The first time I ever saw Chrissy Metz, who plays Kate in the phenomenally popular TV Series This Is Us, was when she was about to weigh herself. Each time before she got on the scale, there was one more article of clothing or piece of jewelry that she had to take off in the hope of lowering, even if just by a gram, that final number.
I trust this doesn’t count as a spoiler moment when I say that the number Kate saw when she finally did step on the scale was personally devastating, in ways I imagine many of us, including myself, know far too well.
But like many, if not every single one of us, neither Chrissy Metz or the character she plays let a number on a machine be the deciding storyline. Kate goes on (now I’ll really try to avoid spoilers here), to get married, lead an active social life, and have multiple life-changing moments that are so much important and defining than the size of her jeans. And while these are wonderful experiences for TV-Kate, her character is even more impactful once you know that the woman playing her is acting from her own feelings and experiences.
For me, Metz continues the (thankfully) emerging trends of actresses and other celebrities who are either pushing back against stereotypical Hollywood body narratives (thank you Jameela Jamil), or who are using their own challenges with weight and body image to add complexity to what for too long has been a short and shallow story. In a 2018 interview with Good Housekeeping magazine, Metz explained how “There are so many times in my life that I didn’t express how I felt . . . now I try to remember that you are entitled to do what you want.”
“You are entitled to do what you want,” now that is a sentence I think we should all type out and tape on our bathroom mirror. Because how many times have we stopped ourselves from taking part in an event or relationship because we’re worried about how we appear? Or even more painfully, how many times have we continued fueling thoughts and feelings that are nothing short of cruel to ourselves, but somehow we felt like we deserved them when we didn’t lose the five pounds we promised ourselves we would? It’s an excruciating place to be in, and it isn’t helped by what often seems like the constant bombardment of rail-thin models and airbrushed actresses.
Metz talks about self-esteem and body image in her 2018 book This is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today. She writes how “I thought success and joy weren’t coming to me. They were inside me all along. Every little act I did of showing up for myself brought me to this moment.” This is what I like so much about Metz and what she emits as a writer, actress, and role model. What she tells us is that it isn’t about waiting for that perfect day where we wake up and look exactly the way we want and our life has suddenly come exactly in line. It’s about knowing that we are, hands down, absolutely fabulous even if we don’t really feel like it. We can know joy and success with or without that slice of chocolate cake or size 6, 8, or 12 dress; all of that pales in comparison to how we can feel about ourselves when we, as Metz says, finally start showing up for ourselves.
Now that Spring is (finally? hopefully?) here, Metz’s words are something that I especially want to carry with me as we enter into one of the most exciting seasons of the year. To me, Spring is a time where we can learn new things about ourselves that we hadn’t necessarily expected and find joy in areas we never anticipated. And with the increasing trend of prominent actresses who are truly living their best lives in all the best ways, I have a feeling this season will be more about how incredible each of us is and not about that meaningless number on the scale.
Written and contributed by Meghan McCoy!