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Celebrity Spot-Lite: Kirstie Alley

September 26, 2011

I conducted a very scientific poll last night about media phenom, Kirstie Alley.  And by “very scientific poll,” I mean that I asked my brother, mother, father, and 4 of my dear friends this question:

What is the first word that comes to mind when I say: “Kirstie Alley”?

And the answers were as follows:

Fat
Ugh
Dancing with the Stars
Inconsistent
It Takes Two
Loud
Nut

Ah, Kirstie, Kirstie, Kirstie! Those are some pretty rough words, girl. And now, I’d like to add my own: HOT MESS!

You’d have to be living in a small dank hole in the middle of a potato field in Idaho (no offense to any Ida-ho’s reading this!) to not have heard about the walking disaster that is Kirstie Alley in the past year or so but, in case you haven’t seen the sunlight in months and/or don’t have an internet connection (wait, that is antithetical to this blog…just go with me here), I am here to catch you up! Just what you always wanted.

Which one is Kirstie Alley? Either? Neither? Who knows.

Basically, I’m going to let Wikipedia sum up Kirstie’s life trajectory and then I’ll take it from there:

Huh. Well said, Wikipedia, well said. Basically, the holy trinity of what Kirstie is now known for (other than “Cheers”) is: DWTS, her never-ending battle with weight, and the absurdly over-focused on “religion” she is a member of. And, as was shown by the answers that my random scientific sample gave me, she has done quite an excellent job of maintaining this trinity in popular culture and (unfortunately) in all of our ingrained psyches.

But this is a blog about the weight loss industry/media, and thus of course that is the area that we shall focus on the most. If today you were to google, say “Kirstie Alley weight,” the only information you would come across would be about her most recent “100 POUND WEIGHT LOSS!!!!‘ But does anyone remember the show “Fat Actress,” from the long-ago year of 2005, when it seemed like Kirstie was embracing herself as a bigger woman in an absurdly sizeist industry? Then Kirstie decided that it would be a healthy idea to lose some weight, and thus began her spokeswomanship for Jenny Craig.  Kistie had a successful run with that, losing 75 pounds and strutting her stuff on Oprah. And what if you were to google all this in 2008? Well, you’d come up with “Kirstie Alley Officially Steps Away from Jenny Craig Ads,” after she struggled to keep off her 75-pound weight loss with the program and thus no longer could be the spokesperson of the diet company. Which leads us to the year 2009…with “Kirstie Alley Apologizes for Weight Gain” on national television, after showing off her “new” body on Oprah thanks to Jenny Craig and then, well, gaining all the weight back and then some.

Oh Kirstie

But do you see where I’m going with this? We’ve been here before, Kirstie. And now you’re celebrating your most recent 100 pound weight loss which, while I admit is quite impressive, feels very familiar as, again, you are throwing yourself into the eye of the media in every possible way, cavorting in fashion shows, sharing your TMI feelings on postponing your love life so you wouldn’t have to engage in “fat sex,” and, but of course, starting up your own diet company. If anyone has shown that weight loss is a constant struggle that requires daily attention and care, YOU have, Kirstie Alley, and yet you continue to turn yourself into a public spectacle, the attention of almost exclusively mockery and derision. Now, am I blaming the victim here? Sure, there are countless websites dedicated to tracking Kirstie’s weight loss, countless pundits offering up unsolicited criticism and jokes at her expense (Dave Letterman blaming the recent earthquake on her doing jumping jacks, anyone?), countless terrible horrible photos and images produced of her that would be enough to send any rational person into hiding for the rest of their lives, and yet here Kirstie still is, fighting the good fight, continuing to battle her weight and, when she wins that battle, demanding continuously that she is a “size 4“…isn’t that inspiring? Shouldn’t we be celebrating her most recent weight loss, not criticizing her for it? Not dredging up the past but cheering her on for the future? Well, I would. I myself struggle with my own weight on a regular basis–I’m up and I’m down, I make good choices and bad choices–but I do not go around shouting this from the hilltops and demanding attention for every pound. Well, why should weight loss and the struggles associated with it be stigmatized? They absolutely should not be. Which is why I make an effort every week to celebrate those who are INSPIRING themselves and others on this ever-difficult journey of dealing with weight.

