Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

Some of you may know that Sarah Ferguson (Fergie), the Duchess of York, is a spokesperson for Weight Watchers. She lost a significant amount of weight on the program, and now periodically tours around the US drumming up support and inspiration for current and prospective members. In September, she appeared in Sacramento, which is just over an hour away from [my city].

It was a most powerful and eye-opening experience. Sarah Ferguson is a happy, charismatic person, but we could all see the inherent shyness in her as well. She was so candid and honest about her issues with her weight, body image, and how others (including her family) affected her self-perception. It was very powerful to see a 'celebrity' of sorts getting up there and admitting to having deep-seated issues; the very same issues that us average Janes in the crowd had !

She mentioned a few incidents that were beyond hurtful. The press referred to her as the Duchess of Pork. One tabloid published a survey that said 82% of people would rather sleep with a goat than her. The reporter had the nerve to say to her that he was only joking ! And of course, the magazine that refused to run an article they had interviewed and photographed her for, because she looked too 'weighty' to them. How horrible. My heart went out to her for having to go through all this, and in the public eye.

She runs a children's foundation that sells dolls and uses the proceeds to benefit children across America. Their office was on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center. One of these dolls sat in the window and watched over the City for a long time. When the planes hit the towers, a fireman took the doll, put it in his helmet and brought it down. She had that doll (or perhaps one like it, I don't remember) present at the meeting. It was a true symbol of perseverance above all.

Towards the end of the meeting, a 9-year-old girl named Hayley put up her hand and asked Fergie what it was like to be royalty. She answered that royalty was about being yourself, helping other people, and putting other people ahead of yourself. She said it was about giving to others and helping them in their time of need.

Then, as if inspired, she gave the little girl the doll. I couldn't stop a tear from forming in my eye. It was so powerful to see her give such a symbol of freedom and perseverance to a wide-eyed, admiring young girl.

I left that meeting with the highest respect for Sarah Ferguson. She is a truly remarkable human being.

[see next post]


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