Around here, we’re big fans of actress Chrissy Metz and her portrayal of the “unconventional, emotional” character she plays on NBC’s “This is Us.” The way Chrissy talked about finding peace after a lifetime of dieting in People magazine last year; how eloquently the show portrays issues women who live in large bodies have to contend with; or when her character, Kate, went to a weight retreat that reminded us so much of our own program. (They even did Green-Mountain-style drumming!)
Somehow, after reading Chrissy’s new book, “This is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today,” we love her even more. This honest and inspiring memoir is an important read for any woman who’s struggled with her body, or other people’s reaction to it.
Chrissy is a great storyteller, and her book pulls you in to the pain and joy of her life like you are having a heart-to-heart with a best friend. Life was not easy for Chrissy—at the hand of her stepfather she experienced physical and emotional abuse aimed at her “offensive body.” She grew up poor, with food insecurity and instances of bullying. “It’s hard not just to feel that pain again, but to realize that it is all still there, so close to my surface,” she writes. “I believe that pain is in every pound that is still on my body. I stuffed my feelings for so long, they must come up and come out for there to be a real healing.”
As an eating disorder specialist and executive director of the healthy-weight and well-being programs here at Green Mountain at Fox Run, it’s easy to understand why Chrissy turned to food as a child. She writes that she now believes that everything that happened to her happened for her as well, making her who she is today.
From the first time that Chrissy read the script for her “This is Us,” she knew she needed to play the part of Kate. Kate was her, she writes. When the show debuted two years ago, I was immediately drawn in by Kate, too, both personally and professionally. It also felt like my story—and the story of so many other women I’ve worked with over the years. In the second episode, Kate says, “It’s always going to be about the weight for me, that’s been my story ever since I was a little girl. And every moment that I’m not thinking about it, I’m thinking about it. Like, will this chair hold me? Will this dress fit me? And if I ever get pregnant, will anyone even notice?”
Although initially Kate’s storyline was panned by some feminist and body-positive writers for appearing to be a stereotypical “trying to lose weight” arc, Kate turned out to be so much more than that. In her new book, Chrissy writes her character a sweet P.S.: “I want to thank Dan Fogelman for creating you, a flawed but courageous woman. …I am so proud that [our writers] refuse to write your life into something that makes you a doormat. Because we know that the stigma attached to people of size: they are considered to be either obnoxious or doormats, never having a voice in what they think or feel or say because it isn’t important.”
I realized after reading her book that Chrissy herself is much more evolved than the character she plays. That became even more clear when I got to meet her in person after a book-tour event in Boston a few weeks ago. Up on stage at the Wilbur Theater that night Chrissy was comfortable in her skin, as real as the Velveteen Rabbit, and funny. She was spiritual, magnetic, and inspiring. And so is her book.