Editor's Note: Nia Vardalos is the star and writer of the 2002 smash hit, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Her new film, “My Life in Ruins,” is in theaters now.
It’s just weight. Just 40 pounds of fat now gone from my body, but wow, it’s pretty much all I get asked about. In the last year, I got to star in a movie, wrote and directed my next one, and adopted a three year old from American Foster Care. But guess what I’m asked...how did I lose the weight?
I am embarrassed to be in the position of answering questions about my body again. On the publicity tour of 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' I was asked over and over again, if, as the writer, I felt it was a fair depiction of real life to have someone of my er, below average looks, hook up with hottie John Corbett.
It’s been years, and I have sat through many a movie like Sideways, where nobody blinks an eye when Paul Giamatti gets together with gorgeous Virginia Madsen. And, then 'Knocked Up'….well, the visual of Seth Rogan on top of Katherine Heigl made me put the popcorn down and reach for my purse. Not because I was grossed out but because I knew the film was about to stop and Ashton Kutcher would now jump out and go “aha, you’ve been punked, that would never happen.” I waited. But no Ashton. The film went on. And many a reviewer, who probably look like sweet Seth (yes even the women) gave it a thumbs up.
Yes, there’s a double standard for women. Whatever. Yawn, we all know it, perpetuate it – we make it worse every time we buy a magazine showing “Stars with Cellulite.” And women, we do buy those magazines. Yes, we do. No, not just at the airport – you have a subscription, admit it. So do I.
So, it’s our fault. Let’s accept it and move on. Socially, the issue of men’s weight is simply not a big deal. Let’s face it: Russell Crowe is fat and no one ever talks about it. Alec Baldwin just orders his suits a size bigger and we continue to swoon.
So, what exactly is up with my weight loss? I get hit with this awkward question daily and have answered it in press interviews, at the grocery store, at the newspaper stand. Why? Because I see their anxious, open faces needing the secret, the new pill, the cure, anything. Just please share the secret. So I hesitantly answer and am always met with the same response: the glaze-eye slack-jawed face.
Because they don’t want to hear the truth: I had a blood sugar problem so my Doctor ordered me to lose weight, it was really hard but I did it through diet, exercise and it took a year.
This is when the boredom sets in on the querying person. I might as well just shove an Ambien up their nostril. The gleam in their eye fades and they get sleepy.
No one wants to hear the facts about weight loss. It’s simple. Take that bag of Doritos and throw it as far as you can. Now chase after it. Pick it up, do it again.
Or don’t. You don’t have to lose weight, unless like me, it becomes an issue of health. I thought I was attractive when I shot 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding.' Studio executives and movie reviewers let me know I had a confidence in my looks that was not shared by them. In other words: they labeled me with words like, overweight, unattractive, unappealing. Hey, just say fat. I love the word fat. I used it in the title. It’s actually not a naughty word. We give it a power it actually doesn’t have. So, you’re fat. Big deal.
If now, I have a sudden validity because I look different on the red carpet, check out my Before pics on my Twitter. (@NiaVardalos) I am showing what happens before Team Miracle comes over in the Hazmat suits and works on me for a few hours. Anyone can look like they make me look. That’s why most malls offer a Glamour Shots booth.
I am just telling you the truth.
Here’s another fact: A studio executive recently asked me to change a male lead in a script to female because “women don’t go to movies.” He went on to explain some studios were no longer making female-lead movies because women don’t go to them.
Wow. I pointed out 'Sex And The City,' 'Mamma Mia,' and 'Obsessed,' and he called them “flukes.”
He shrugged and explained he was just telling me the truth.
I wonder, is this the truth? Do we support female films? My film is out now and Sandra Bullock’s film 'The Proposal' opens soon. (Gasp, is she talking about a rival studio’s movie?) Yeah, I am. See it. See us both (just see us first, we’re low budget.)
So, I ask, can we tell that studio executive the truth? That women do go to the movies. Can we speak up with our wallets? Or did you doze off?
I go to movies every week by myself...it's my form of relaxation and time to just lose myself. I just saw YOUR movie yesterday and it was great! Thanks for all the positive and much needed remarks!
If the man thinks that women don't go to movies, maybe women just don't go to HIS movies. How many times does he expect us to sit through Kate Hudson wrangling Matthew McConaughey into marrying her?
Also, I very nearly spit a piece of cantaloupe across the room at the Doritos thing. Oh, who am I kidding, it was a piece of chocolate.
