As someone who has dealt with weight issues her entire life, I found myself enraged by all the headlines lately about singer Kelly Clarkson. This gifted young woman from Texas should be lauded for her amazing voice and positive outlook, but instead she’s been the subject of ridicule about her weight.
She took the first American Idol crown 13 years ago and even then, although she was by far the most talented, she recently told Ellen DeGeneres her looks were an issue. “I was the biggest girl in the show,” she said. “And I wasn’t big, but people would call me big. Because I was the biggest one on ‘Idol,’ I’ve kind of always gotten that.”
I can relate.
I’ll never forget having to shop in the “husky” girls section at Sears because I couldn’t wear all the cute stuff smaller girls did. Or the group weigh-ins during in high school. The teacher would call your weight out loud in front of everyone. As if that wasn’t humiliating enough, she would say, “You need to eat healthier, Nance.” Maybe she thought it was tough love, but for a teenage girl, it was an excuse to avoid mirrors and forever feel like the “big girl.”
A few years ago, Clarkson married Reba McEntire’s step-son, Brandon Blackstock, and last year gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, River Rose. Guess what? She gained baby weight. Duh. Guess what else? She’s fine with how she looks now.
So why do some folks feel the need to make it a big deal? How does your weight affect your talent, ability and integrity? A listener sent me an email several years ago fat shaming me, saying I have a “certain image to uphold” and how could I “feel good looking like you do?” Obviously, the older you get, the more you realize those people have bigger issues than you do. I’m not nearly at the same level of celebrity as Clarkson, but when I saw these stories, all those old demons came back.
In February, British TV personality Katie Hopkins (who?) tweeted, “Jesus, what happened to Kelly Clarkson? Did she eat all of her backing singers? Happily I have wide-screen.” She added, “Darling, if you had a baby a year ago, that is not baby weight. It is fat. Quit calling it cute names to make yourself feel better.” Ouch. Clarkson let it slide, telling Heat magazine, “That’s because she doesn’t know me. I’m awesome! It doesn’t bother me. It’s a free world. Say what you will.”
It wasn’t long after that Fox News anchor Chris Wallace commented, “she could lay off the deep dish pizza for a while.” After a massive backlash, he quickly backtracked via US Magazine. “I sincerely apologize to Kelly Clarkson for my offensive comment. I admire her remarkable talent and that should have been the focus of any discussion about her.”
True to the class act that she is, while on Ellen, she didn’t address the Wallace remarks.
“It’s like, you’re just who you are,” Clarkson said. “We are who we are. Whatever size, and it doesn’t mean that we’re gonna be that forever… So sometimes I’m more fit and I get into kickboxing hardcore. And then sometimes I don’t, and I’m like … I’d rather have wine.”
Just like everybody else.