Battling the mirror. Debra Messing skyrocketed to fame as Grace Adler on the hit sitcom Will & Grace, but the actress was struggling with her body image behind the camera.
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The Wedding Date star, 51, opened up about her past insecurities about her weight on the latest episode of the “I Weigh with Jameela Jamil” podcast.
“When I started Will & Grace I was a size 8, and what happened was, every time I would go in for a fitting, I couldn’t fit into clothes,” Messing said. “Eighty percent of it I couldn’t fit into, and I would just leave hating my body and hating myself. I loved my costume designer, she would always say, ‘Don’t worry,’ and she would talk to her assistant and say, ‘OK, can you call over and get a larger size?’ And that was sort of the thing that was always on repeat all the time.”
The Brooklyn native recalled attending the 2000 Emmy Awards, where she was nominated for Best Leading Actress in a TV comedy. However, Messing found herself comparing her body to other actresses at the event.
“This was supposed to be the greatest time of my life, being nominated for Best Actress in a TV show I loved for an Emmy and walking on the red carpet,” she said. “I walked out and I immediately felt so incredible, and then I was standing next to all of these other actresses who were half my size, and I felt fat, and I felt ugly.”
Messing decided to lose weight using a meal delivery service and noted that her fittings became easier even though she wasn’t at a healthy weight.
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“I was way too skinny,” she admitted. “But, you know, going in for those fittings, I fit into everything. And all of a sudden, I literally could fit into anything that was high fashion. So all of a sudden, everything seemed to open up for me, because I was a 2.”
However, she eventually became sick from trying to maintain her drastic weight loss. “My body just could not hold out,” Messing said. “My adrenals crashed, I was exhausted and it just became clear to me that I couldn’t be healthy and a size 2 at the same time.”
The actress starred on Will & Grace from 1998 to 2006 and reprised her role as the title character in the revival series from 2017 to 2020.
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Not only is Messing not afraid to criticize Hollywood’s obsession with body image, but the Emmy winner has spoken out about the media “pitting women against each other.” She told Us Weekly in May that she thinks it’s a “trope” used to diminish women.
“It’s tired, but also because if you acknowledge how powerful women are when they do what they do best — which is organizing and multitasking and working together toward fixing problems — then you have to acknowledge your power and I think that’s what ultimately scares people,” Messing said.