On Body Image and Radical Self Love


Can anyone tell me why I just purchase the PEOPLE magazine with Kirstie Alley on the cover next to the heading “Livin’ Large?” I’ve thought about it, over the last few minutes, I don’t really think I like her as an actress. Why did I buy this magazine? I watched Veronica’s Closet but that was for Kathy Najimy – who I love. I watched Look Who’s Talking, but not for HER. And what else has she done?

I KNOW why I bought it. It’s simple. The cover says she weighs 203lbs now, along with her quote “I like who I am.” I must have decided in that split second, that I needed to know HOW?! I mean – I am like any mentally warped, weight obsessed, insecure American woman. I am constantly wishing I was just a bit smaller, while simultaneously trying to just “be happy” no matter what size I am.

So – I purchased it on a quest to find out how she, at 203lbs, can be “happy” with herself, while I’m freaking out daily over gaining 20lbs since October. I mean, Christ, what is her secret? If she can be happy at 203, surely I can quit crying when I look in the mirror at my size. But I can’t.

My poor husband has to deal with my dressing room tears, my shouts to “stop looking at me!” when I’m getting dressed, and my closed eyes as I pass by a mirror naked. He’s always telling me I’m beautiful, and I get mad at him. Not that “Oh stop it!” flirty mad. But a genuine, honest to god, “Don’t LIE to me you son of a bitch!” mad. What is wrong with me?

Yet here is a woman, who smiles genuinely. She’s happy in her skin. She loves to cook and loves to eat what she cooks, and she’s proud of it. And she’s GORGEOUS. I want to see GORGEOUS when I look in the mirror, no matter what my size.

Kirstie Alley is my new hero. And I havent even opened the magazine yet.

Note from 2020: I’ve come a long way since this. First of all, I’m 50lbs heavier than I was when I wrote this and care much less about my weight/size than I ever did. I still have a long way to go, but I’d like to go on record saying that I have learned to not thinking about my body/weight/size nearly as much as I used to.

30 thoughts on “Confessions”

  1. I’m sorry to hear that you aren’t happy with your body. I know for me, being at peace with my body usually comes the easiest when I work out on a fairly regular basis. Perhaps you can try something like that? If you need someone to talk to, I’m here for ya.

  2. being happy in your skin is so hard. i know i fight with it every day. but, everyday i look in the mirror and tell myself i’m beautiful. it’s been really hard lately, but i still do it.

    try it, and god, don’t be afraid of the mirror! 🙂

  3. Kirstie Alley’s going to be in a new show soon. It’s called “Fat Actress”, or something, which is why they carried the article.

    According to an interview I saw on ET or something, she made one of those decisions to stay home with her kids once she started having them because she could (apparently that’s why she did the Pier 1 stuff, cos it was friendly to her kids’ schedule).

    As for being happy… No one is happy with how they look, not 100%. But if she’s content? And doesn’t care about other people’s opinions? That’s ok. Worrying about her health so she can be around for her kids later, that’s another story.

  4. Zoot, girl, you can take my words for a grain of salt, as I’m obviously out of my league here.

    I understand, though from the other side. I am constantly informed that I look fine, good, etc… I look in the mirror and see scrawny, ribs sticking out, and I dream about a few more pounds, and what the hell I can do to get them.

    And before the “I wish I had your problem” comments come out at warp speed – (not that you, sweet understanding Zoot would every say that – but if you’re moody, who knows. I’m a bitch somedays too. Like today while I’m PMSing and still typing all of this in PARANTHASIS. I can’t even spell it. wtf? this is a damn long comment) just remember you’re not alone. And they’re right.

    It’s a conscious effort. working out helps. really… at least it did for me. 🙂

    Of course, who I am to talk, I’m a stupid, scrawny, bitchy, sore, pain in the arse today. So ignore me. 🙂

    love you Zoot, just they way you are. As does MrZ, and I’m sure he means it.

  5. I could have written that post word for freakin word.

    Margaritas always help me forget about my lumpy thighs.

  6. Wow, no wonder people find it so damned hard to like themselves. Most of these comments to Zoot’s fabulous post are full of judgment and condecension. I am ashamed of some of you. Shame, shame.

