Fat, Media

Well, Now That You Mention It, I Am in the Market for a Bridge!

For all my cynicism, I can be such a freakin’ Pollyanna sometimes, you have no idea. For instance, when I read this line from Fat Fu

(For the record I find Huckabee’s assumption of moral superiority over his weight loss especially irritating, since I’m about 80% sure he’s had weight loss surgery.)

I was scandalized. For real. You mean… you mean… he might have had the surgery and LIED ABOUT IT? Or just NOT TOLD ANYONE? And then gone out there and started banging the anti-obesity drum and acting like he just lost all this weight by eating vegetables and exercising? SOMEONE WOULD DO THAT?

Totally never occurred to me. Because, of course, politicians are usually so honest and would never encourage people to live up to an impossible standard that they themselves fail to meet.

I know, I know. I comfort myself with the old adage Liss whipped out somewhere in the comments recently, that only a thief is constantly worried that people are trying to steal from him. I figure the reverse must also be true, right? Only an honest person constantly assumes people are basically honest, despite abundant evidence to the contrary?

Or, you know, only a complete idiot constantly assumes people are as clueless as she is. Whatever.

I got to thinking about this again a few days later, when the “news” about Star Jones’s upcoming Glamour article came out. Star Jones will finally address rumors that she had gastric by-pass surgery! (Oh, THANK GOD.)

But see, in that case, my cluelessness worked in the other direction; I had no idea that Star Jones had never publicly admitted to having weight loss surgery. I assumed that was a confirmed fact, and everybody knew it. Not because I’m clever enough to read between the lines, but just because… I totally thought I read that somewhere. Huh.

Then I started thinking about other people I’ve heard WLS rumors about. Sara Rue leaps to mind:

When I first heard that theory floated, I had the same basic reaction as to the Huckabee theory, only moreso. First, SOMEONE WOULD DO THAT? — and then second, Sara Rue wasn’t anywhere near big enough to qualify for surgery! She was, like, a size 8/10, max! If someone had just told her that drop-waist dresses are not her friend, she wouldn’t have even looked a little bit fat before! (Yeah, yeah, Hollywood standards. We’re getting to that in a minute.)

Now, I have absolutely no idea if Sara Rue had surgery or just went apeshit with dieting and exercise, but I do know this: a good friend of mine, who started out thinner than I am and therefore totally didn’t qualify for WLS in the States, ran off to Mexico without telling anyone and got herself a lap-band. They’re handing out bands to anyone with enough money and self-loathing down there, and people in L.A. don’t even need a plane ticket. So it’s utterly ridiculous of me to think that an actress who makes a living with her body, has publicly expressed frustration with losing roles for being “fat,” and has publicly gotten pissed off at people who called her “plus-sized” wouldn’t do the same. Yet my gut reaction to the Sara Rue-mor was still, “No! Couldn’t be!”

You see what I’m saying about the Pollyanna thing?

So when all these thought molecules started banging against each other in my tiny brain, it finally dawned on me: holy shit, this is dangerous.

When even I, a devoted student of fat, keep failing to grok that celebrities might be secretly having their guts renovated, what are the chances that, say, your average adolescent girl is going to catch on?

It’s bad enough that the standard is set by people who can afford personal trainers and chefs, and who get paid millions to be as thin as possible.

And it’s bad enough that magazines turn Faith Hill into Jessica Simpson, and the average reader has no idea a 39-year-old woman doesn’t actually look like that.

And it’s bad enough that some already skinny celebrities take sketchy, illegal pills (not to mention good old fashioned cocaine and meth) to, you know, make their collarbones really pop.

But for celebrities and public figures to have surgery to lose weight, and act like they just laid off the cheeseburgers for a couple months? That is beyond the fucking pale, y’all. That is some horrifying, eating disorder-inspiring shit. And given my high degree of cluelessness, I’m sure it happens much more than I realize.

Where does it fucking end?

27 thoughts on “Well, Now That You Mention It, I Am in the Market for a Bridge!”

