Why Is Katie Holmes So Obsessed With Being Thin?

What exactly changes in your life when you are a size 0 or even smaller? Do you get more friends, feel more loved or attain greater happiness? Does it really improve the way you feel about yourself, or verify that you still aren’t enough? I’ve been wondering what really drives the obsession with being thin after watching yet another celebrity slim down to the point she is skeletal. The beautiful Katie Holmes has gone from fit, sexy and stunning to super skinny and looking anorexic.

This isn’t the first time Katie has restricted herself so severely to be thin enough, but thin enough for whom or for what? Does she even really understand why she feels the need to starve herself? Isn’t she beautiful enough or good enough when she is fit, healthy and filling in her clothes with a few lovely curves? She doesn’t appear to think so. Yet Tom Cruise certainly thought so when he fell in love with her, back when she had those curves.

I wonder the same thing about the people who call me fixated on being a certain weight. They want a program that guarantees quick results, and they want to start seeing changes on their scale within the first couple of weeks. I explain that I can’t guarantee they will lose weight right away, but I can ensure them they will feel better, start to get healthier and have a program in place that will help them reach and maintain their goals. Those who choose to work with me understand that feeling better and being healthier and fit is more important and really what matters, and that losing weight isn’t the main priority or worth a severe quick fix.

Yet they do still want to lose weight and have a number in mind that they want to reach. Nearly everyone I talk to is obsessed with their weight and the number on their scale. Yet this number is seldom ever seen by anyone else. It is for your eyes only. Almost no one knows what size clothes you wear or what the scale says when you get on it. The numbers you are focused on doesn’t mean anything to the people around you, unless you’ve made it a big deal. Instead they are more worried about their own numbers, and you probably have no idea what they are or what they “should” be for them.

Think about it. No one cares if your scale says 210, 175, 135 or 110 – or what ever magic number you are fixated on. They don’t care or know what size clothes you wear. They may be concerned if you are grossly overweight, but their concern is for your health not your size. Or they may be judging you for your size, for comparison in judgment of themselves.

So where does the shame and burden about a specific size and weight come from? From what I’ve learned, the first diet book was published in 1850 around the same era when scales and beauty pageants appeared. Initially people were more concerned about health, but in the 1900s and particularly in the 20s the focus shifted to beauty and sex appeal. In 1921 the first Miss America Pageant was held in Atlantic City and during the next two decades, up until the war, dieting became commonplace. I’ve had older clients that began dieting and obsessing with the scale since the 1930s or 40s, and they have never felt satisfied with their weight or themselves. Their obsession has left them feeling deprived, unfulfilled, inadequate and perpetually overweight. Other clients watched their mothers obsess, and they now pay the price for hand-me-down poor body image and dysfunctional eating.

Clearly the problem is cultural and driven by what the media and fashion industry chooses to promote as beautiful and desirable. In 2006, the fashion world was rocked when Spanish organizers and the Italian government banned ultra thin models on their runways during fashion week, but sadly this year the call for healthier women on the catwalks was a distant memory. Only the thinnest got the jobs. This reinforces that you can’t be thin enough, and maybe that is what Katie Holmes now believes as she sits with Victoria Beckham in the front row of these shows.

What I know for sure is that weight, in and of itself, doesn’t matter. I don’t have a scale and I’m comfortable having a range of sizes in my closet to accommodate the ups and downs of my weight, what ever it happens to be. I’ve never had anyone point out that I’m wearing the larger sizes. Instead people seem to think I look good regardless of which size I’ve got on.

This week, stop obsessing about your own weight and consider if you know or care what others around you weigh. Then ask yourself why you care so much about the numbers on your scale. If you are healthy, fit and feel good about yourself, what difference does it make what they are? It doesn’t.

Get the best YourTango advice, celebrity news and giveaways in your email inbox daily. And it's free.