August 2, 2007 at 8:47 am
Star Jones recently wrote an article for Glamour magazine where she admits she had weight-loss surgery. For foreigners and people who do not pray at the altar of the cathode ray tube, Star Jones is an American television personality and former prosecutor who is best known for co-hosting a morning talk show called The View for almost 10 years. She was morbidly obese, but lost a lot of weight about three years ago. She was very evasive whenever asked about how she’d done it and sort of implied she’d done it through diet and exercise, but many people guessed she’d had weight-loss surgery.
I’m not really a Star Jones fan. When she got married, she pimped products on The View in exchange for free services and products at her wedding. When the show decided not to renew her contract last year, they gave her the option of making up a reason for why she was leaving. Instead, she ambushed her co-hosts one morning on live TV by unexpectedly mentioning her exit. The situation descended into nasty remarks and gossip fodder. I never liked that she wouldn’t say what she had done to lose weight. I don’t think weight-loss surgery is anything to be ashamed of and if this whole diet and exercise thing hadn’t worked out for me, I would have seriously considered it. It seemed sad that she wasn’t using her national platform to help eliminate some of the shame that comes with this procedure.
So, I never minded when people beat up on Star because I thought she deserved it. I didn’t have a blinding white hatred for her, but I did wish she’d just go away. Now after reading her article, I feel oddly sympathetic for the woman. Sure, she spouts the usual fat girl clichés like “food never judged me.” I’d really love it if someone marketed a line of ice cream that really did judge you, just because I think that would be hilarious in a dark and twisted way just like those fortune cookies with messages like “I peed in your soup.” But she also says this:
I was scared of what people might think of me. I was afraid to be vulnerable, and ashamed at not being able to get myself under control without this procedure.
When I see loud, opinionated people on TV, it’s easy to think they’re obstinate jerks who don’t have feelings that can be hurt. But this sentence made me think of Anne who has been blogging so eloquently about her own weight loss surgery at Body of Work and how she didn’t even tell her own mother that she’d had the procedure, until six months after surgery. If Anne was afraid to tell a member of her own family who loved her unconditionally, it’s hard to imagine what Star Jones must have felt about having to tell the whole freakin’ country. I kept this blog a complete secret for the first nine months I was writing it. I never even told my family about it, they just found it. My fat issues made me feel vulnerable too, and I can’t really fault Star Jones for not wanting to discuss her deep-seated emotional problems with her fat with a hundred million strangers.
I also never thought I’d have to explain it. I actually thought that I could say, “None of your business,” and people would say, “OK, she wants to remain private.”
Star Jones may have asked for a career on television and she might be a fame whore, but I don’t recall her ever asking to be our big, fat “fat” idol. I always disliked how she was so evasive about how she lost weight and I wished she had just held the line and said, “None of your business.” I was surprised to read that quote in her article and realize that’s how she wanted to go about it too. The media made it basically impossible. Because we do want to know how she did it. We are nosy and make comments about Nicole Richie’s rib cage and joke that she should eat a hamburger, but was also get pissed when people call Kate Winslet fat, even though it’s just the flip side of the same body-obsessed coin. Heads or tails. When in reality, her body really is her own business. She shouldn’t have to talk about it if she doesn’t want to just like Kelly Clarkson shouldn’t have to keep telling people she’s a healthy weight, God damn it.
I was also terrified someone would have a tragic result after emulating me without making an informed decision with her doctor.
I get a lot of people asking me what I eat or how much I exercise and I’m always very hesitant to answer them. I sometimes wonder if I should even tell people that I basically follow the South Beach Diet. I’m not a doctor and I’m not a nutritionist and I think everyone has to find something that works for their particular life and body, which is probably not going to be the South Beach Diet and Pilates for everyone. Thankfully, I haven’t heard of anyone dying on the South Beach Diet or killing themselves while attempting to do the Teaser. People do die from weight-loss surgery, so I understand why Star Jones would be concerned about how her decision might influence other people. I doubt that was the biggest reason she lied for so long, but I can’t completely ignore it either.
I’m still not a Star Jones fan, and I wish she’d just been upfront about the whole thing from the beginning. But I’m glad she’s finally admitted to having weight-loss surgery. It seems like a big personal step for her and I know there are lots of people who have similar feelings of shame about the procedure, so maybe her revelation will help them overcome that as well. Also, considering how many people still hate her even after she made the revelation, it seems kind of brave since she was basically damned if she did and damned if she didn’t. After lying for so long she put herself in a no-win situation and exhausted most of the sympathy anyone might have for her.
While I still reserve the right to think Star Jones is annoying, she is still in fact human, no matter how many people joke about her looking like a bobble-head doll. When I was at BlogHer is was so strange seeing “famous” bloggers walking around. There was Annalee Newitz who writes for Wired. And there was Amy Sedaris who even my mom thinks is hilarious on David Letterman. But at the “Blog to Book” panel Annalee Newitz was just sitting on the floor Indian style in her jeans like a college student and at the craft panel Amy Sedaris mentioned that she dripped tacky glue all over the carpet of her hotel room. So it occurred to me that, hey, they might be famous, but they are just people too. I admit, I tend to err on the side of forgiveness instead of the side of life-long grudges, simply because it’s a better way for me to live. Maybe I’m being too easy on her, but I’d like to think the best of people whenever possible. It would have been nice if she’d stepped up, but sometimes humans just screw things up and I can forgive Star Jones for being human. Hearing celebrities drone on and on about their weight-loss surgery can be annoying in itself. If I see Carnie Wilson in one more infomerical about gastric bypass, I’m going to dump a protein shake on her head. While I do not miss Star Jone’s presence on my television set at all, she is just a person, and she seems to be just as screwed up and neurotic as any of us. She just doesn’t flaunt her neuroticism on her blog like we do, she spews it all over national television.
I’m still not watching her new show though.