  1. I know a young woman who had the surgery and tried NOT telling her boyfriend, who of course, figured it out.
    When I had it I told freaking everyone. Bad enough I was living with any fat shame, no way was I going to live with wls shame. Plus I’m just a blabbermouth. But also, celebrities aside… it’s a fuck of a lot to cover up from the people around you. I was recovering from major major surgery and I was dropping pounds in front of your eyes and I was throwing up. a lot in my corporate ladies room. What kind of stupid cover story was I supposed to come up with?
    On the Sara Rue size issue… sadly, she probably did qualify. Keep in mind how much more most of us weigh than people think… according to all the charts and measures, women who in my opinion look pretty damn fabulous (a la Ms Sara) do qualify. I’ve seen them, and it’s shocking.
    When I decided to have it, I was a size and shape that no one questioned. What I did get a lot of was… I never knew you were unhappy with your size; you seem so comfortable with yourself.
    I’m still a long story, I suppose.

  2. I’m still a long story, I suppose.

    Aren’t we all, Roberta. :)

    I should clarify that the friend I mentioned did tell her husband before she went, and has been totally open with telling people since it was done. She just kept quiet beforehand because she didn’t want to be judged or talked out of it. She’s mysterious, not batshit crazy.

  3. I am also 99% sure Huckabee had WLS. I know a political reporter in Arkansas who said the press down there know it but are scared to report it. For one thing, not long after he lost all that weight, Huckabee had a hernia operation, and a hernia is a common side effect of WLS.

    More tellingly — how many people do you know who who are 40 or older, who have been fat all their life, and then suddenly and rapidlly not only lose 100+ pounds, but keep manage to keep it off, too?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    Btw, Huckabee is a wholly owned subsidiary of the food industry, which is such a big and powerful part of Arkansas’s economy. He’s extremely useful for the food industry because he frames obesity as being solely a matter of “personal responsibility” — “and if I can lose all that weight so can you” etc. etc. And of course, if obesity is solely a matter of personal responsibility, there’s no point in trying to regulate the food industry, is there?

    What a pathetic tool he is.

  4. Wow. Yeah, I’ll be hanging in the Pollyanna corner with you, Kate. I don’t know why the Huckabee thing hadn’t even occurred to me until someone else floated the idea, and then – like you – I was seriously just gobsmacked. “Wha-??? No WAY!”

    But then I read Vulture’s comment here and I think, “Well gosh, in that case, Huckabee’s job relies as heavily on framing fat as a ‘personal responsibility’ issue as Sara Rue and any other Hollywood celebrity’s job relies on maintaining a certain (thin) appearance standard.” In that context, WLS only makes sense for Huckabee, and I’m sure was probably something he looked at as a necessary “investment” in his career.

    Which – good grief. How long until WLS is trotted out as some kind of investment in the average, middle class working stiff’s career?

  5. How long until WLS is trotted out as some kind of investment in the average, middle class working stiff’s career?

    Not long, I think. My mentor gave me a free multi-pass to a gym last year for Christmas, and I suspect the underlying issue is that she’s worried that my career may be harmed being the size I am. And I’m a public health researcher, not a celebrity-wanna be. (No, I don’t research nutrition, obesity, exercise or anything like that.) I can’t find the article now, but the head of the MA Department of Public Health had WLS, and the story accompanied the press announcement of the expert panel guidelines on WLS (http://www.guideline.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=5949).

    I know my advisor meant well… but I never told her how much that hurt my feelings.

    And Kate — I too TOTALLY didn’t think of that until I saw FatFu’s post. I’ll take the perspective that we’re too honest to see the dishonesty in others :)

  6. It’s so fascinating how we completely misconstrue how much people actually weigh based on appearance. I’ve been talking to my partner about all the things that I’m learning and how I feel about size acceptance and fat activism, and he said, “Can you be a fat activist? You aren’t exactly the fat stereotype.” I have an hour glass figure with a prominant ass and thighs, but I was a little shocked by this statement. I had to point out to him that my BMI, combined with high blood pressure qualifies me for bariatric surgery.

    Still, all this is very sad to me. I recently read about a study out of Australia that talked about the slowing down of obesity rates among children and teens, but a drastic increase in the number of teens who report engaging in vomitting, laxative use and smoking to help control their weight. It’s awful.

    I am now going to engage in a shameless bit of self-promotion…I started a seperate blog to write about this stuff, too. It’s bringing up so much for me that I wanted a place to write about it and didn’t want my personal blog to be a single issue blog. If you want to visit me it’s at http://steatopygiaspins.blogspot.com.

