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Do Celebrity Weight Battles Cause More Harm Than Good?

Weight issues don't make someone famous, but they frequently become center stage once celebrity status is official. Sure, the general public is overly concerned by struggles with the scale. But the celebrities who publicize their weight battles could be damaging the way the overweight public handles their own body issues.

The New York Times takes issue with celebrity weight battles in a piece that explores the various ways celebs deal with their public struggles. The Times interviewed overweight women who feel offended and unmotivated when Kirstie Alley makes statements like "I was so much more disgusting than I thought!" and when Oprah admits that she's embarrassed about hitting 200 pounds again.

Self-esteem takes a beating when "before" pictures resemble what these women currently see in the mirror, and this affects the way the public perceives people who are overweight. Still, as one weight stigma expert says, "Celebrities can show us how complex this problem is. Even if you have all the resources at your fingertips, it doesn’t make you immune. So it’s important to see that it’s a battle for everyone."

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alxxxmx alxxxmx 8 years
popsugar, or whatever sugar, can you be a bit more sophisticated and have the poll results appear on the same web page?
margokhal margokhal 8 years
Hey Bri! Of course there's a healthy weight range for everyone...but I'm certainly not in it. Not by a long shot. To put it in perspective: even if I do lose 100+ lbs [which is my main goal], I'll STILL be in the "overweight" range. Even so, being -100 lbs. is a reasonable goal for me. And I wish I could worry about not being ONE size smaller...this is the difference between plus-sized clothes and normal ranges of sizes. If I could shop in any store and be able to leave because I didn't like the clothes, not because you know absolutely NOTHING fits - THAT would make me happy. And I don't agree with JBanana on one point. Aside from medical issues, or simple common sense [do you REALLY think that ALL overweight people eat potato chips and other junk food and don't exercise at all?? seriously.], there ARE people who really have a hard time losing weight. Celebrities who do achieve dramatic weight loss [with their resources] and these slimdown special episodes really DO minimize the battle that comes with losing weight. It's just not as simple as "eat less, eat better, exercise more" for many people - or else NOBODY would have a problem with losing weight.
sloane220 sloane220 8 years
i agree with spacekatgal- most of the time i'm a 4/6, i used to be 2, but that's not where i'm supposed to be. i have a medium frame and i'm just happy to be physically fit and while enjoying food. maybe you have a large frame. some people disagree with using frame size as a rubric for how much you should weigh, but i think it can help people to stop killing themselves to achieve a weight they might never be or if they get to that weight they may never enjoy life with all the crazy things they'll have to do to maintain that weight.
sloane220 sloane220 8 years
personally, the celebrity weight struggles remind me to keep doing what i do so that my weight (and metabolism) doesn't yo-yo. @jbanana-yes, i am slim and i work hard to stay that way, but i sympathize with bigger people, because like margokhal just detailed sometimes there are unknown reasons people don't lose weight, along with known medical issues like hypothyroidism, depression, larger frames, injuries, menopause, etc. sometimes its not as cut and dry as put down the chips and get on the treadmill because even if certain people do put the work, they have other issues that may make it harder to lose weight.
Linda50T Linda50T 8 years
It's not that I have a problem with celebrities talking about their weight battles--I listen to that every day at work from my coworkers. The problem I have is with certain celebrities who use their battles for publicity, for sympathy ("see, I'm just like you"), for promoting their books, TV shows, products, etc. Valerie Bertinelli went on a diet and she worked hard to get where she is. As she said, no one did it for her, she had to have the discipline to exercise and eat right. Yes, she is promoting a product, but she's not down your throat about it. Now, Oprah, on the other hand, is using her weight for PR. As you know, magazines are not published the month prior to hitting the newstands. They are planned, articles written, photographs taken, months in advance. Yet Oprah suddenly had an epiphany just in time for her January issue? No, she was "embarrassed" to be 200 pounds way back in the summer of 2008 when her January issue was being written. How timely that her Best Life issue came out at the same time millions of Americans were making their New Years resolutions, once again, to lose weight and get in shape! Oprah knows how you feel! Oprah will struggle right along with you! You are not alone! What a bunch of baloney! She planned all that to promote herself once again. If Oprah says, does, thinks it, it must be true.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I think it's important for celebs to talk about their struggles and at least be honest about their struggles to lose weight. A lot of celebrities lie about how they stay thin...they say they have a good metabolism or that they eat whatever they want or that they do a lot of yoga. When in reality, they subsist on black coffee, cigarettes, and steamed spinach and work out 3 hours a day with a personal trainer. I agree with the poster who is angry at people like Oprah and Kirstie who DO have all the resources and squander them. Kirstie had like, a full home gym in her house and she just moved it all out so she could have a big dining room again. I'd KILL to have all that stuff in my house! Just like it would definitely be nice to have a personal trainer at my beck and call and a personal chef that made all my food so I wouldn't even have to think.