Nia, You are my hero!!! Thank you for saying what so many of us feel (in fact, I was going to ask if you have a voice-recorder in my head because I have had these EXACT same thoughts! )
And I LOVE that you call out the male celebrities that never get negative attention for their weight!!! It's been a pet-peeve of mine FOREVER. I noticed that even as a child – the television shows I watched reinforced that the women/wives were to be svelte and perfect and the men/husbands could be as fat, bald and dumb as they wanted to be and that skinny wife of his was the luckiest woman in the world for having him. Puh-leeze!
Congratulations on your adoption – another reason to admire you!!! (not that I needed one)
PS – can't wait to see your new movie! beyond happy that you're on the big screen again!
I think Ms. Vardalos is beautiful... downright sexy. I thought this when Big Fat Wedding came out. Obviously there is more to her than her looks... but seriously. Somebody should write Ms. Vardalos a poem.
I think you are truly walking in beauty-then (MBFGW), and now! Thanks for a wonderful article, for your intelligence, your talent, your wit, and your goddess spirit!!!!! Keep up the good work, Sister Queen!
First – – WOMEN DON'T SUPPORT MOVIES ???? What planet is that man from.
Second, your article thrills me to the tips of my over weight fingers.
Fat-thin, fat-thin. I wonder the same things every day that you point out . Health issues are primary, of course. But that aside, the beanstalks of today can't hold a candle to the stars of the old Hollywood who had hips, and curvaceous legs, etc. You were gorgeous in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and your size was/is a non-issue.
Third – – ohsoright about the double standard. My dream: a short, fat, bald woman as morning anchor on the Today Show.
And just for the record - I'm a little overweight, what is called "zaphtig", but I have no personal ax to grind about the thin-niks.
But nobody in this world needs to be a size 2 or zero. Nobody.
Well, the important thing is that you're not bitter.................
Great article and very well written – I read all the way to the end which I often do not do.
I must admit to watching my own weight – but try to eat healthy without sacrificing some treats like Vodka, real butter and chocolate – I am a private chef so it is quite a challenge! My last client lost over 40lbs whilst in my care and he loved every bite! (chefvenetia on Twitter)
As far as the movies – I absolutely love them, I often go solo and buy the ones I want to see again on the 4 for $20.00 at Blockbuster. I just saw "The Women" and plan to see "My Life in Ruins" because I loved "My big Fat Greek Wedding!" I do love films starring mostly women, but I also love the guys like Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Matthew McConaughey, Daniel Craig ( too many to list) . I just saw "Angels and Demons" – amazingly I was totally alone in a huge theatre!!
Keep up the good work – beauty comes from within!! Poli Orea!
Nia-LOVED this article. You said a mouthful about the weight double standards in Hollywood. I just wanted to say that I thought you were beautiful before and that you are beautiful now. Either way.
I have to say I agree with what you say Nia but unfortunately if you live in the gay world you have to put up with the image crap too. We are stereotyped to have perfect toned muscular bodies with a nice tan and good clothes. If we don't have that we aren't representative and don't get noticed. It's crap. I don't see the issue with it. If you have a few extra pounds but are healthy it really shouldn't be an issue and if people are that shallow about it then someone should remind them that age ends up kicking the crap out of most people's looks unless you have the money to get a lot of plastic surgery which doesn't look good on everyone. So in the end you just enjoy what you have make the most of it and be yourself and that, they can't take away from you.
Women go to movies when their is content that women want. Frankly, more male nude hot bodies like in Sex in the City make it a special appointment go-see for me.
The movies women won't go see – where we are a victim, need a man to save us, have us a bimbos and characterizations of the "joke", we cat fight other women, need psychotherapy, are desperate to be married, raped, murdered, egged on by revenge, needing to kill or be killed... yes, all these situations that male studio executives think we women are about.
Maybe if the male studio execs stopped their movie surveys of two – they and their trophy wives – they might be very surprised.
I think people are just very intrigued about how you we're able to lose the weight you lost. Maybe for their own purpose and maybe because they might be having trouble losing weight themselves, so their looking at you as being a roll model and even a mentor. Speaking from personal experience, when people see someone they've seen before, has lost a good amount of weight, then they might be just trying to find out the secret.
Don't take it personally Nia, maybe you could be the next fitness queen.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding rocked, and it's a great parrellel between my own insane, but lovable family..
Nia is just too cool for school
This is the attitude every woman and girl should have!!! Look at the biggest beauty/sex symbol of all time: Monroe, she wasnt 0 size, she had those hips and curves like a real lady!!!
Embrace those curves!!
