Words of Wisdom
Rania says her family never discusses the possibility that Hussein, their oldest child, could be the future King of Jordan. Instead, she says they strive to remain like any other family. For instance, to get the things they want the children have to clean their rooms and do well in school. "The most important thing is to instill them with the right values," Rania says. "I just feel that values are the shield that you carry with you throughout life. It protects you from whatever life throws at you."
Issues with her mother, Naomi, and problems with men and self-esteem all led to a pattern of overeating. Where is Wynonna now in her journey to health? "I want to be further along in my journey," Wynonna says." ... [But] I woke up this morning and I thought, 'What's my motto for today?' And it was, 'I may not be where I want to be, but I'm sure as heck not where I was.'"
Wynonna says that only recently has she learned how to communicate more effectively with her mother and husband. "We expect family members, mates, to really read our minds," she says. "I'm learning to ask for what I need."
Reese says it was no easy feat to transform herself into June...and she was scared! She says she was "gobsmacked" by the demanding role and begged to get out when she learned she'd need to sing and play the autoharp.
"I called my attorney, my agent, my manager," she says. "Can't they call LeAnn Rimes? She's good! There are plenty of people that do this for a living. I'm just an actress!'"
After voice and instrument lessons, panic gave way to gradual acceptance. "It's good to have that kind of challenge in your life," Reese says, "It's important to do things that scare you to death!"
For Melissa, it was a defining moment. Despite being weakened by the cancer treatment, Melissa rocked the stage that evening. "It was important for me to get back up, get up on the horse and ride," she says.
During her recovery, Melissa says she found "an amazing meditation."
"It was perspective," she says. "My spirit is going. I have love. I have feelings. I have thoughts. I have a whole world going on, but my body is not available to me now. ... I now no longer fear death because I know that, yeah, this body goes away; it will terminate—but that which is inside me goes on and on no matter what. And it really raised me up to that energy."
Though the divorce has been extremely difficult for all involved, Uma and her children, Maya and Levon, are finding a new path for their lives. "I think the number one thing that keeps you from doing better than your best is fear," Uma says. "When you go through [the worst] ... you get through your fear a little bit, too, because it's happened. And that makes you stronger."
"I really believe that we look physically the way we do because of the emotional impact that we've made on our bodies during our life," Charlize says. When developing a character—both inside and out—Charlize says she keeps that philosophy in mind. "We start with the emotional stuff and then I try to go,' Well, these are the marks that this emotional life has left on her body.'" She says that when women try to eliminate the wrinkles on their face, "it's like burning your photo albums."
"We all go through a lot of turmoil and a lot of difficult things that maybe we'd want to forget," Charlize explains. "But you grow from those things and when you see those moments and those lines, it's not looking back at devastation. It's going, 'I've grown from this.' And so in a way ... you've earned it."
Juggling a musical career and mom duties isn't easy, and even Faith has a bad hair day every once in awhile. But she has learned to keep everything in perspective. "In my mind...[if] you wake up healthy, and you wake up happy, and your family's safe and happy and healthy," she says, "then everything else pales in comparison."
"I made some good decisions simultaneously with some bad decisions," Kirstie says of her weight gain. "The good part of it was, 'I'm going to spend more time with my kids, I'm going to cook.' The bad decision was—and this is the dumbest decision I've ever made in my life—it went like this: If a man really loves me, he will not have to love me for my body. He will really love me just for me. ... When did I decide I was a big fat girl?"
When Kirstie began following Jenny Craig's diet plan and working as the program's spokesperson, her weight started dropping. Kirstie also kicked her smoking habit and found more benefits to her healthy new lifestyle. "There are things that have happened that I didn't think about happening—I've lost 17 1/2 percent body fat," she said. Kirstie is back again and better than ever!
When Tamara isn't running her multimillion-dollar company, she's spending time with her daughter, Minty. Tamara's already designed the smallest pair of Jimmy Choos for her biggest fan. "Being a mother is the greatest thing in the world," she says.
Tamara says her ex-husband, Matthew Mellon, struggled with drug addiction, and they separated in 2003. He's now sober and a wonderful father to Minty, but Tamara says she grew from the difficult experience. "I have a personal motto that I live by, which is feel the fear and do it anyway," says Tamara. "If you fail, you get up and you keep trying again. I'd love to be an inspiration for women to say they can do it."
Mary turned to drugs and alcohol early in life and struggled with addiction for years. The music industry's partying lifestyle accelerated her downward spiral. She says her turning point came in 2001. After the loss of a close friend, her grief was compounded by the death of fellow hip-hop star Aaliyah on August 25 and the 9/11 tragedy.
Mary has now been sober for about five years. She attributes her progress to her religious faith and the power of forgiveness.
The new energy in Mary's life comes across in her music. "It's called freedom," she says. "Letting people's opinions be their opinions and not letting their opinions be my life—not letting what they say in the tabloids about me make me or break me. I know what I am in my heart. I know what I believe about me. That's the freedom I have in performing and looking in people's eyes and being able to smile from my heart."
How does this Oscar legend feel about the challenges of aging as an actress? The proud mother of two, whom she adopted in her 50s, Diane says she's more concerned with how aging will affect her children—not her career. "I think about [aging] in relation to my kids a lot," she says. "I've got to be healthy. ... I worry about them if something happens. I'm a single parent like so many women in this world, and all the responsibility falls on me."
Hollywood pressures weigh less heavily on Diane—she says she's wary of jumping on the plastic surgery bandwagon. "The reason I haven't is because I'd like to go out authentic," she says.
