Celebrity Weight Battles: Winners and Losers

Tyra and Jessica Simpson are down and Mariah and Kevin Federline are up.

Oct. 15, 2009— -- Tyra Banks has always been an advocate for women of all shapes and sizes.

After an unflattering picture of her in a bathing suit appeared in a tabloid magazine, Banks defended her fuller figure on her show, and even appeared on the cover of People magazine with the headline "You Call This Fat?"

But after dropping 30 pounds, the former supermodel was singing a different tune. She flaunted her new physique during a recent photo shoot in New York.

The 35-year-old Banks, who is now a slim size 6, gushed over her smaller figure on her show.

"I always feel great when I don't have clothes on," she said, admitting she might be "doing a little T.M.I. (Too Much Information)."

"When I told the world to kiss my fat ass, I remained that size for two years. I maintained it with my ice cream and my salad with ranch dressing and croutons and bacon bits."

Apparently, she has tossed the bacon bits and ice cream and is once again triumphing over the scale. We just can't seem to get enough of stories like hers, says Lesley Kinzel, author of the blog Fatshionista.

"It's partly aspirational," Kinzel said. "We look up to celebrities as a vision of our idealized life and body. When a celebrity is able to lose weight successfully, it's a boost to a lot of people."

On the flip side, when celebrities gain the weight back, we are equally fascinated. "It's related to making ourselves feel better about our own failures to lose weight."

With shows like "More to Love" on television and plus-size models gracing the pages of Glamour, Kinzel believes there is a cultural shift toward more acceptance of different body types.

That said, will we ever stop caring about celebrities' weight?

"Never," she said.

Here now, ABCNews.com looks at five celebrities currently up on the scale and five, including Tyra, who are down.


Jessica Simpson

Like a lot of stars, Simpson's weight fluctuates.

Earlier this year, the pop-turned-country singer endured a public hazing when she dared to wear a pair of high-waist jeans at a concert, showing off a more curvaceous figure.

"Clearly, since we saw her last, she slayed that dragon named dignity and just spooned frosting into her mouth full-time," wrote the blog "What Would Tyler Durden Do?"

Fox's NFL Sunday mocked her weight gain in a cartoon skit, with coach Wade Phillips saying, "Say, Tony, is Jessica around? We could use a defensive tackle!"

Fox and its sponsor Burger King apologized to Simpson through a statement issued to US Weekly yesterday. "Upon reflection, our poor attempt at humor was insensitive and we deeply apologize to anyone who might have been offended," the statement read.

Seems Simpson has gotten the last word on the matter by parlaying her extra pounds into a paycheck.

Celebs on the Scale

The 28-year-old Simpson got a new gig headlining VH1's upcoming reality series, "The Price of Beauty," which will follow her as she travels the world in search of what people find beautiful and why.

"I have always believed that beauty comes from within and confidence will always make a woman beautiful, but I know how much pressure some women put on themselves to look perfect," Simpson said in a statement to ABCNews.com. "I am really looking forward to discovering how beauty is perceived in different cultures and participating in some of the crazy things people do to feel beautiful."

On top of that, Simpson has streamlined her physique, once again showing off the legs that made her famous in "The Dukes of Hazzard."

Jennifer Love Hewitt

Hewitt is another celebrity who has faced scrutiny after packing on extra pounds.

Last year, the actress defended herself against nasty headlines after an unflattering photo of her in a bikini went viral.

"What I should be doing is celebrating some of the best days of my life and my engagement to the man of my dreams, instead of having to deal with photographers taking invasive pictures from bad angles," she wrote on her Web page in January 2008. "Like all women out there should, I love my body."

Eight months later, a slimmed-down Hewitt was on the cover of Us Weekly, boasting an 18-pound drop in 10 weeks. And in the October issue of Self, she again donned a bikini, claiming that her no. 1 weight loss trick is burning the scale.

Kinzel said when Hewitt and Simpson have a "bad month" they end up the subject of all the blogs' fury. Then, when they lose the weight, they land on the magazine covers. Such stories, Kinzel said, bring media attention to them, while sending a message that their yo-yo cycle of gaining, dieting and losing, is normal when it's really unhealthy and even dangerous.

Mel B

Scary Spice was looking downright scary in 2007 after packing on the pounds following the birth of her daughter Phoenix (Eddie Murphy is the daddy).

But then, the former Spice Girl took matters into her own hands with healthy eating and a strict exercise regimen, losing 42 pounds in eight weeks.

