07/08/2013 11:13 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Because Fat Isn't the New Phat


I was the fat one.

Of the three children in my family, I was the chubbiest. Of my best girl friends in high school, I was the heaviest. Of all my college roommates, I was the one that could never borrow a dress for a formal. And of all the women in the DMV when I got my first California license, I was the one that lied (the most) about my weight.

karrileigh mastrangelo

On the outside, my 'outside' wasn't a huge detriment. I was smart, popular, and loved. But on the inside, I was always striving for perfection in other aspects of my life so my waist size wouldn't be the focus. And I succeeded. Even my keg stand abilities were above par (which may have contributed to the problem).

Now a television producer in Los Angeles, I live and work in an environment overflowing with some of the country's most (physically) beautiful people. Which makes me wonder... Are issues with body image something that I surround myself with, that follow me, or that are just impossible to avoid?

Over a decade ago, I worked on Extreme Makeover (the surgery edition). Day in and out, I was surrounded by people who thought a nose job or tummy tuck could save the world. Later, I worked on the pilot for The Biggest Loser. And the icing on the (Weight Watchers) cake was a several year stint on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

One might think this would cause a chubby to pop diet pills like they were French fries. But exactly the reverse occurred.

I have seen more Crystal Light consumed than could fill Lake Superior. I've seen drastic (and often dangerous) measures taken to lose weight and look good. If I had a dollar for every time a woman told me she hadn't used the bathroom in days, I could buy Louboutin boots. My response was always the same. Just like the expression "you can't win if you don't play," I'd remind them that you can't go if you don't eat.

Meanwhile, I have a closet full of amazing shoes, but am always in flip flops. I have designer clothing still adorned with ridiculous price tags, but am always in sweats. And when I am a "weekend warrior," it isn't at the gym -- it's at Chuck E. Cheese. I've learned that (for me) beauty isn't always comfort, but comfort is always beautiful.

I have insanely curly hair that I have fought years to tame -- and finally won. My secret to success? Do nothing. I've learned that if I simply towel dry my hair (without brushing it) and add a tiny bit of leave-in conditioner, I have curls even Andie Macdowell would kill for. (God, I miss the Brat Pack...)

Bringin' it home, my lesson is this... try to forget about it. Just try.

When I stop obsessing about my weight, I find myself in a much happier place. Gone are the extremes I had once taken, and in comes a more balanced, healthier, happier attitude. Granted it took a few decades, and there are still times that I stray, but it was well worth the "weight."

So the question remains. Are issues with body image something that I surround myself with, that follow me, or that are just impossible to avoid? For me, the answer is a combination of all three. The solution is a bit more challenging. Find a way to be comfortable in yourself, and the beauty will come from there.

Funny thing is... the information on my driver's license is no longer a lie -- and I never changed it.

This post originally appeared on Karri-Leigh's blog, Dirty Laundry & Dirty Diapers.