"Maybe that's a female thing, but it's crazy how you have to talk yourself into protecting yourself and allowing yourself to expand," Meg says. "Anaïs Nin has this beautiful quote. 'And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.'
"There are times in every woman's life where she does need to get out and expand and do all those things that make her the best version of herself."
"Growing up we had a lot of insecurities," Serena says. "Even now we still have so many insecurities. It's not like we're perfect. ... [We want] to let [teens] know that celebrities and stars, not only just us, but everyone has these issues as well."
Venus says that to this day, she still works on coming out of her shell more, and looks to her sister, Serena, as a role model for self-confidence.
"I had a hard time making friends, because I was really shy, and I still am shy," Venus says. "That was one of the ways I always wanted to be like Serena. But you do have things that you struggle with. You can't be perfect in everything. I found out, sure, maybe I didn't have as many friends, but it was something that I could work on."
"I'm so petite and being a black woman, you know, black men like a little [bigger body]!" Jada says. "So, you know, it just got to a point where I just had to learn how to love me. And as long as you love yourself, people have no choice but to accept what you are. That's what it comes down to."
Jada says that out of all her accolades and accomplishments, she prides herself most on being a mother. But like most mothers, she realizes it's becoming harder and harder to protect our daughters in today's society.
"I do treasure [motherhood] the most," Jada says. "It's the most challenging job I have. It's very difficult. Especially now raising children because they're bombarded with so much information. ... It's about starting with planting those little seeds of self-esteem. We need to start giving our young girls affirming messages. That's what my grandmother did for me. She would always tell me, 'Jada, you can do whatever.'"
Pink says striving to imitate the hottest celebrity squanders a young woman's own individuality and potential. "My definition of 'stupid' is wasting your opportunity to be yourself," Pink says, "because I think everybody has a uniqueness and everybody's good at something.'"
Pink says that if she had compromised herself as a young girl by acting "stupid," she wouldn't be where she is today—a message she hopes to convey to other girls. "If you are going to be the future rock stars [or] whatever you want to be—then you're wasting your time trying to be somebody else because you'll never get to you."
Teri says that the abuse damaged her self-esteem, and her mother also played a role in her emotional development. "[My mom] was very self-sacrificing...but almost to a bad point," Teri says. "She just never took anything good for herself, and that was kind of my role model and sort of what I ended up doing."
Her mother's selfless nature inspired the title of Teri's book, Burnt Toast. "It was an expression that came out of my mouth when I was doing a Barbara Walters special," Teri says. "I was explaining what I do, you know, that I eat the burnt toast. I take what is last, and I learned that from my mother."
When Teri celebrated her 40th birthday, she says she began to reevaluate her life and how she wanted to live it. "I thought, 'I don't want to do this anymore. There has to be a balance between taking everything for yourself or taking nothing...and in the middle is the golden buttery brown toast,'" she says.
After four years of marriage, Lance and Kristin announced their divorce. In the years since, Kristin says she's been able to accept responsibility for the mistakes she made during her relationship. In April 2006, Glamour magazine published an article Kristin wrote called, "What I Wish I Had Known About Marriage."
In her article, Kristin says she gave up her independence after getting married, and in doing so, lost part of herself. "There isn't anything wrong with making sacrifices and working together. But I think as long as each person can hold onto themselves, and it's a mutual experience of growth—that's the beautiful part. That's the point."
Lance and Kristin have been divorced since 2003, but she says their relationship is good. "Lance and I need to go forward honoring each other because that's the way that we can still show our children that love is lasting and love is unconditional."
It was after she realized what she had allowed to happen to herself that Robin sunk into a deep depression. After years of living in a fog, Robin decided she wanted to change her life. She became committed to getting well. "I talked to a doctor every day and I prayed a lot. ... I started at the bottom rung of just being happy," she says.
For Robin, getting help was the beginning of a whole new life. She says she has redefined herself and her dreams. Since her divorce, she started a family and she says she has focused on trying to be the best mom she can be to her sons.
"I'm in love with those two boys," Robin says. "And life is so good. And I'm here to say also that I'm sure there are people who have felt like I felt. Like maybe they couldn't go on. And you can turn a corner. You can be happy again. You can live."
What does Meryl know for sure? "I know life is short and I'm a lucky woman," she says. "I think that you find your own way. You have your own rules. You have your own understanding of yourself, and that's what you're going to count on. In the end, it's what feels right to you. Not what your mother told you. Not what some actress told you. Not what anybody else told you but the still, small voice. ... Beyond that, I don't know. And it's the not knowing that's the good part. To me, mystery is the most beautiful thing—the fact that you can't figure it out—that's it for me. That's for sure."
Then, in 2004, Tracey was in the headlines again. Returning home from a Labor Day barbecue with her family, Tracey lost control of her SUV on the freeway. It veered off the road and rolled over several times down an embankment, injuring her husband and two of her three children.
When police arrived, Tracey was arrested for driving under the influence. Her blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit. She says that coming to terms with her DUI was similar to how she's come to terms with her eating disorder. "The correlation with the anorexia for me was that I've always been the person who's the people-pleaser, the person who tries to make everybody else happy. I've come a long way and I've done a lot of work on myself, and I'm really proud of myself about that. But it's still a part of who I am."
"Things don't just happen out of the blue," she says. "It's not a rock falling from the sky. It happens for a reason. [This happened from] not allowing my [inner] voice to sort of just speak for myself. ... I really, really get it now."