Prolific television producer/writer Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder) lost 150 pounds over the past couple of years through portion control and exercise. She said back in late 2015, when she had lost around 120 pounds, that she had a wake up call when she was too large to use the seatbelt on an airplane. Now that Shonda has lost even more weight, she wrote an article for her Shondaland newsletter in which she described what it’s like to suddenly be treated differently by everyone. She said that women gush over her and that men who previously ignored her will now talk to her extensively.
In her new Shondaland newsletter, the uber-producer behind Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal reflects on how her recent weight loss of “closer to 150 lbs” brought unwanted attention from women and men alike.
“Women I barely knew gushed. And I mean GUSHED. Like I was holding-a-new-baby-gushed,” Rhimes wrote. “Only there was no new baby. It was just me. In a dress. With makeup on and my hair all did, yes. But…still the same me. In one of my same dresses (cause why am I gonna buy a NEW dress when I can take this to a seamstress and she can just make it smaller? Who am I, The Crown? No, I’m from the Midwest, baby, and I come with coupons). Women gushed anyway. And men? They spoke to me. THEY SPOKE TO ME. Like stood still and had long conversations with me about things. It was disconcerting. But even more disconcerting was that all these people suddenly felt completely comfortable talking to me about my body. Telling me I looked ‘pretty’ or that they were ‘proud of me’ or that ‘wow, you are so hot now’ or ‘you look amazing!’ ”
Rhimes expresses confusion over how “after I lost weight, I discovered that people found me valuable. Worthy of conversation. A person one could look at. A person one could compliment. A person one could admire.”
“You heard me. I discovered that NOW people saw me as a PERSON,” she wrote. “What the hell did they see me as before? How invisible was I to them then? How hard did they work to avoid me? What words did they use to describe me? What value did they put on my presence at a party, a lunch, a discussion? When I was fat, I wasn’t a PERSON to these people. Like I had been an Invisible Woman who suddenly materialized in front of them. Poof! There I am. Thin and ready for a chat.”
Rhimes goes on to say “being thinner doesn’t make you a different person. It just makes you thinner.”
This reminds me of an episode of This American Life I heard recently called Tell Me I’m Fat. There was a segment in which a woman who lost 110 pounds was upset with her new husband because she didn’t think he would have dated her when she was heavy. She described how she previously dated another man whom she had known before, but who didn’t recognize her when she got thin and never realized he already knew her.
Shonda’s story is somewhat different and I could relate to what she was saying about being surprised that people treat you so differently. I lost almost 60 pounds a couple of years ago (it took me a year and a half) and have noticed this to a lesser degree. There are a lot of perks to being thin and I don’t want to complain about it, however I prefer the way I was treated by men especially when I was larger. (My transformation wasn’t as dramatic, and she’s a woman of color so I really can’t speak to her experience.) Before, men were courteous enough but I went unnoticed most of the time. Men can be creepy bastards now and it’s eye-opening. Also, it’s annoying whenever I see certain acquaintances and they say things which amount to “wow you’re still thin” after a couple of years. I didn’t mind it as much when they were super nice and surprised at first, that’s to be expected, but STFU about it at this point. It’s like they’re waiting for me to gain it back. I guess I get it after writing all this out. It can be grating hearing those things as someone who lost a significant amount of weight. Shonda lost almost three times what I did, I can only imagine what that’s like when people act so differently around you.
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