According to Shonda Rhimes, the only thing worse than shedding a lot of weight is getting the wrong kind of attention for it afterward. In a newsletter sent to Shondaland subscribers last week, Rhimes, 47, reveals that it wasn’t until she lost nearly 150 pounds that people seemed to find her “valuable.”
Though the Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator dropped the weight about two years ago, she’s still stunned and disturbed by the way people, even strangers, reacted to her transformation.
“I did not do it because I thought I would become beautiful like in the movies,” Rhimes explains. “I did it because I could not walk up a short flight up stairs without stopping to take a break and wiping sweat from my brow. I did it because my body was physically rebelling against the brain that had been ignoring it for so long.”
And don’t get her wrong, Rhimes still isn’t taken with #cleanliving. In fact, she loathed what it took to lose so many pounds.
“Losing weight is not a topic I like discussing,” she writes. “Why? Because there is nothing fun or interesting or great about it. I hated losing weight. I hated every single second of it. And I hate every single second of maintaining my weight, too.”
What Rhimes hated even more was how slimming down changed the way people reacted to her. “But you know what was worse than losing weight? What was SO MUCH MORE HORRIFYING? How people treated me after I lost weight,” she explains.
“I mean, things got weird,” writes Rhimes. Especially when women she hardly knew gushed over her new look. “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 began to take notice of Rhimes too, she recalls. “THEY SPOKE TO ME. Like stood still and had long conversations with me about things. It was disconcerting.”
The newfound attention wasn’t the only thing that made this high-powered TV producer uncomfortable. She was also appalled by how breezily people commented on her appearance, calling her “hot” or telling her they were were “proud of her.”
“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,” she continues.
To Rhimes, it felt like others only considered her worthy of conversation once she looked a certain way. After that realization, she began to wonder. “What the hell did they see me as before? How invisible was I to them? How hard did they work to avoid me?” she writes.
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Of course Rhimes also infuses her newsletter with humor. While lamenting how hard it was to drop the 150 pounds, she says she misses eating “all the fried chicken,” and not just when it was on her plate. “No. I miss eating ALL THE FRIED CHICKEN,” she writes. “All of it. Every piece, everywhere.”
Jokes aside, Rhimes makes a powerful point in a world where unrealistic body ideals are everywhere and a person’s size is often linked to their value. “Being thinner doesn’t make you a different person,” she says. “It just makes you thinner.”