Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, and Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes is an awe-inspiring, wildly influential woman, one that anyone should be honored to speak to (or even to breathe the same air as) in any capacity.
Unfortunately, this was not the case before her significant weight loss, Rhimes reveals.
The 47-year-old powerhouse spoke about losing over 100 pounds over the past few years in her latest Shondaland newsletter, and how the over-the-top reaction to her weight loss disappointed her.
“Women I barely knew gushed,” she wrote according to Entertainment Weekly, “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.”
“Men?” she continued, “They spoke to me. THEY SPOKE TO ME. Like stood still and had long conversations with me about things. It was disconcerting.”
This newfound attention did not delight her in the slightest; on the contrary, it made her realize that dropping weight somehow gave her merit as a human being, merit she did not have before.
“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. 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?”
She’s right; we live in a society that rewards women for maintaining thin figures and having a specific body type, while overweight women are largely shunned and isolated. One recent viral tweet showed that a thin woman eating a hamburger generates positive comments while a fat woman at the beach is immediately dismissed as “unhealthy.”
Praising women incessantly for losing weight implies that they were somehow inadequate before and that weight loss is what all women are striving toward. It’s a phenomenon that Lena Dunham slammed recently when people wouldn’t stop speculating on her weight loss (which was due to struggling with endometriosis.)
“When I was fat, I wasn’t a PERSON to these people,” Rhimes concludes, “Like I had been an Invisible Woman who suddenly materialized in front of them. Poof! There I am. Thin and ready for a chat.”
But, as she recognizes: “Being thinner doesn’t make you a different person. It just makes you thinner.”