Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy has long been a champion of women embracing their bodies, whether they are svelte or curvy. While she’d rather, understandably, talk about her work, she isn’t afraid to share her own weight loss struggles in order to support people who are on their own health journey.
In celebration of McCarthy’s Academy Awards nomination, we’re taking a look at her weight loss through the years, and how she has helped bring body positivity into the mainstream.
When McCarthy decided that she wanted to make it in Hollywood, she was warned by her manager that she needed to lose weight if she wanted to succeed. She took the criticism and rather than letting it deter her, it strengthened her resolve. The 48-year-old says that she hesitated to take on any roles that focused on weight because she didn’t find them funny and forged ahead with the career she dreamed of, instead.
“It really hurt my feelings,” she told People. “I understand that the odds are not as high as if I was skinny, but I still have talent. I thought, ‘I’ll show you!'”
By 2011, she had gained recognition and respect for her roles in Gilmore Girls, Samantha Who?, and Mike and Molly – a role for which she won an Emmy Award.
Still, McCarthy says she has tried some seriously intense diets. In 2000, she tried an all-liquid diet, supervised by her doctor, that kept her at just 500 calories a day. She says it helped her lose 70 pounds, but she felt hungry and unfocused all the time, so she’d never do it again.
Her weight climbed back up after her first pregnancy and even further after her second. Still, she said she made it her goal to be healthy and to feel good, not to reduce down to a specific weight.
In 2014, despite being nominated for an Academy Award, McCarthy says that she couldn’t find anyone to dress her for the Oscars. This, in part, helped drive her to create clothing for women of all sizes with a Lane Bryant collaboration and her own line called Seven7.
By 2015, the Bridesmaids star had lost 50 pounds, but not in the way most people expect. Instead of adopting an intense set of rules around eating, she lost weight by easing up on her diet mentality, she told People.
“I stopped over-analyzing, over-thinking, over-doing anything,” she said. “I kinda went back to when I was pregnant and I just stopped constantly being worried about it and I think there’s something to kinda loosening up and not being so nervous and rigid about it that, bizarrely, has worked.”
She says that she also amped up her workout regime when she found out she was starring in 2015’s Spy.
Even though she has fought her weight, McCarthy doesn’t want her daughters – or any women – to feel pressure to conform to any beauty standard. She teaches them to embrace their body as long as they feel good.
“There’s an epidemic in our country of girls and women feeling bad about themselves based on what.5 percent of the human race looks like,” she told Redbook.
Recently, McCarthy is looking like she may have even dropped a few more pounds, but that could just be how good the joy of her Academy Award nomination for her role in the film Can You Ever Forgive Me looks on her.