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Debra Messing says she was 'too skinny' during 'Will & Grace'

Messing went from a size 8 to a size 2 during her time on the hit NBC sitcom.
/ Source: TODAY

Debra Messing is opening up about how she felt pressured to lose weight while starring on "Will & Grace."

The 51-year-old Emmy winner told "I Weigh" podcast host Jameela Jamil that she went from a size 8 to a size 2 during her time on the hit NBC sitcom, which debuted in 1998.

Debra Messing, New York Fashion Week, February 2019
Debra Messing poses backstage at a fashion show at New York Fashion Week in February 2019Brian Ach / Getty Images

"When I started 'Will & Grace,' I was a size 8, and what happened was, every time I would go in for a fitting, I couldn't fit into clothes. You know, 80% of it I couldn't fit into, and I would leave just hating my body and hating myself," Messing recalled.

Though the show's costumer designer told her not to worry about her weight, Messing felt self-conscious whenever a larger size needed to be ordered for her.

Debra Messing and Eric McCormack in "Will & Grace" pilot episode
Messing, as Grace Adler, and co-star Eric McCormack, as Will Truman, in the pilot episode of "Will & Grace" (1998)Alice S. Hall / NBC

"So of course, I thought, 'My life would be so much easier, and it would be easier on everybody trying to do their job, if I just lost weight," she recalled. "So I started doing yoga every single day and I did one of those meal delivery services. I started to get smaller and then I was a 6, and they were like, 'You're losing weight, you look amazing!'"

Compliments about her thinner physique became twisted in Messing's head. She soon found herself thinking, "Oh, this is making them happy, so I should do more of it."

Debra Messing Smiling
Messing, who went from a size 8 to a size 2, says she got "too skinny" and it affected her health.Kurt Krieger / Getty Images

Obsessing about her weight ruined some of the joys that came with being on a hit sitcom, like walking the red carpet at at one of her first Emmy Award ceremonies.

"This was supposed to be the greatest moment of my life, being nominated for best actress in a TV show I loved for an Emmy and walking on the red carpet. I walked out and I immediately felt so incredible, and then I was standing next to all of these other actresses who were half my size, and I felt fat, and I felt ugly," she recalled.

Messing also felt humiliated during her early magazine photo shoots because she couldn't fit into the clothes.

"It was always a source of intense stress," she said, "because I would arrive and they would only have sample sizes in all of their clothes. And sample sizes were size 0, size 2. And I was a size 8. They were like, 'OK, well, we'll leave the back open and OK, we'll tape the back to your body.' It was always this problem-solving that had to be done: 'What are we gonna do with Debra's body?'"

Messing now wishes that she had been gentler on herself during that time.

"I look back at those pictures and I was beautiful! I mourn the fact that that was my interpretation of reality and that was the torture that I put myself through," she shared.

She also says she got "too skinny" — and her body let her know it.

"My body just could not hold out," she recalled. "My adrenals crashed, I was exhausted and it just became clear to me that I couldn't be healthy and a size 2 at the same time."