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Valerie Bertinelli addresses past as diet spokesperson: 'I became part of the problem'

After starting a passionate conversation about body-shaming, the actor-turned-Food Network star set the record straight when a follower accused her of “shilling” for the diet industry.
Today - Season 69
Days after sharing an emotional video about body-shaming, Valerie Bertinelli opens up about diet culture and the role she played in it as a former Jenny Craig spokesperson.Zach Pagano / NBC
/ Source: TODAY

Valerie Bertinelli began an emotional and important conversation about body-shaming and personal acceptance on social media last week, and over the weekend, she kept that conversation going when one follower accused her of helping to “create the problem” by promoting diet culture.

Referring back to Bertinelli’s stint as a spokesperson for weight-loss and weight-maintenance brand Jenny Craig, the commenter said that the 61-year-old “spent decades telling the rest of us to get thin, shilled weight loss shakes, potions & snake oil & NOW wanna be a body shaming warrior? You don’t get to be a victim when you helped create the problem.”

In her response to that tweet, the actor, author and Food Network star pointed out the errors in the accusation — and owned the truths.

“I’m not a victim,” she wrote. “I can take the heat. I made the video so I could get my feelings out instead of squashing them down and eating them, which is what I usually do.”

The video she mentioned was the one she shared on Instagram last Thursday, in which she teared up as she explained the way she felt after being told she needed to lose weight.

In her latest reply, she continued, writing, “Yes, I spent 6 years ‘shilling’ for Jenny Craig. (your math’s a little off) I have been buying into the diet industry my whole life and then I became part of the problem, so here I am today receiving the karma of my actions.”

Bertinelli then issued a warning for her outspoken follower.

“You can go ahead and judge all you like,” she wrote, adding, “However, I can warn you, from experience, that kind of karma doesn’t feel great either.”

What does feel great is the support she’s received since opening up about the subject, an outpouring of positive messages that have outnumbered the negative.

The day after sharing that earlier video on Instagram, Bertinelli returned with another clip, in which she raved about the encouragement she's received.

“There's so much kindness out there,” she said, still emotional, but with a smile this time. “I certainly do not feel so alone anymore.”

Bertinelli has written several books about her experiences with diet culture and her relationship with food over the years. Her next book, “Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today,” comes out next January.