O, The Oprah Magazine | From the October 2005 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
Senior Associate Producer—started at Harpo in 1996.
When Stacey Halprin first appeared on our show in 1987, she weighed 550 pounds and rarely went out in public. The show followed up on her years later, and our hidden cameras recorded the cruelty she endured. Children snickered. People stopped just to hurl insults at her. We watched as she moved through the world, makeup caked on her face to hide her shame; we heard about her moments of humiliation, like when she broke a friend's bed. A few years ago, Stacey underwent gastric bypass surgery and started a steady exercise routine and a healthy diet. She has lost more than 300 pounds and even has her first boyfriend.
For years I'd been one of those women who thought, why can't overweight people just eat less? It wasn't until I heard Stacey's story that I recognized obesity as a disease. I grew up with an overweight mom who'd been on a diet since she was 9 years old; when I was a child, my mom's size embarrassed me. But Stacey's story led me to have a conversation with my mother—to stop and really hear her—and I began to understand her struggles for the first time.