On February 2, 1987, The Oprah Show aired an episode about fat discrimination. This is where we first met 550-pound Stacey Halprin.
Desperate to get help for her weight, 25-year-old Stacey had written in to The Oprah Show about the daily struggles and dangers she faced as an extremely overweight woman. She wrote: "I weigh 550 lbs. This weight was taken on a grocery store meat scale. At night, I cannot sleep unless my head is propped up on six pillows because if I lie flat, I will choke. Each morning, I must shave my face because my hormones are so screwed up as a result of the weight. I have never been on a date. I want to be able to fit into public seats and to tie my own shoes. ... I'm going to die if I do not get help."
Overweight her entire life, Stacey shared her story with the audience and faced down several guests who discriminated against heavy people like her. One guest, Walter, told Stacey that men wouldn't find her attractive unless she were thin. "You've got to stop eating," he told her. "You're a pretty girl. Look at your face—you've got a great face. I can hardly wait until you lose the weight. I'd love to see what you look like, and I'll be the first one to throw my arms around you."
"And I'll throw them right off," Stacey responded.
Walter's discrimination toward overweight people was similar to what Stacey said she faced any time she went out in public. "It's people like Walter who make [life] miserable," Stacey said. "When this is all over and I lose my weight, I'm going to thank God that I went through this, and I'm not going to be ... like them."