SALON TALKS

"I am enough already": Valerie Bertinelli stopped looking at the scale — and she hasn't turned back

"I bought into the whole diet industry," Bertinelli tells Salon. "I'm actually a little ashamed of my role in it"

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Published April 8, 2022 11:00AM (EDT)

Valerie Bertinelli presents onstage during Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented by Capital One Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite featuring Culinary Demonstrations presented by Capital One at Pier 94 on October 13, 2018 in New York City. (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for NYCWFF)
Valerie Bertinelli presents onstage during Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented by Capital One Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite featuring Culinary Demonstrations presented by Capital One at Pier 94 on October 13, 2018 in New York City. (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for NYCWFF)

Thirteen years ago this week, Valerie Bertinelli had a pioneering break the internet moment when she posed for the cover of People magazine in a skimpy green bikini at 48 years old.

The actress and author's up-and-down relationship with the scale has been not only lifelong but also entirely public, starting with her role as teenager Barbara Cooper in the classic sitcom "One Day at a Time."

Today, Bertinelli is more focused on fitting into her identity than a bathing suit. Her latest memoir is called "Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today." As she explained during a recent episode of Salon Talks, "enough already" means enough with "the self-loathing, the bad talk, being unkind to ourselves."

"It also means I am enough already. I don't have to be a certain weight on the scale," she added. "I don't have to be a certain size in my jeans. I'm enough. We all are all enough."

Reflecting on her years in the spotlight, Bertinelli recalled learning at a "very, very young age that when I gain weight, I'm unlovable, which is a huge lie."

"I had an elementary school teacher point at my belly and say, 'You're going to want to keep an eye on that.' Before that, I wasn't even aware of my body," she said. "Those things now make me angry."

"What they did to me as a young child is they gave me a core memory of how to be accepted. Don't gain weight — that will make you unlovable. Now, I'm just trying to dig all of that crap out of my body and my heart and my mind so that I can truly live in this body that I have today and just accept myself."

RELATED: Valerie Bertinelli on loving herself, food and Betty White

At the same time, Bertinelli admitted to buying into the diet industry — as well as lingering shame over her role in it.

"I bought into the whole diet industry. I'm actually a little ashamed of my role in it — that I would ever make someone feel less than just because I got into a bikini," she said. "It was my job to do that. I worked out twice a day. I barely ate. It was not a way to live a life, for sure. That's not the life that I want to live."

The actress also acknowledged having done "too many things" to make her life "miserable" — all because she didn't like the number on the scale. 


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"I never liked what the number on the scale said. It doesn't matter how small it was — when it was big, I wanted to hide away, but it was never small enough," she recalled. "What's the point? If that number's never going to make me happy, stop looking at it — and I have."

When Bertinelli finished writing the book, she indeed stopped getting on the scale — and her jeans still fit. Now, self-care looks a little bit different.

"Because I'm saying enough already . . . it doesn't mean that I'm not going to care about putting good things into my body. I want to eat more fruits and vegetables. I don't want to have as much alcohol. I want to have less sugar," she said. "I'm not going to deny myself anything, but I am going to try and treat my body in a way that will get me up those stairs when I'm 80 years old."

Read more on diet culture:


Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

MORE FROM Mary Elizabeth Williams


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Body Image Books Diet Culture Enough Already Food Salon Talks Valerie Bertinelli