April 6, 2005
In today's NYT "At Lunch With" column, Frank Bruni shares a tasteful meal in Midtown with Delta Burke. Naturally, Delta is featured because she's currently starring in the Broadway revival of Steel Magnolias. Haha! No, I'm kidding. If you read the article twice, as I did, you might pick up on that. Actually Delta is featured because she's fat.
In case you didn't know that Delta was fat, Bruni sets the scene by opening the article thusly: "She grabbed hold of a French fry. She dragged it through ketchup. And then, without apology or visible regret, she ate it."
Just how fat is she? Well, Bruni helpfully mentions that Delta weighed 110 pounds as a beauty queen; 145 when she started on Designing Women, 200 when she left the show and 215 at her highest weight. Today she weighs 165 and is 5 foot 6 and appears "chubby". Surprisingly, her BMI and graphs of weight gain and loss were not included as sidebars.
I find this particularly interesting because previous "At Lunch With" columns tend to focus on career achievements and interesting celebrity factoids - John Grisham's legal background for instance, or how circus members live on the off-seasons. In Delta's feature, we learn that she was thin and then fat; she was nominated for 2 Emmys for being fat*; she designed fat lady clothing; she's not quite so fat now; and she loves "Snickers bars, as well as coffee ice cream and macaroni and cheese." Why? Because Delta's career is Professional Fat Person.
But what's this? Even though she's fat, Bruni notes with astonishment that Delta only eats a quarter of her cheeseburger and orders a low-calorie sorbet for dessert. Well, no fucking shit. Bruni clearly doesn't know the first rule about being overweight, which is that people who are self-conscious about their weight never eat around other people - particularly reporters for national newspapers. After being professionally fat for twenty years, Delta knows better than to eat a whole hamburger in front of someone. She clearly went into this interview knowing what it was about; she wasn't going to be asked about returning to theater, or what it's like being on Broadway. She wasn't going to talk about working with Frances Sternhagen or even asked to dish about Annie Potts. She was going to have her eating habits and appearance scrutinized and published in the New York Times.
Frankly, I'm surprised she didn't order a garden salad.
* And if you've ever seen the episode of Designing Women that she was nominated for (in which she goes back to her high-school reunion and wins the "Most Changed" award), you already know that she can act the harem pants off Kirstie Alley. And yes, I love Designing Women, and I will not apologize for it.
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