Next to maybe Oprah, Kirstie Alley is one of the most notorious yo-yo dieters of the generation. For years, the one-time Cheers bombshell (and Golden Globe and Emmy winner) has been shilling various diet products and systems (remember when she was doing Jenny Craig?), and being extremely public about her struggles with weight. And every time she gains or loses in the triple digits, everyone wants to know: how does she do it?
Her secret may be Scientology.
This week, Alley did it again when she popped up somewhere other than a reality show or Us Weekly cover–she was at Fashion Week, on a runway, walking for Zang Toi, and looking fierce. Immediately, just about every news outlet exploded with the photos of her new figure, sans 100 lbs, and the age-old questions began to surface. But, per usual, very few people are talking about what may be one of her most influential dieting inspirations: her religion.
Founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology, which Alley converted to in the 1990s and credits for her sobriety from cocaine, emphasizes taking control over one’s body. Sickness, injury, or bodily weakness (including being overweight) are considered symptoms of a lack of commitment and control–which starts to sound a lot like the thinking of those with disordered eating.
Additionally, Scientology teaches that taking medication, even in extreme circumstances, renders the body unclear and toxic, which means that for believers like Alley, surgery and other dramatic weight loss solutions are not an option.
However, as a celebrity (and a big donor to the Church), Alley is possibly under less pressure than the average Scientologist to stay fit and healthy. Overweight Scientologists are routinely counseled to undergo detox plans, as laid out by the Church, to help them achieve “cleanliness” of the body (read: loss of fat). And while Alley and other celebs probably aren’t being leaned on as hard, this message of the Church is assuredly something that resonates with her, particularly considering the flak she’s received from the media (and investigators) regarding her diet supplement, a drug-free detox program that’s very similar to those recommended by the Church. The line, called “Organic Liaison,” has even been accused of being a front for Scientology, designed to raise funds and funnel money back to the Church–claims that Alley vehemently denied.
Regardless of whether her diet plan actively funds the Church, with the kind of message that Scientology sends, it’s highly likely that the Church inspires her weight loss. And while many disagree with questionable medical teachings espoused by Hubbard, if it helps Alley keep the weight off this time, then good on her.
Image: Getty, via Huffington Post