  7. I come firmly down on the honesty thing for this! I didn’t consider WLS for Huckabee,- I don’t know the Rue woman, and although I don’t usually say this kind of thing, in the first picture she looked gorgeous, genuinely, in the second, kind of like one of those pinch faced ladies who lunch types, still pretty, sans her SHINE, that’s probably looksist or something, so apologies- anyway, as I was saying, I was disabused (I thought) of my innocence on this one by Roseanne, her talk show was shown here years ago, and she said, that she knew that a certain formerly fat celebrity had had the surgery and was touting her weight loss as diet/exercise induced, and released an exercise video.
    My gast had never been so flabbered. I couldn’t get over not only the dishonesty but the fact that none of the press hounds were busting a gut (yeah!) to expose it. It STILL doesn’t come into my mind! Although when other people finally wake me up I am only surprised that my mind doesn’t automatically come up with this. Huh?!

  8. I counted myself as a fan of Sara Rue. I watched her in “Popular” as I was going through puberty, and I watch her now in “Less Than Perfect”, but I don’t recognise her in the right hand picture.

    With just a little weight on, she had character, charisma, and natural beauty, and I lusted after her. In her new image she looks uncomfortable and a hell of a lot less sexy. Its a shame she felt the need to change.

  9. Sara Rue is about half the size she was when she made Gypsy 83. That’s all I’m gonna say here.

    As for Suckabee, I wouldn’t put it past him to get his stomach amputated and then upbraid everyone else for not being as “good” as he is. Has anyone actually seen him eat since he got skinny? If he’s careful never, ever to take a meal or beverage in public, where it would be obvious (WLS patients have to eat tiny, tiny bites and chew and chew and chew them endlessly, plus can’t slug any cold beverages, or they’ll get really really sick), then that would be a big fat hint that he’s had the surgery.

  10. I’m interested to see if Star really comes out with it, how she frames it, how the media frames it, and whether it even makes a difference (since it’s sort of obvious enough that people just take for granted that she had it).

    The mom of one of my best friends had WLS a year or several ago and IMMEDIATELY started holding it over her fat daughters’ heads like she was holier than thou. Recently my friend’s dad started an exercise program at work (which I’m pretty sure is sort of a WL competition, but anyway) and so her mom started to excercise some. After about a week she heard her mom telling someone how she’d lost so much weight from diet and exercise. If you didn’t know her and watch that obvious change, you might not know. So it’s definetely not only celebrities who try to do this. My friend also told me that pretty much EVERYONE at her work has had some form of WLS, so much so that it’s creepy. After she told me that, I had a few other people tell me that a bunch of people at their place of work had it.

    Then, just yesterday I read about an online friend of mine who was sitting at work on break with someone who was talking about all the food he was eating. Then another person came over and said told him to watch out not to get too fat to find any other work and THEN proceeded to tell my friend that well, wasn’t she past that already?

    The way that this kind of talk and “weight loss” programs are weaving their way into the workplace and corporations in general really disturbs me…and they tie it into this medical and insurance crap too. Blech.

  11. Sarah Rue used to be drop dead gorgeous, luscious and self-confident with an air of strength. She lost that and looks like every other bony starlet now. Sad.

  12. I don’t know who Sarah Rue is, TV is kind of foreign to me anymore, but I do understand the concept of the ‘fat fight’ going to everyday people. My good friend just had a tummy tuck and lipo in her thighs. It broke my heart to watch her go through all this. And still, yes, still, after it was all done she went in and wanted to know why the doctor didn’t take more? What a traumatic thing to put your body (mind and spirit) through in the name of looking like society’s ideal of beautiful. *sigh* And then to still not be happy with it all. . .

  13. It’s such a sick society where people (a) feel the need to have WLS to improve their careers and (b) feel the need to lie about it.

    I’m not surprised that people take personal pride in their weight loss after WLS. Not only is there a lot of social pressure to do so, but I think it’s kind of built in to being human to find it difficult to separate the effects of external medical interventions from the effects of their own actions. (I notice stuff like feeling proud that my cholesterol has gone down, when it’s because I took a pill. Ack.)

  14. To be fair to Sara Rue, I think she looks beautiful — though almost scary-thin — in the “after” picture. I just also think she looks beautiful in the before picture (although she obviously wasn’t posing as confidently in that one, and I hate the dress on her).