Besides, what works for one lady, is a disaster for another.. Not everyone needs to be a negative jean size, you just need to feel good and be healthy
nia is a gorgeous lady, who actually feels good in her own skin... now thats sexy... the knives and needles and other suctions tubes that others use to "perfect" themselves is a bit creepy...
You should have watched the rest of "Knocked Up". The whole idea of the movie is that this schlubby, unattractive guy hooked up with this totally "hot" chick thanks to alcohol, and because of the circumstances of the pregnancy, they tried to make it work- even though she was way out of his league in the looks (and class) department. The fact that he was an ugly guy with a good looking girl was not only acknowledged, it was actually a major part of the story.
Well said Nia! What refreshing honesty. We need to hear more from people like you.
Despite being only 3 years younger, I look much younger than my guy. I doubt anyone pays much attention to what he is doing with someone so much younger than him. You know if I was with some hot young guy who looked a decade or more younger, people would be chattering away.
I think your tell it like it is attitude comes from your upbringing in Winnipeg (my hometown, also). Here people are still real...Well up to the generation starting around !990???
I believe you hit the nail Right on the head with your comments on societies attitudes about weight , looks, etc. and they wonder why this generation ie that of the Lindsay's , Britney's and Paris' are so nascissitic , shallow and misguded. I believe that the real important things in life like family and values...are being watered done by our obsession as a societyu with the truly trivial, wasted lives of the above mentioned "role models". People seem to be filling their empty live s trying to emulate these fantasy "role models" . Parents are left to deal with the results. Boy I hope THEIR parents are PROUD!!!!!!
I am not sure i understand. With all due respect, millions of people went and watched your first movie. you made millions and millions of dollars. would that be the case if people considered the premise of an average looking chubby woman with a hottie far-fetched? so, a couple of people asked you questions on the publicity tour, what about the millions who validated your movie? Give me a break with your complaining. you are lucky to be where you are.
Tell that to Oprah! If she stopped parading all these celebrities who've recently lost weight, she might get in a show a week. And what about all her whining about her yo-yoing weight. It's a very sad example by an otherwise extraordinary woman. She should just get over it already and enjoy herself the way she is.
Kudos to you, Nia, for giving people the goods and not succumbing to Hollywood pressure. And thanks for making us Canadians proud!
For the record, I'm a woma and and I go to the movies. I watch whatever I think is a meaningful, good flick – often times it may not Hollywood drivel. And my mom's a movie watcher as well – my dad won't even go with her. So what a fallacy that guy was purporting.
But please, if Oprah comes calling, tell her that talk about your weight is off limits. Although they might rescind your invititation b/c of that!
I wonder who told us women that we should keep a 21 year old body forever anyway. Weight for a woman is a roller coaster and for a middle age man sometimes a big fat wallet, women never stay the same weight unless we choose to. Men, think we should never talk about their big fat A's..They sure talk about ours. The solution is both should pay attention.
I am a movie nut. My mother is a movie nut. Both my daughters, all of my sisters are . . . movie nuts. We go to the movies – all of us – about once a week depending on the season. Most of the people sitting in the movie theaters with us are . . WOMEN! Men – if there are no boobs or guns – just don't go. That movie exec was . . let me guess. . . a guy. If there is any FACT that you can rely on – movie execs are wrong 9 out of ten times they open their mouths. Oh, and Kudos on the self-discipline. I am overweight [okay, fat] and I know EXACTLY how to lose weight – I just end up feeling sorry for the bag of chips and stop throwing it and start caressing it. Someday maybe – but if not, that's okay too.
This is the right attitude to have about weight loss....
women don't have to be sizes zero – two to be pretty, or to look good, or to feel good about themselves. In fact, I prefer my women to have meat on their bones, to be sporty, yet have good energy. Too thin is unattractive, Too big is also unattractive. I eat... A LOT... a woman who can out eat me... not good... but a woman who eats less than a bird, also a major turn off.
And for the record, I have no clue why Mrs. Vardalos is classed as fat, unattractive, overweight etc... some people need their heads examined.
Thank you for this Nia. I love my curves and if it weren't for my health like you, I'd keep them. Unfortunately to be attractive you have to look like you are on crack these days. It's sad sad sad. Wasn't it way back when when it was just the opposite. Large women where more desirable because it was a sign of fertility, good health and strength?