    Zoot, I’ll be honest. I’ll never understand why you don’t like yourself. As one gay guy to one straight girl, you’re great just the way you are. I have found that the key to knowing this, as one whose had to deal with being fat and ugly his whole life, is 1. just to stop taking yourself so seriously, and 2. blowing completely out of proportion the things you DO like about yourself. After all, that’s what you’re doing with the things you don’t like. Completely out of proportion.

    Working out does indeed make you healthy, but it does nothing for body image. For people to say that it does? they’ve missed the whole point. If anything, working out makes someone with low body image hate their body more. It becomes their enemy. They become obsessed with it in new ways, and it lets them down in new ways.

    This society is so afraid of someone being fat, that they’d rather see someone work out everyday and go on constant diets and ruin their self-esteem not to mention suffer the unhealthy consequences of yo-yo weight rather than to just let someone be. This is evidenced in the tone of the posts that have the gual to accuse Alley of being an irresponsible mother. It’s like, “We can’t find anything else to hate her for, so let’s hate her for not living forever for her children. Because we can’t just say, “I hate you, you fat bitch!” Because that would expose us for the assholes that we are!” That is such bullshit. No one knows what’s going to happen in their or anyone else’s life. You can have a perfect BMI and drop dead at 21. You can be fat and chew tobacco, as my grandmother was and did, and outlive two of her children and die at 91. Life is a damned crapshoot. Get the fuck over it. And try a little harder to accept people for who they are and not what your judgmental asses want them to be.

    End of rant. Sorry.

  7. Hmm, as the formerly fat girl, currently playing the role of not quite as fat but certainly not thin yet, I think I’ll just say that she most likely isn’t 100% happy with herself. But I can understand her contentment. With a happy home life and people that love you as you are no matter what, it’s very easy to feel loved and accepted in that role. As far as being an actress, it’s obvious that she isn’t much of an “A” list star anymore. But then again, when was she ever that high in demand??

  8. you too? see, toddler and i go through all of that – except that when he lies and tells me i’m beautiful, i smile. and really try to believe him. but we worked on that. a lot. you know what cured me? a little? i went to the pool with three of my very skinniest friends last saturday – they’re all at least a couple of years younger than me. and you know what? in the sunlight? in bikinis? they all had cellulite, all had stretch marks, all had flab. so you know what? not only am i doing alright by comparison (alright, not great), but i have my toddler, who, somehow, really, really thinks i’m pretty. my body, my face, my insides. he likes to watch me get dressed for work in the morning. strange but true. so i’m forcing myself to go with it . . . with moderate success. i’m also just trying to eat healthy and actually go to the gym . . .also with moderate success. but i’ve been happier and it’s my pms week – so there J

    having said all of that – you are gorgeous, stupid! and two things i hate about myself, my feet and my hair – you got perfect. and i’m very jealous! so there again!

    and also, kirstie alley? totally full of shit!

  9. I am taking this opportunity to STFU as only a person who named themselves after their favorite ice cream can.

    BTW, I love Kirstie Alley. Really really.

  10. Ok, after reading Scott’s comment I’m very ashamed of bashing poor Kirsty just because she’s a terrible actress. I’m not sure why she should be in a magazine for being happy abour her size, but it sounds like alot of people are not, so it must be special enough to sell magazines.

    In all the fluff about Kirsty, I totally missed Zoot’s big point:

    “I want to see GORGEOUS when I look in the mirror, no matter what my size.”

    Don’t worry about that Zoot. I think you’re there. I think its the red hair and smart-ass smirk that does it. Be happy. 🙂

  11. I feel that I must defend the gym (and indirectly, the well-intentioned commenters) after Scott’s comment. While Scott may find that the gym “makes someone with low body image hate their body more,” I can’t agree that this is always the case. Clearly it can sometimes be true, but just as clearly to me, it is not always true. I go to the gym. I’m not the most toned, svelte person there but I find a great deal of solace, even satisfaction, in thinking “I may not be perfect but I’m here, I can do a full weight-lifting class, I can run 10k in under an hour, and I can put my heels down in downward dog. So what if you can’t count my ab muscles individually.”

