Weighing in on the Jones/Walters Controversy

So, Barbara Walters, one of the greatest female journalists ever, has written her life story, Auditions, and is doing a massive media blitz for its release.

I haven’t read it, but as far as bios go, it’s one I’d be interested in. She talks about everything, from her affair with a black senator in the ’70s, to why Star Jones was ostensibly booted from The View.

Walters maintains that it was ludicrous for Jones to never fess up to having gastic bypass surgery on the air. Apparently Jones never wanted to admit to the bypass, and it caused tensions on the show as a result of the other hosts feeling they had to fudge the truth to help Jones skirt the issue when confronted by press and such, as Jones always alleged her weight loss was due to Pilates and portion control.

Here’s a bit from CNN that covers Walters’ side of the story here:

Walters says Jones, who’d dropped 160 pounds in three years, changed her mind after telling Walters she’d talk about the procedure on the program. Walters says she didn’t want to be the “poster child” for the procedure.

“I understood that, but it put us all in a terrible position,” Walters writes. “It meant we virtually had to lie for Star, especially when she said again and again on the air that her weight loss was due primarily to portion control and Pilates. … Joy (Behar), in particular, resented having to go along with the lie that implied that all one needed to do was sit-ups and ingest one cookie instead of two.”

Jones is flaming Walters for any number of reasons now that the book is out, saying “It is a sad day when an icon like Barbara Walters, in the sunset of her life, is reduced to publicly branding herself as an adulterer, humiliating an innocent family with accounts of her illicit affair and speaking negatively against me all for the sake of selling a book. It speaks to her true character.”

It’s not a sad day when an icon like Walters writes about her life before she hits the end of it. She branded herself as a lover in a dangerous time, with an interracial affair at the peak of the civil rights’ movement while she was an upcoming star of the journalism industry, not just an “adulterer”.

What is sad is someone feeling they have to lie about gastric bypass surgery, or that they have to fool the public because they’re ashamed of themselves. Last year she finally wrote about the procedure and said she was “ashamed at not being able to get (herself) under control without this procedure.” On some levels, that’s understandable. Imagine how useful that feeling might be to someone facing the option of bypass or death from obesity, knowing the shame was a normal feeling?

What’s sad is that she had the opportunity to share her struggle with millions of viewers who may well have supported her, or even changed their lives, and she failed to sieze that chance.

Speaking as someone who’s been losing weight, it is BY FAR the hardest struggle of my life. I have had to change myself from my thinking on down, and it is a daily struggle and war. I’ve had to learn so much about myself, and still am, so much so that there are times it breaks me down to tears. It is a fucking HARD struggle.

I believe, truly, that my life is on the line– perhaps not in a “CODE BLUE! STAT!” kind of way, but I was at that point where the slope was getting very slippery and it seemed like the only way to go was down, down, down. The fight mainly came from “If I don’t, if I continue this unhealthy life, it will kill me, and not in a nice way.”

I think it’s incredible when people can drop 160 pounds or so, naturally, but if it takes gastric bypass surgery, then so be it. Maybe she knew she could have truly lost the weight herself with more control. Who knows, but it’s bullshit to ask that question now, or even worry about it. She made her choice, she’s succeeded with it, and that’s what’s important.

The point is, when you live a public life and you try to pretend you’ve lost your weight by just controlling your portions and doing Pilates three times a week, that’s just not fair to the people who are maybe trying to follow your example, but are depressed and angry when your sensational results don’t follow. It’s not fair. Losing 160 pounds will NEVER happen that way. EVER.

A friend on Facebook yesterday emailed me to say “Wow, 30 pounds, huh? How’d you do it?” By working really fucking hard and being conscious of my choices every single day, whether for the good or bad, I more or less said. It’s not about switching cereal brands or drinking less juice. It’s about CHANGING EVERYTHING.

Weight is by far one of the most damaging issues one can face in their own lives. It affects everything– mood, self-esteem, finances, emotional strength, communication, and more. When I’m not fat anymore, who will I be? I don’t know, but finding out will be incredible.

I think Star Jones had a responsibility to own up to the truth about her weight loss, and that she was a coward when she let her shame talk her out of using her opportunity to allow others to know of her own difficult journey. She made the wrong choice, and it affected her life in every way. Had she stuck it out on the View, been honest with her public, who knows how it could have strengthened her relationship with her fans?

Weight loss is too fucking hard for people not to be more honest about how they get there– whether it’s by completely changing their lives and working out all the time, like I’m trying to, or by gastric surgery– because people do stupid, unhealthy things to try and change their weight, and we need the successful people to share their routes, even if it’s with bypass surgery.

Besides, people can die from gastric bypass, and it’s a dangerous surgery that does not solve obesity on its own. Jones had to work, had to control her eating for it to be a success, so it’s not all the surgery’s doing, and she has a right to be proud of what she accomplished, regardless of the method. But because gastric bypass isn’t just an elaborate Band-aid, she should have taken the opportunity to enlighten people on how it impacts one’s life.

She was a host of a current affairs/talk show run by a journalist. How could she possibly think skirting the truth was going to fly? It’s ridiculous.

Be honest about your struggles, people. We all have them. We need to support each other, we need to understand each other’s struggles. It’s the only way we’ll ever really unite.

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