    Being thin isn’t a bad thing. I think Sara Rue is an incredibly gorgeous woman at every size I’ve seen, but if she got to this size by dubious means and lied about it, shame on her.

    Also, I hope for her sake she learns that she’s an incredibly gorgeous woman, full stop, before she gains it all back.

  15. I think the worst part of all of this is that it just feeds into the “Just diet harder” mentality which suggests that weight loss is easy, achievable and safe. Not a bit of which is true with stomach amputation surgeries.

    Frankly, Star Jones obviously had WLS and was repeatedly misleading about it. “Coming clean” now is only going to be interesting for no one is going to point out how often she lied about it. Huckabee would be interesting because he probably wouldn’t be allowed to get away with it, except for the fact that no one cares about his candidacy anyway.

  16. “I know a political reporter in Arkansas who said the press down there know it but are scared to report it.” You mean you know a friend of a friend of a political reporter in Arkansas. ;-)

    Huckabee doesn’t want to appear to be making endorsements, so he doesn’t talk much about the details of his weight loss, which perhaps helps to fan these urban legends.

    But all the “political reporters” and other reporters in Arkansas know that he participated in the medically supervised 15-week protein shake program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2003.

    Here’s the scoop on the program

  17. Well, I always assumed Huckabee lost all that weight because he was diabetic. I had a friend who was an undiagnosed diabetic and she was dropping weight like crazy, no matter how much she ate. I just figured that was the same thing that happened to him. Then, when he got diagnosed, they put him on some crazy strict diet that kept his weight down. But of course, the fact that he has a disease that actively works against his body wouldn’t have anything to do with his loss would it? No no. It was all determination and grit. *sigh*

  18. For one thing, not long after he lost all that weight, Huckabee had a hernia operation, and a hernia is a common side effect of WLS.

    I was just discussing this on Big Fat Deal. A former coworker of my mine and a friend had gastric bypass. When you loose a great deal of weight so quickly, your skin doesn’t catch up. Many WLS patients opt to have a tummy tuck or pannectomy operation. But, most insurance companies consider this to be cosmetic in nature and won’t pay for it. At $10k, it’s not something the average joe can afford to do.

    But, if you have to have surgery for a hernia, most doctors throw in the tummy tuck as a bonus. Or, it may be part of the surgery. Who knows. But this coworkers we had deliberately set out to make herself have a hernia so that she could get the free tummy tuck. Only it didn’t work out so well for her. She died as a result of complications from the hernia and hernia surgery.

  19. I saw Sarah Rue in person at a movie premiere about 4 years, ago, right after “Less Than Perfect” had started airing. In person, she looked like a normal-sized (if tall) woman. And yes, very pretty.

  20. Now Sara Rue has made the mistake that Jennifer Grey did: alter her appearance so drastically that she’s unrecognizable. (I so agree with the person who said that Rue now looks like all the other cookie-cutter thin people in Hollywood.)

    This is not a smart move for someone who wants to build on past accomplishments!

  21. The tummy tuck can be considered medically necessary if the doctor knows how to word the request. A friend of mine had hers paid for by insurance after her VBG because she had so much loose skin that it was breaking down in the creases and splitting.
    The treatments for the infections she got were so expensive that the insurance company opted to pay for the removal of that loose abdominal skin.

  22. I love these comments, Kate. I’m going to start calling him ‘Mike Suckabee.’ I love that. Wish I had been using it for the past few months. The guy is a suck-ass loser, regardless of his size. Also, wait until he finally realizes that — fat or not — he is descended from chimps!

    Stupid asshole.

  23. Mr. Huckaby did not have weight loss surgery, but the liquid diet he was on probably was just as traumatic as it was dramatic. I went to UAMS to a seminar on the method he used, a liquid type diet, and quite frankly couldn’t afford it. The weight will fall off, but, if you noticed, he didn’t look very healthy for quite some time after his dramatic loss.
    Having been diagnosed as diabetic, I suppose he felt this was the quickest way to lose a lot of weight in a short time, and be under doctor supervision while doing it. However, I also felt that he was a little bit holier than thou, since his weight was lost this way, and he didn’t have to deal with the day to day choices most of us on a diet must make. Try it in the real world, Mike, and you might still be struggling.

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