Except, with Kirstie, this is one giant elephant in the room (I could make a joke here, but I clearly won’t) that makes this situation completely different: Kirstie Alley is obviously as addicted to attention as she is to food, and she is doing absolutely nothing worth celebrating to actually deal with either of these. And the more she feeds on one, the more she’ll feed on the other, and the more the media will feed on both. Do you see what I’m saying? I am not talking about public apologies, or magazine interviews, or reality TV shows following her every move…I’m talking about living by example, living by your words, living for yourself. Because all Kirstie seems to care about is what everyone else thinks, what everyone else knows about her, what everyone else sees. And thus she is perpetuating many negative stereotypes about weight, about weight loss struggles, about the ways that people treat themselves for the sake of others, for the sake of attention. And if she’s not doing it for herself, why should we not believe that in 2012 (although hopefully the world will have come to a gracious end by then…just kidding?) when we google “Kirstie Alley weight” (although I obviously admit that it’s sick that we have this kind of information out there, and such a huge quantity of it at that) that we won’t find her sitting in Oprah’s replacement’s (WHO WILL IT BE AND WHEN WILL IT HAPPEN?!) chair, “publicly apologizing” for putting back on her DWTS weight and promising that it won’t happen again? Do it for yourself, Kirstie. Or it’s just not really worth doing at all.

(Images courtesy of MomzInTheMix, fun blog!, and New York Daily News)

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Alia permalink
    September 26, 2011 5:12 pm

    But isn’t this post just one more example of “the media” criticizing/critiquing someone about how they’re approaching their weight? Shouldn’t we be, if anything, trying to understand and empathize, as best we can, why Kirsti Alley is doing the things she’s doing, and taking into account the pressures she has from all sides? You talk about the need for attention, her desire to please other people, to care about what other people think. First, I think those are actually pretty human behaviors, and if you’re a celebrity, existing in a really messed up celebrity-culture already, that makes extra sense. You say “do it for yourself Kirsti” but don’t give her any support, and that’s not fair.

  2. September 26, 2011 6:06 pm

    In theory, I agree with what you’re saying. Shouldn’t we be blaming the system (the media’s hyper-fascination with weight) that has created this situation instead of the purported “victim” of it? The problem is that Kirstie Alley is no victim–she has continuously created a media frenzy around her weight, demanding attention for every phase, at every moment then what kind of support is she expecting? She has turned herself into a terrible joke and is perpetuating this role at every turn.

  3. September 26, 2011 6:25 pm

    I think it is also important to draw attention to the monetary kick back that accompanies this media frenzy. She is making tons of money (which she seems to then want to give to the church of scientology and their thetan ridding agenda – what?). The levels of exploitation are onion-like and in my opinion Kristie is both exploiter and exploited. For some reason prostitution is coming to mind as a parallel. Has there been any literature about Fatsploitation and its parallels with prostitution?

  4. September 27, 2011 10:36 am

    HH mentioning “celebrating” and celebrities got me thinking: is a celebrity a person our society celebrates for something outstanding they have done? The synonyms for “celebrity” are fascinating: big wig [no pun intended, Kirsti], dignitary [wow, from the same route as “dignified” [turn your face away, Kirsti], luminary [light the way for us,Kirsti], magnificence, importance, and [saddest of all] excellence, and lots of other neat attributes. I largely ignore Kirsti and her ilk that exploit the public’s attention for their own immediate financial gain, but if we assume that the media only goes to all that trouble to sell to the public what it demands, the isn’t the real question here: why are so many people so interested in her weight-centered antics? HH is on to something here that I hope continues to be revealed: this persistent, consuming [no pun intended], pervasive, fascination and focus on weight [up and down, increasing and decreasing, excess and meager,etc] that occupies so much of our social attention.

  5. Stargazer permalink
    September 27, 2011 10:37 am

    HH mentioning “celebrating” and celebrities got me thinking: is a celebrity a person our society celebrates for something outstanding they have done? The synonyms for “celebrity” are fascinating: big wig [no pun intended, Kirsti], dignitary [wow, from the same route as “dignified” [turn your face away, Kirsti], luminary [light the way for us,Kirsti], magnificence, importance, and [saddest of all] excellence, and lots of other neat attributes. I largely ignore Kirsti and her ilk that exploit the public’s attention for their own immediate financial gain, but if we assume that the media only goes to all that trouble to sell to the public what it demands, the isn’t the real question here: why are so many people so interested in her weight-centered antics? HH is on to something here that I hope continues to be revealed: this persistent, consuming [no pun intended], pervasive, fascination and focus on weight [up and down, increasing and decreasing, excess and meager,etc] that occupies so much of our social attention.

  6. Stargazer permalink
    September 27, 2011 10:38 am

    Sorry, I messed up the posting and my remarks came out as being written by HH. Was not HH, was me, Stargazer.

  7. Fedora permalink
    September 30, 2011 1:21 am

    hot mess. if it wasnt weight, itd be something else.

  8. June 7, 2013 3:34 am

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    • June 12, 2013 8:00 pm

      That’s great! I’d love to hear more about your project. Thanks for visiting and the feedback!

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