She maintains it now with her own Mel B workout videos that combine fat-burning cardio dance-based moves with stomach-, butt- and thigh-tightening exercises.

Valerie Bertinelli

Kinzel warns Bertinelli, the "One Day at a Time" actress, to watch out: "Kirstie Alley is Valerie Bertinelli's future."

Celebs Win and Lose With Weight

"The only thing that she's famous for right now is losing weight," Kinzel said. "That's why we're interested in her life all of a sudden."

Indeed, Bertinelli is milking her time in the spotlight as a Jenny Craig spokesperson, with a bestselling book and clad in a bikini on the cover of People magazine.


Mariah Carey

There's a widespread belief that marriage and weight gain go together. (Think of the phrase, "fat and happy.") In fact, studies have shown that newly married men and women gain 6 to 9 pounds more than their peers who are single and dating.

Mariah Carey, whose weight has been known to yo-yo, has certainly put on the post-nuptial pounds. "I'm a curvy girl and switch around with my diets all the time," she has said.

Some of the gain came while Carey was recording her latest album, "Imperfect Angel." An inside source told the New York Post: "[Mariah will] definitely tone up again when she releases her album, but as of now, she's stuffing her face."

But some of the extra pounds surely came from being in love with husband Nick Cannon.

"I love to eat," Carey told a reporter in June. "I never knew I could be this happy – it's pure bliss."

Kirstie Alley

There's nothing worse than losing a bunch of weight, becoming a national spokesperson for Jenny Craig, then gaining it all back and more -- all in front of the public eye.

That's exactly what happened to Kirsite Alley, the "Cheers" star who launched her comeback over her weight travails.

In April, Alley returned to the "Oprah Winfrey Show," where she had once famously paraded in a bikini after losing 70 pounds, and lamented falling "off the wagon."

"She was very candid about hating her body," said Kinzel. "It was upsetting, but at the same time, incredibly relatable."

Alley, who slimmed down to 145 pounds while on Jenny Craig, blew up to 228 pounds after her three-year contract ended. She admitted to People magazine that butter was her downfall.

"A lot of butter. If I'm at the movies, usually I eat popcorn without butter, but I'd say, 'I'm at the movies, so who cares?'" she told People in May. "And toast with butter. Or let's say I had two cups of pasta and six tablespoons of butter on it. There was a lot of butter going on."

Kevin Federline

When he caught the eye of his ex-wife, Britney Spears, Federline worked it out as the resident hunk of her backup dance crew. Now, his former six-pack abs have gone to flab, and the 31-year-old father of four can barely handle 18 holes of golf, let alone a sweaty stage routine.

Celebs Win and Lose Weight

Federline's excuse for looking nine months pregnant? "It's daddy weight!" according to Shar Jackson, the woman he was engaged to before Britney, and with whom he has two children.

"When you are a full-time parent, sometimes you can't focus on you," she told Us magazine.

Apparently, Jackson was on to something. According to a recent report by a British research firm, the average weight gain during pregnancy was 14 pounds -- and that was by the fathers-to-be.

Joaquin Phoenix

Phoenix's weight gain coincided with his exit from Hollywood. When the "Walk the Line" actor announced that he was ditching acting for a career in music, it appeared he had just let himself go.

When the bearded, bloated Phoenix turned up at a party last December, some Hollywood watchers were actually questioning his sanity.

Kinzel said the public has a very different reaction when male celebrities gain weight.

"With women, it's almost more offensive when they dare not force themselves to fit that idealized beauty," she said. "But with men who go down that same path, we look at them as kind of sad, probably just depressed. 'Joaquin is having a bad year.'"

Kelly Clarkson

Fans online can't stop speculating whether Clarkson is pregnant, especially following her spring appearances on "Saturday Night Live" and "American Idol."

Her reps keep squashing the rumors, but it's clear Clarkson continues to climb the scale. Comments like this one on the Web can't help: "She's gotten huge! I just saw her on 'SNL.' Lay off the Twinkies, or you're going to have a lot of new material about guys breaking up with you."

In the September issue of Self, she shot back at her critics. "When people talk about my weight, I'm like, 'You seem to have a problem with it; I don't. I'm fine!'" Clarkson told the magazine.

"My happy weight changes," said Clarkson, the "Idol" alum. "Sometimes I eat more; sometimes I play more."

She said she works out to feel better, not necessarily to lose weight. Her secret to losing weight, she said, is to not go on a diet.

"For me, it's the times when I'm not paying attention that I end up losing weight," she told Self. "But I'm never trying to lose weight – or gain it. I'm just being!"

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