I love this article...and yes the media does play a huge role on how women see themselves. Its an awful truth, that young girls are brought up thinking that the girl on the cover of the magazine is who they should be. And yes I know, most of you are saying "Your only saying that because your fat," Yes I am fat, but I do have a 12 year old neice, that is into gymnastics, and will not eat, because she has been told she is too fat...she weighs 75 pounds and is over 4 feet tall people! My 17 year old neice, although a little promiscuous, got pregnant, her weight at first 98 pounds! She was also told she was fat.....this is ludacris! No I am not proud of what I have done to my body, I am doing something about it, I hate having to diet and exercise, but those are the facts. There is not miracle diet, no miracle pill, it takes hard work and discipline....just like the doctors will tell you.....Thanks Nia for bringing this subject to the forefront again, and making it funny, so its less painful to think about.....
Loved it! You are so right. We judge everything nowadays by Hollywood standards. I am constantly amazed of how much value we place on physical appearance and we continue to glorify these women that look like skeletons with tanorexia! I think you are not only talented, but beautiful, no matter your size. Your confidence and self-esteem shine thorough, even more now that you're healthy. Look at Queen Latifah – healthy, not skinny. It's OK to have some skin (and yes, gasp, fat) on your bones. You don't need as much botox then (ha!) – all kidding aside, your skin, hair, etc. look so much better when you're healthy. Kudos and congratulations on the adoption, it's wonderful that you adopted here and not in the "country of the month" either. Our children need love too! You (and your hubby) make one very classy couple. Keep up the great work – love our movies!
Congratulations on your weight loss and getting your blood sugar under control. I too suffered for years until I discovered a full body nutritional cleansing program. I lost 65 pounds and I've kept it off for more than 2 years now. To see my before and after pictures and read my success story go to cleansebenefits.com/
The studio exec is obviously sniffing glue. Women DO go to movies. I'll get off my couch potato a%& and see your movie AND Sandra Bullock's.
It's time to support our sisters, not tear them down. We're so much more than a dress size or stereotype of what beauty is. I firmly believe that beauty is self-confidence.
So make a stand ladies and stop buying products and magazines that promote images that destroy the self confidence of the average woman. Megan Fox is not the norm!
I look forward to hearing about your adoption of a foster child. I've considered adoption myself and am very interested in your experience.
Keep listening to your own voice, Nia, and continue making movies that real people can relate to. Thanks!
Nia – thank you for the article and especially the visual of the Doritos bag! It is true that we want the easy fix and don't admit that it took time to pack it on, and it takes time and effort to get it off. Best of luck with the film.
I love this article. I loved you Nia in My Big Fat Greek wedding, and I love you in this article. You are a tremdous actor. You are believable, smart and witty. A genuine entertainer. I will see your new film regardless of what you look like. I look forward to your acting, your writing and the overall enjoyment of a really great movie. But by the way, you look beautiful, sound beautiful, are beautiful....then and now.
Not only am I a woman, I'm a FAT woman. And movies are like crack to me. I can't get enough. Well, let me be specific... GOOD movies are like crack to me.
I made the mistake of going with a friend to see "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" a few weeks ago and spent two hours wishing I had a patch of grass to watch grow or freshly painted wall to watch dry.
So perhaps, Mr. Studio Executive, it's not that women don't go to the movies. It's that we don't go to crappy movies that you think we're supposed to like.
That assumption offends me more than the judgement of being fat.
Wow, Nia u can speak for me on behalf of women all over the world anytime. I agree, there are so many more important, thought provoking, life lesson opening issues to talk about, than a woman's weight!!
I am the mother of 2 beautiful young ladies, 11 & 13, and I am proudest of them first and foremost. Of course, I have a weight issues too, who doesn't? The difference is I choose to focus on the more important things in my life, and my weight just isn't one of them, unless my overall health is being affected.
Kudos for you for speaking out!! Congrats on the adoption of your beautiful son. People need to start focusing on the important things in life.
You go girl!!!
Thanks, Nia! I love the attitude and point of view. That studio exec explains why theaters show movies from the toy aisle "Transformers ad nauseum" and I get my adult dramas from Netflix. How's your child doing?
Uhh... the media made a huge deal about "portly" Seth Rogen hooking up with Katherine Heigl. And I'm pretty sure the movie was largely about how he was beneath her as well. When the frumpy hook up with the hot, it's noticed. There may be more media examples of frumpy guys and hot chicks than the other way around, but when it happens it's noticed.
Nia you are gorgeous and were never "below average" or fat. Thanks for the refreshing and honest article~!
