Shonda Rhimes, is perhaps the most powerful woman in television right now, and yet she says that when she was 150 lbs heavier, she felt nearly invisible to people.
The creator of Shondaland recently got real in her newsletter about how she was treated after she lost the weight. She wrote,
“Women I barely knew gushed. And I mean GUSHED. Like I was holding-a-new-baby-gushed. 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,” she wrote. “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!’
I discovered that NOW people saw me as a PERSON. 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.”
Nothing that Shonda wrote was shocking, but it’s still incredibly disturbing. You should always be treated with respect and dignity, no matter your size and shape. And yet many famous women have echoed the same sentiments as Shonda. Gabourey Sidibe documented a similar experience after she went through gastro bypass surgery for health reasons and Lindy West has written about how folks on the street will often hit on her “classically handsome” husband despite her standing right next to him. She even says that “fat jokes” are still the only kind of discrimination that is still openly allowed in the media — and we totally agree.
We’re happy for Shonda on her weight loss if it helped her get happier and/or healthier. But we will always love Shonda Rhimes no matter what she weighs in at. She’s a genius and a national treasure and we couldn’t imagine what our Thursday nights would look like without her.
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel (by far!), but when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her hanging with her kitty Tom or tweeting at Sen. Chuck Schumer.