  12. Scott, I think you missed the point of those comments about “working out to make you feel better.” What they mean is that when you work out (more cardio vascular workouts) you release endorhpins (ok, is that the right hormone??? And is that how it’s spelt?) Anyway, it’s a hormone that’s released into your body that makes you feel good. And whether you are having physical results from your workout or not doesn’t matter in this sense. And it’s not about doing a hard workout. Just something that’s a bit of excersize. Just doing that excersize just makes you feel better.

    Zoot, and I’m sorry about how you feel about yourself. I too am not to thrilled with the way I look. (Daniel hates shopping with me, your post could have come out of my mouth.) But at the same time I’m not complaining about it all the time because I know I can do something about it, and I know it’s just my own fault and laziness for not keeping myself in shape. (reasons why I almost never post full body photos of myself) But you? Are beautiful and sexy and it’s too bad you don’t see that yourself. There are plenty of us who just get a little bit jealous when you post your pictures of yourself 😉

    But also, it’s only natural in this scociety, no matter how great you really look, to be doubtful of yourself. Just know you are one of the ones who’s worrying for NOTHING 😉

  13. Whew. OK. I don’t know whether to be pissed off at some of these comments or really proud that there are people like this in the world.

    Zoot, honey? you are gorgeous. and what you need to discover is that it is okay to admit that to yourself. 20 pounds can come off with just a little bit of work and backing off (i KNOW you don’t want to hear this) of the Krispy Kreme. OK, or NOT– don’t kill me for saying that! Your weight gain probably is part of your longing for a baby– something is missing and you are filling it with food. Most of the time, when people gain weight, it has some deep emotional stuff behind it. Figure it out, NOW. Before it gets bad.

    For someone who has gone to VERY extreme measures to lose weight– Aside from other emotion issues, MOST of my weight gain was caused by obsessing about my weight in the first place. I was thin once, but curvy as well and thought that I was fat when I weighed 125. Now. What I did wrong, was crazily diet when I didn’t really need to, get burned out, gorge for a while, and then starve myself agian, thereby GAINING tons of weight (DOUBLE my first number–and that was my highest weight) and destroying my metabolism and getting 15 gallstones by the age of 24.
    I can tell you that NO ONE FEELS GOOD at 250lbs, hell, I didn’t at 203 either. And it sucks, bad. However– I think that Kirstie Alley has come to terms with her weight and says that she is happy for reasons only she could know. And she MAY like what she sees in the mirror (i know I don’t and didn’t even when I was thin) but I can tell you that at 203 she is NOT healthy and she is going to discover that it is very hard to keep up with her children at that weight. NOt to mention fitting into airplane seats.
    WHat I DO think is that if she really was very unhappy with herself and WANTED to change–which is totally her right to or not, the media should shut up– she could go and do what I did: get some help. Get a lap-band, see a counselor to find out WHY she gained the weight in the first place (there has to be SOME reason), get some exercise. And then address the things that you shoved down your throat. I’ve discovered that being thin is not what is going to make me “happy.”
    Sure, I will be thrilled when the rest of the weight comes off, but that doesn’t mean that I will feel good about myself all the time, or that I won’t have to deal with issues that affect my happiness.

    Which makes me think that maybe Kirstie has come to deal with other factors in her life that upset her, so that weight just seem minuscule. Who knows?

    Sorry for the rant– you know the judgemental weight thing is my soapbox right now.

  14. No, Tjej, I think I understood them just fine. I am not saying that it won’t work for everyone, but most people with body image problems have them not because of any rational reason. It’s a mental illness, and no amount of endorphines is going to make it go away. Hence, the Olsen twin whose an anorexic. She’s not anorexic because she’s even fat, she’s anorexic because she is not happy with who she sees in the mirror. She has become obsessive-compulsive over her body.

    I have nothing per se against people who work out a lot. I admire them. However, I do have very hard feelings against people who do not take the time to understand a problem and just offer a pat answer like, “You need to work out. That will make you feel better about your body,” without even bothering to think about what’s causing this in the first place. It is such a talk show answer. It pisses me off. Because, in reality, its subtext perpetuates the problem. It is saying, “Something is wrong with you and you need to fix it.” Although well-intentioned, it sometimes comes off as condescending regardless.