I loved this piece! It's not new(s), but as others have said, it's REAL, and that is what I appreciate the most. I really admire her attitude, and I CANNOT STOP LAUGHING over "Take that bag of Doritos and throw it as far as you can. Now chase after it. Pick it up, do it again."
Kudos, Nia! I will be seeing your film.
A group of girlfriends & I just had "Greek Night" with Greek food and you guessed it – "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". We didn't watch it for the umpteenth time for what people looked like but because it's a great movie!!! And I will be going to see 'My Life in Ruins"!
Amen sister! Enough of the double standard – I'm sick of ugly, aging guys and hot women young enough to be their daughters. Let' see REAL people in the movie and Nia, you're 100% real. "Greek Wedding " rocks and I love watching the audio commentary track on the DVD.
Perfectly said. The issue of weight loss is an every day fact of my life. I continue to try everything, and would definitely get the Ambien-induced glazed look that you described. In the last couple of months, I've decided to get serious. It's not a health issue, or even an actual weight issue, it's my personal perception. I have a few pounds to lose [read: more than 15] and I'm past the age where it mysteriously melts off for no apparent reason. I'm down to exercise, drinking water, watching the diet, and not eating after 7PM. I definitely miss the days when I could "wish" the fat away. And now, even with my proper process and very grown-up approach, there's still the voice in my head quoting "The Devil Wears Prada"...."I'm just one stomach flu away from my ideal dress size." [Obviously, old habits die hard].
Hollywood is all about appearance but unfortunately the double standard is a woman has to look like a Megan Fox to be hired whereas someone as fugly as Jack Black can get movie roles – starring ones at that. I'm not saying that Jack Black shouldn't get movie roles because I do enjoy them however where is the equivalent of a female Jack Black? Let's all be honest though...we go to the movies to escape the "real" world so who doesn't prefer a gorgeous woman on the big screen or a chiseled man? How many of us would really want to see the average person on the screen?
Thanks Nia for keepin' it real!
This is BEAUTIFUL. B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.
Women don't go to movies? That's the most absurd thing I've ever heard. Movies are still a great date. I think it's just that studio execs think women want 'soft' romantic comedies. That's not always true– I enjoy a great action flick with a strong female character (or not), too. Terminator with Linda Hamilton? But I adored 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' and I still watch it when it comes on television. I will see if my fiance wants to go and see 'My Life in Ruins' with me, because it's crazy to think good, female characters are being passed by because of some sexist idiots. Female characters have great complexities that are usually not found in male characters. Is the lead in 'The Reader' Ralph Fiennes' character, or Kate Winslet's? Absurd. Who won the Oscar? Women still need female characters to relate to. I think the problem is, that some are written by men and are as irritating to us, as they are to the misogynist that created them.
Awesome Nia! Women can be and are sexy and beautiful and succesful and funny and talented at any size. If we all carried ourselves confidently and proudly it would never be an issue, but sadly we allow others to be our critics and we soak up their insecurities. I don't care how you lost the weight...or even that you did...Im just thrilled to see your face on the screen making me smile.
Go, girl! I spent years hoping for a miracle weightloss solution. Finding out that my blood sugar had been averaging 400+ made that smaller plate and longer walks look real good.
Finally. Refreshing to hear someone speak the truth.
I have already been two two movies in the past month Star Trek and Angels and Demons, and plan on seeing, Lost in the Ruins, A night at the Museum, and the new Transformers movie when it comes out.
Yes, I go to the movies – I like action, adventure, AND chick flicks!!
Ginny – St Louis
Awesome article!!! Amen to all of it! So sick of the stereotypes and double standards! When is okay to just take off all these friggin masks we wear and just be ourselves???
My g/f is the one that drags me to movies. I often see a trailer I like and then forget to go. She sees the trailer and makes a note of when to go. The exec you refer to is a dolt and not quite with it when it comes to what the audience is.
Hey, how are you? Of course the media would do this, you're right....who cares? You're still you and sounds like doing great regardless. I'd much rather hear about your adoption. I guess you just have to put up with shallow people who only care about one thing. I'm so sick of the media in general....Except for Anderson Cooper and Larry King, and Oprah, they rock!
I love this attitude you have about the subject of weight loss. Why is it such a big deal? Every person who interviews you or asks you about it is just perpetuating the idea that women are nothing more than their dress size, unless of course, they already had that perfect body..then and only then, can their other accomplishments be deemed worthy of mention. I'm not saying that weight loss isn't an accomplishment - it is. I have lost 100lbs recently.
I would much rather know about your adoption. I so wish more people would look right here at the foster system before going overseas to adopt a baby or toddler.
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