Opinion: Valerie Bertinelli’s truth – CNN

In a moving video published Thursday to her Instagram account, Bertinelli explains a remark she got from an Instagram fan who, she stated, “decided to point out that I need to lose weight.” The starlet continues, with reasonable sarcasm: “See, I don’t have a scale, or I don’t have clothes that I’m trying to put on every day and I don’t have mirrors so I don’t see what’s become of me.” Her eyes start to water. “So I needed that help to let me know that I need to lose weight.” She stops briefly, and now she is weeping. She lets that take in. And after that, she deals with the commenter straight. “You’re not being helpful.”

She includes: “If I could lose the weight and keep it off I would, but since I haven’t been successful with that my whole entire life, at 61, I’m still dealing with it.” And After That: “Where’s the compassion?”

In a message published with the video, Bertinelli asks: “aren’t we tired of body shaming women yet?!”

Females understand the response. And, naturally, lots of are especially conscious this issue as they emerge from 18 months in numerous levels of lockdown. Besides the physical (often life-altering and terrible), psychological and financial impacts of the pandemic, there is a more ordinary, however stuffed, result for lots of. An American Psychological Association survey found that 41% of Americans say they gained weight during the pandemic, with the “Quarantine 19” (as in 19 pounds) a sort of lockdown version of the “Freshman 15.”

In her video, Bertinelli addresses her internet troll: “When you see somebody who has put some weight on, my first thought it that person is obviously going through some things.” That’s one woman’s opinion, obviously. The person who has put on weight may have any number of perfectly positive reasons for it: happiness, an unabashed delight in the pleasures of delicious food, a decision to eschew punishing diets and instead embrace their natural and beautiful body.

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One wishes it were needless to say today: Women come in all sizes and shapes and our society (and especially pop culture) has done tremendous harm over the years — saddling women with body image issues and eating disorders — as it has glorified thinness as the preferred state. Her health is what is important, and this is an issue that is between her and her doctor or nutritionist. Period.

Bertinelli’s video reflects, perhaps, some of the complexity of all this. Of course, she owes no one any explanation. Whether she has gained or lost weight is simply no one’s business however her own. Indeed, unsolicited, personal comments like the one leveled at her by a stranger are, plainly, online bullying in the form of body shaming. Women in particular are often subjected to unsolicited criticism online (and in real life) for being fat, thin, tall, short, small-breasted, busty, too “plain,” too sexy and so on, with a scrutiny rarely leveled at men. Celebrity women, like Bertinelli, often have to deal with that kind of invasive treatment on a very public scale.

The old-fashioned conventional wisdom has long been to ignore bullies — that the attention and fight is what they want — or to never let them see they’ve bothered you. And for years, this is what lots of celebrity women have done — for appearances’ sake, for their careers, to stay above the fray and maintain their larger-than-life personas.

Even when celebrity women choose not to ignore the shaming, they are increasingly likely to go on the offensive. Years ago, in fact, after designer Karl Lagerfeld called British singer Adele “a little too fat,” she told People magazine that she embraced her curves. “I’ve never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines,” she said. “I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that.” In May of last year, Adele debuted a new appearance, revealing a significant weight loss. Was she celebrated? By some, yes; others on social media said some variation of: I want the old Adele…chubbier, prettier. (Further evidence for women of the pointlessness of paying attention to any of it.)
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Other celebrity women, such as Alicia Silverstone, Tyra Banks and Margaret Cho have similarly taken flak for their weight fluctuations.

What makes Bertinelli’s response different is her refusal to ignore it or play it off with some welcome body positivity or a “just buzz off” mentality.

What makes it powerful is her willingness to admit her truth and be vulnerable in public: that she has struggled with her weight and that knowing that others have noticed hurts. There are countless people, women and men, who know what that feels like. She makes it clear this pain is hers alone — she’s unhappy with her body, but she does not imply that others who may look like her also need to lose weight. She addresses the fact that society is set up to shame and scorn women who are not thin, while also recognizing that, very often, women are their own harshest critics. They don’t need additional commentary to notice their flaws and to beat themselves up for them.

Bertinelli’s video asks: Why not show people who hurt others what that hurt looks like? In doing so — in openly crying, her face up in the camera without makeup — she issues what may be an even more empowering message to others going through the same thing, whether they are being bullied because of weight or something else.

Here is Valerie Bertinelli, a female who has actually had a long and successful career and she does care what you think. Because, guess what? She’s human. Just like the rest of us. And she hurts, just like we all do.

Bertinelli should be celebrated and looked to as a new role model for dealing with bullies. But let’s be clear: She’s not employing a strategy, she’s being real. Bullies will always exist. They will always seek to hurt. The thing is, we don’t need to pretend we’re okay with it or appear impervious to the pain of it in order to battle back. Not any longer.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.