  15. Zooty Zoot Zoot. I hear you, as a lot of women do. I am perpectually 25lbs away from liking myself.
    I feel your pain.

    And Kirstie Alley? Shitty actress but she looks good a little pudgy.
    Besides she’s a scientologist she doesn’t need talent

  16. First of all? I’m ashamed of NO ONE here. I understand exactly where everyone is coming from. Scott? I know these people personally, none of them meant any of what you think they meant. Most of them? Are struggling with health and weight problems and were just sheading their own light.

    No one was saying “You’re fat. Fix it. Work out” And no one is judging Kirstie’s parenting. I know these people and none of them mean anything heartless or judemental. These people are some of the LEAST judgemental people I’ve ever met in my life!!

    Love to you all. Thanks for your comments and your encouragement. I swear I wasnt fishing for compliments, but I’ll take them! You are all beautiful (just like me). Scott, thanks for stopping by. I love you too and I hope Arizona is treating you well.

  17. Thanks for the heads up on the article. I just read it and while it’s good, it doesn’t have any secrets on how to be happy with your body no matter what. I think it’s really just a conscious decision that you make and keep making until you believe it. I know I’m much happier with my body now than I was a year ago, but I have been working on being healthy and that’s a huge factor.

  18. can you really be happy if your bmi is over 30? I know I am physically uncomfortable, and I while I think it’s possible to be accepting, and not hateful toward yourself if you’re overweight I don’t think it’s possible to feel fabulous…i think Ms. Alley may be in a teensy bit of denial.

  19. Forget that her BMI is over 30, how about that her employability is below zero? She hasn’t been in any movie/TV spot worth anything in years. I hope she saved her money from doing the Cheers show because she’s a dreadful actress.

  20. This topic is such a hard one. It’s about the way you are raised and what you see in the media. All that factors into what women think about themselves. And after having a child you are never the same! I hate to say it, but I think with age women come to accept their bodies.

  21. Any comment I would make about Kirstie Alley or our society’s weight obsession has already been said. But I will say that I used to be a devoted (and half-closeted) People reader until I realized how sappy it is. When you’re done reading about Ms Alley and all the other heartwarming/depressing articles, you should go buy Us Weekly or In Touch for a bit of guilty fun!

  22. I know I’m always late with my comments when I post on your blog, but I have to say that you are one of the most beautiful girls I ever met online, and you look great, Zoot!

    When your husband tells you that you look beautiful, I know he’s not lying because I can see it here for myself in your photoblog!

    Your husband is very Lucky to have you, Zoot!

    Have a nice weekend, Zoot, and go to the beach with your family and have a good time!

  23. I definitely agree with Scott that Zoot is too gorgeous to be unhappy with how she looks, but good god, do I ever understand? I HATE my body now, and I know that at the weight I’m at, I should. But I also hated my body 50 pounds ago.

    And, as much as I wish I didn’t, I judge people in Hollywood who don’t look a certain way. I know I shouldn’t. I know it’s wrong. But they put themselves in a position to be held to that higher standard, in a sense.

    It’s hard not to judge celebrities, especially when you’re taught to by society and you’re already judging yourself so much more harshly (or at least I am!!).

    I do, though, know people who are bigger girls and completely comfortable in their skin. They wear clothes I wouldn’t dream of wearing and I admire them for it. I don’t know if they are as in love with themselves as they could be skinny, but they don’t hate their bodies like I hate mine.

    We love you, too, Zoot. And you’re beautiful. And, FYI, I think you’d be just as beautiful 20 pounds heavier or 20 pounds thinner.

    One major problem I have is that we view heavy women (which you are not, but I’m making a point here) as beautiful DESPITE their weight, like “She has a pretty face” or “She’d be so pretty if she lost weight.” Um, hello? Heavy women can be beautiful even with the weight, thank you very much.

  24. I hate myself for saying I SHOULD hate my body in the first paragraph. Obviously it was Freudian because I do feel that way in many ways, but I hate to put that hate of myself into the world.

    Sorry and grrrr….

  25. Can I just say I think you’re beatiful. From the pictures you post I see a beautiful woman with a simular body. No need to cry girl! 🙂

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