the contrary, most dieters regain more weight than they lost. Given these odds, you have the choice to either accept the body you have now and focus your energy and resources on making peace with your body and then moving on to accomplish worthwhile goals while being a positive example to the young women and men who look up to you; or, you can resign to spending the rest of your life, and your time, resources and platform, on a diet plan that requires that people suffocate their biological survival mechanisms (hunger cues & satiation cues) in exchange for pre-calculated meals so that one is forever reliant on a frozen meal, rather than his or her own body, to dictate how/when/how much to eat—and do so knowing that by condoning dieting and body dissatisfaction, this is the example you are setting for others.

Kirstie—our culture’s fixation with thinness and, conversely, our demonization of fatness, is the REAL problem. There is no wrong way to have a body. I repeat—your body, just as it is right now, is FINE. My friend has a wonderful exercise where she lists all of the amazing things her body does for her—blinking, heart beating, blood pumping, etc.—to put into perspective what a treasure it is to be EMBODIED. I encourage you to do the same thing. We were not all meant to be the same size (just as we were all not meant to be the same height and color) and none of us should live in a world where it’s acceptable (even popular) to body-shame one another.

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You are allowed to do whatever you want with your body—that is feminism 101. You are allowed to diet until the svelte Jenny Craig cows come home. You are allowed to hate your body and to continue to toil like Sisyphus with the boulder of weight-loss dreams. But remember that the body is political. Remember that as a public persona, you have young, impressionable minds taking in your every move and your every word.

And, I’ll tell you from experience—wanting to just lose XX lbs is a dangerous game to play. I played it, became bulimic and was willing to die to be thin. I’ve won the game now, but it wasn’t by losing weight—it was by forfeiting the game. And I’ll tell you one thing—I would much rather be “circus fat” than be a clown for the $66B weight-loss industry.

If you would like two suggestions on how you can use your platform and means to promote body positivity, there are two documentary campaigns seeking backing right now that do such a thing and, unfortunately, neither is near reaching their goal. I wonder why… why isn’t it as sexy and popular to promote self-love and body diversity as it is to jump on the dieting bandwagon?

Article by Missy W.