Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dear Kirstie Alley,

You seem like an intelligent person; I've admired your acting skills over the years. You seem eloquent and tuned in, except on one subject: weight.

Interviews like this one make me cringe for you and with you, Kirstie. There you are on Oprah's show, being watched by millions, most of them women, many of them, like you, beating themselves up over failed diet. How can you not know by now that it's not a question of your failure? That it's not like "falling off the wagon," as Oprah put it, but rather a basic scientific fact: Diets don't work.

Don't take my word for it. The nice researchers at UCLA did a study two years ago that showed that more than 90 percent of diets don't work--in fact, that dieters wind up gaining back all the weight and then some. Just as you did. Just as so many of us have done.

You say you feel bad because you've inspired so many people and now have let them down. I say you have an opportunity right now to inspire people in a much more meaningful way than before--you and Oprah both. You are both smart, powerful women with some of the best resources in the world at your fingertips. If you can't make your bodies look the way you want, maybe the problem isn't you. Maybe your bodies aren't meant to be size 2s or 4s. Maybe you are both tall, strong, powerful women who are built the way you're built because of genetics.

Maybe the real story here is this: What will it take to make you acknowledge your power in the world and use it for good? What will it take to help you stop wasting your time and emotions on an impossible quest?

You want to inspire other women? Try learning to love and accept yourself for who you are. Now that would be inspiring.

--From a fan


Pamalamb said...

"I say you have an opportunity right now to inspire people in a much more meaningful way than before--you and Oprah both."

mary said...


Kirsti story and even Valerie B's. has me quite disturbed. I love how you worded it Harriet. You ought to post it on Oprah's blog. She ought to know too that diets do not work because we just might not be meant to be anyone but who we are. We need to learn to be enough for ourselves. In fact I've been meaning to give a holler on her blog for some time.
Sometimes a change is needed, I will agree, but only for the purpose of health, not to be a number on the scale.

Go Harriet!

Ari J. Brattkus said...

Double Amen!!! Great post.

Anonymous said...

I too saw the show and cringed throughout. I felt so sorry for her. I do like her acting but she is far from an inspiring role model.

There is so much I can say about the show. I thought she looked terrible but not because of her weight. Her hair was bleached to the point where it is completely damaged and it hung in her face. I read into it that she felt guilty and had something to hide. Apparently gaining weight or not loosing is something one should feel great shame about.

She also had such unrealistic goals that even Oprah had to bring her down. She also hinted that she is coming out with a new diet program. Brace yourself for lots of coverage.

The real problem is that women are not permitted to be themselves and there are no meaningful acting roles for women over 40 because they are not valued because they are not young and attractive.

I am sure Kirstie is hurting (and I hurt for her) because she cannot act. She has been marginalized and disregarded by a world that only sees young as beautiful and beauty as the most important quality in a woman.

I just hated watch Kirstie wail that gaining weight was a living tragedy.

On a hopeful note - Susan Boyle has wowed the world with her singing, not her appearance. It seems like most female vocalists (and I don't know who the popular ones are anymore) must look like dolls or models, not real people.

Love your blog.


Harriet said...

I wish there was a way to post something on Oprah's blog, but I don't think there is. (Can't blame her. Imagine the trolls she would get!)

JennyRose, thanks for the comment and the nice words. I agree--it hurts to watch that video and hear that kind of self-loathing voiced.

Barbara Delaney said...

Let's not forget Oprah's yo-yoing in public. I think the worst thing for young women and their body image today is the prevalance of porn.A lot of surgically enhanced women with gigantic pneumatic breasts, wasp waist and boyish hips...a body that does not exist in nature. But men expect them to look like that.

Harriet said...

I think mainstream magazines and TV shows are a hell of a lot more prevalent than porn, and show just as unrealistic a body type.

Ari J. Brattkus said...

My 11 year old doesn't read porn, but she does get People Magazine...guess who is set to appear on the cover tomorrow -- Kristie Allie! Pornography indeed.