“In my 20s I used to cry about why I wasn’t thinner or prettier,” she said. “I was an idiot. … It’s a decade of tears.”
But now she knows better than to try to change for someone else’s “beauty” ideals, though sometimes words can still hurt. “I’ve always thought, ‘If you want somebody different, pick somebody else.’ But, sure, criticism can sometimes still get to me. Some things are so malicious they knock the wind out of you.”
She gave the example of being called “America’s plus-size sweetheart.” It was probably meant as a compliment, but the way it was worded bugged her. “It’s like I’m managing to achieve all this success in spite of my affliction,” Melissa said. “Would you ever put that in the headline for a male star?” Sometimes male celebs (think: Rob Kardashian) do get shamed for their weight, but she’s right that it’s usually women they go after.
People also linked to an older example of Melissa being bullied for her weight: One time a reviewer at the New York Observer called her a “female hippo.” Melissa responded that the words might have really hurt her when she was 20, but now hurtful comments like these just hurt “all those younger girls, that are not in a place in their life where they can say, ‘That doesn’t reflect on me.'”
She also is very serious (yup, she can get serious) about making certain her young daughters grow up with good self-esteem. And this is why we love her.
Check out HalfofUs.org for ways to confront self-esteem and body image issues.