April Moments

Maybe, just maybe, telling the story is just as important as the story itself

My newest soul sister: Thoughts on Chrissy Metz’s memoir

I don’t watch a lot of television, especially not network TV. So I am certainly no expert on shows and their popularity. However, I would venture to say that “This Is Us” is unique in the way it has gripped the country. And it’s on regular ol’ TV, not Netflix or Hulu.

I am also going to go out on a limb and say that one of the reasons the show is a nationwide favorite is because of Kate, played by the brilliant, kind and talented Chrissy Metz. How do I know these attributes about her? Because I just finished her memoir, “This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today.”

Before I go on about Metz, let me be clear: I don’t mean to slight any of the other actors from “This Is Us.” In fact, they are all wonderful. I mean, I’ve loved Mandy Moore, who plays matriarch Rebecca Pearson, since “A Walk to Remember.” And Jack is, like, everyone’s Pittsburgh dad, is he not? Plus, I relate to the entire “Big 3,” including Kevin and Randall, because their birth dates are pretty darn close to mine. Also, Beth – smart, sassy, true – all with her foster care/adoption heart; she is ah-mazing, as my mom would say. And, of course, we all know Toby is hilarious.

coverWith all that gushing, it’s probably easy to tell that I began reading Metz’s memoir with much positivity, and it did not disappoint. Honestly, I think it would’ve been pretty hard for me not to like the book.

Not only is Metz a more than capable actress and singer, but she is also a skilled writer. The girl can tell a story. And she shares lots of them. Funny ones. Sad ones. Enlightening ones. She is incredibly wise and insightful.

I don’t want to recount too much of the book. It speaks for itself, and I hope, if you are reading this blog, you will also read “This Is Me.” However, I do want to share a few thoughts on how I related to the memoir.

Metz tackles insecurity.

I can’t say this for sure, because I can only be me, but I think so many of us women – probably more than we think – are insecure about our bodies. I have been for a long time. As a plus-size woman, Metz has broken many unspoken “rules and regulations for dressing while plus-size.” These include not showing your arms, no body contouring, not wearing anything tight and never showing “any folds, curves, inconsistencies or, God forbid, your tummy.” Metz adds, “Never wear anything too revealing. You can’t be sexy if you’re a plus-size woman…. In fact, wear black from head to toe, stay silent, and please just let everyone forget you exist. Cool?”

Metz goes on to describe how plus-size women internalize these rules, police themselves and do their best not to cause trouble by even being seen. “These rules are so ingrained in us, we begin to think they’re for our own good,” Metz writes. “But they come from people who feel uncomfortable when they see images of plus-size women.”

Alright, I am technically not plus-size, but I have pretty much always been at the top end of regular size clothes. “Big girl sizes” is what I’ve called them. And, as I mentioned, I have struggled with body image and my weight and food for as long as I can remember. I think my ultimate goal would be to get to a point where I love my body, even if it doesn’t look the way it once did – at any given point in time when the number on my pants was less than it is now. I want to love this body God has given me. This body that has grown and birthed three beautiful humans. This body that has run two half marathons. Even though I don’t shop in the plus-size section, I have still internalized pretty much all of the sentiments Metz described. Wear black, don’t show your arms, no body contouring – all of which equate to, “Get in the background and STAY QUIET.”

Through years of struggling, whether with her step-father’s criticism about her weight or her relationship with food, Metz has truly learned how to love herself and not care what anyone else thinks. That is no small feat in our culture. “What people think about you is none of your business,” she shares. “You do what makes you happy, and you can’t control how it makes other people feel.”

Metz is kind and humble.

There are too many stories to mention, but Metz’s book is full of illustrations of her kindness and humility. She is truly a woman of character.

For example, after an exhausting day on the “This Is Us” set, Metz snapped at the man working the ticket booth at the lot exit. As she drove away, she realized her mistake and thought about grabbing some comfort food and eating her feelings. Instead, she turned around and returned to the lot, just so she could apologize to the man.

Metz is encouraging and inspiring.

Throughout her book, Metz offers short lessons, gleaned from her own life experiences. A theme that recurs is her encouragement to her readers to decide what they want – really think about it. Then go after it. Work hard. Believe in yourself.

She is just so positive and motivating. And friendly. I love her. Which leads to my next point.

Metz is basically my soul sister.

There is always the chance that when an actor or a singer writes a book, it’ll just be “meh.” I mean, writing is not necessarily their craft. I’m a writer, and acting is certainly not my thing. Therefore, you can imagine my delight when I quickly discovered that Metz has a gift for writing. Little personal touches made her lovable and her book, endearing. She uses a conversational tone and frequently addresses her readers with “Y’all” and “Honey.” I admit, I found the latter annoying at first, but it grew on me.

She explained how one of the exercises she did in a support group was to handwrite a letter to herself. “…of course I decorated the heck out of the letter and envelope with drawings and stickers. As one does.”

And I believe I have saved the best soul sister example for last. Those close to me know my love of music. I can seriously remember every single word to Lisa Loeb’s “Stay (I Missed You),” a song that is more than 20 years old, but I cannot recall what I ate for lunch one hour ago. My brain is a crazy place.

“I simply don’t stop (singing),” Metz writes. “Should we call it a gift or a compulsion? People say ‘Hello’ to me and I am suddenly singing Adele or Lionel back to them. Either one is appropriate. It’s as if I have a constant loop of theme songs, jingles, classics and the latest pop hits running through my head at all times. I just now started singing Willie Nelson’s ‘Always on My Mind.’ True story.”

My husband can verify that this is a completely accurate description of my brain.

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