Talldiva45 Talldiva45 8 years
More harm in the long run I think. It just feeds the obsession w. weight loss and the pressure to do so quickly and often in pressure filled environments and in unhealthy ways.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
I hate both the celebrity weight battles and the constant "special editions" of magazines with people who lose RIDICULOUS amounts of weight. It's not inspiring at all to me - in fact, they make me feel worse. Sure, being a celebrity and having tons of money doesn't make you immune to being overweight or having a hard time losing weight - but it's hard for me to feel any sort of sympathy when I would KILL to have the resources they do. They've just squandered what's available to them, when there are people who need those resources but don't have access because they don't have the time or money to do so. That's disgusting to me. The slimdown articles also minimize the real BATTLE that comes with attempting serious weight loss. I mean, People magazine has that issue every year with women who lost a ton of weight, Good Housekeeping has one on the stands now, and every month or so the morning news shows will feature people who've had dramatic weight loss. It makes me upset because they make it look EASY. If it was that EASY, everybody who wanted to lose 50+ lbs would have done so by now! And that's just not true. Sure, they ask them what was the hardest thing about losing weight, but it's just so glossed over that the public perpetuates the perception that people are only overweight because they WANT to be, because "many" people (celebrities, the people featured in the articles) HAVE lost the weight, so it can't be that hard. Here I am, trying everything within my power - now I eat less [and I've always eaten healthier and a more balanced diet!] than most of my very thin friends, even the one that lost 30 lbs on Weight Watchers, I exercise a lot more and should be burning a ton of calories, especially for my weight. I've gotten checked for everything medical - and there's nothing wrong with me. But looking at these other celebrities and "normal" people losing weight just like THAT really just doesn't help. It's demoralizing.
shell684 shell684 8 years
Jbanana, your comment about poor eating/exercise habits contributing to thyroid conditions such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism is simply medically incorrect. These conditions develop independently and have no causal relationship with food/exercise. Perhaps you are confusing hypo- and hyperthyroidism with Type II diabetes, in which poor diet/exercise habits have shown to be a trigger with people who are genetically at risk for developing this disease.
livetolove livetolove 8 years
I actually like when they publicize it, it makes ME feel more normal when I go through weight problems. We put celebs on such a pedestal and to see that they succumb to the same troubles we do when it comes to weight, it makes them appear more human and me feel like less of a loser for not staying on track all the time
lizzie008 lizzie008 8 years
I think it does cause harm. It makes it seem okay to go on crash diets and lose weight for publicity as opposed to health. These celebs always gain the weight back.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I said yes, only because I measure the "harm" in annoyance and utter boredom when faced with Oprah saying that she fell off the wagon...for approximately the 20th time.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
no, it's inspirational really. i believe everyone should think for themselves and if they do harm to their bodies by seeing anorexic celebrities - it's their choice.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 8 years
Frankly, I am as sick and tired of hearing super slim downs as much as ongoing weight battles. Sometimes the less we know about their lives and body issues, the better. I know they do it because they want to convey that they are human and aren't perfect, but the topic is too much sometimes, and I think it can get in the way of how readers view their own bodies too.
JBanana JBanana 8 years
If those that are overweight are offended because Oprah says she is embarrased, the problem is not Oprah or Kirstie, at least they are publicly willing to do something about it and can admit when they are not perfect. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, put down the chips and get on the treadmill or take a walk. No one is overweight because they are just that way. You ARE what you EAT. Same goes for thyroid, and 'genetic disposition' and diabetes. bad eating habits begat bad eating habits and bad eating habits make you fat, give you thyroid issues and type II diabetes. Every one can overcome anything, you have to be strong and get over yourself!
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