Debra Messing is looking back at her days on “Will & Grace.” The 51-year-old actress, who portrayed Grace Adler on the long-running series, was a guest on the Earwolf podcast “I Weigh” with Jameela Jamil, which challenges society’s definition of worth through weight. During their candid discussion, Messing admitted she felt “too skinny” while filming the series after dropping from a size 8 to a size 2.
Messing landed the role in 1998, which Jamil said was “at the height” of Hollywood’s untraditionally thin beauty standards. Jamil brought up how “the physique of the ’90s” was to be “wildly” thin, like Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox in “Friends” and Calista Flockhart.
“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. Eighty percent of it I couldn’t fit into, and I would just leave hating my body and hating myself,” Messing recalled. “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.”
“So of course, I thought, ‘My life would be so much easier, and it would be easier on everybody trying to do their job, if I just lost weight,” she continued. “So I started doing yoga every single day and I did one of those meal delivery services. I started to get smaller and then I was a 6, and they were like, ‘You’re losing weight, you look amazing!'”
Messing said that even though these people were just complimenting her, what she heard in her head “as a woman was, ‘Oh, this is making them happy, so I should do more of it.'”
“Then I was lucky enough to be invited on the red carpet to the Emmys and the Golden Globes, and that was the same time that ‘Ally McBeal’ was at its height and Calista was the ‘It’ girl and Portia de Rossi also was so so slim, and she’s spoken openly about her anorexia, so it’s all within sort of the same theme,” she remembered. “I would try to fit into these gowns and of course they weren’t sample sizes, and it was like, ‘OK, we have to let out the seams, etc.'”
“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. 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,” she continued. “I look back at those pictures and I was beautiful! I mourn the fact that that was my interpretation of reality and that was the torture that I put myself through.”
Messing concluded her story by telling Jamil she ultimately ended up getting down to a size 2.
“I was way too skinny,” she confessed. “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.”
“For awhile there, I was maintaining that, and then I got sick,” she added. “My body just could not hold out. 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.”
Hear more on Messing in the video below.
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