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Marie Osmond says she wept over how she treated her body as a young entertainer: 'What a horrible thing I did to myself'

Marie Osmond reflects on her decades-long struggle with body image. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photo: Getty Images)
Marie Osmond reflects on her decades-long struggle with body image. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photo: Getty Images)

“It Figures” is Yahoo Life's body image series, delving into the journeys of influential and inspiring figures as they explore what body confidence, body neutrality and self-love mean to them. Read past interviews here.

Marie Osmond is finally at peace with her body, and free to do with it what she likes. “I’ve been under contract for six decades not to break my leg or break an arm or hurt my voice,” the 64-year-old entertainer tells Yahoo Life. “And I’m like, you know, I really just kind of want to enjoy my life.”

Osmond has been working since childhood, famously starring in the variety show Donny & Marie as a teenager. There, she got a taste for the Hollywood life, which included opportunities for travel and glamour. However, it also came with an understanding that her body wasn’t under her own control.

“I’ve been open about producers taking me into parking lots and telling me that at 103 pounds I was a fat pig,” she says, noting that moment as the beginning to a troubled history with her weight and restrictive eating. “I got down to like, 93 pounds. ... It created this body dysmorphic idea that I had to be skinny to be on TV or to be in the entertainment business or to be accepted.”

Despite her continued success in the industry, Osmond hasn’t shied away from acknowledging that she’s struggled with the beauty standards that exist within it for a majority of her career. While she didn't know there was a term for the feelings of body dysmorphia that she was experiencing at the time, she recalls knowing that something was wrong when she found herself horrified by glimpses of her body in the mirror.

“I just realized that I was not seeing reality. And that scared me,” says Osmond. “But I did continue, you know, to not eat and fast for days and then eat a big meal. Once you do that to yourself, you are on a yo-yo the rest of your life. You screw up your metabolism.”

Osmond spent decades feeling dissatisfied with her body and taking different measures to change it. “I’ve done every diet,” she says. “Name it and I’ve done it, I swear to you.”

Despite what she looked like throughout that on-again off-again dieting, which led to different seasons of weight loss and weight gain, Osmond knew that it wasn’t a sustainable or healthy journey. In 2007, she tried Nutrisystem as a “last-ditch effort” to achieve what to her felt like a healthy body. As the brand’s spokesperson, she says that the most important thing it’s given her is a consistent relationship with food.

“Food was no longer my enemy. I didn’t have to overthink it. I didn’t have to weigh it or measure it or shop it. I never felt deprived,” she says.

Osmond believes the program also helped her to manage her body's further changes upon turning 50 and experiencing menopause. She even helped create Nutrisystem's Complete 50, a specialized plan for women over that age. “I really believe your body goes crazy at 50,” says the former talk show host. “It’s like all of a sudden, you’re this alien. And you go, what is this hormonal crap happening?”

Although she’s crossed and conquered that threshold, it’s only just recently that Osmond has been able to reflect on all of the harm that she's done to her body in the past.

“I have made peace with how mean I’ve been to [my body] through the years, especially being a younger girl,” she says. “It’s really important to make peace, just from a psychological standpoint, and to apologize for all the abuse. You know, there was a time where I literally wept for how I treated me, and just thought what a horrible thing I did to myself.”

With age, life experience and the perspective she’s gained as a mother and grandmother, Osmond’s mindset when it comes to body image is entirely different than it had been in her youth. It’s no longer reliant on what her body looks like.

“The best body image that you can put out there for anybody is, how active do you want to be? Not how you should be. But what do you want? I want to be able to do everything,” she says. “If I could go back, I would have saved so many years of stressing.”

Meanwhile, she’s taking advantage of where she is today, healthier and happier than ever.

“I’ve been doing these bucket list items that are insane. I’ve been jumping out of airplanes with my daughters, and I’ve been ziplining over waterfalls and just doing all [this] nutty fun stuff,” she says, pointing out that it’s quite a change of pace from performing five days a week for 11 years during her Las Vegas residency with her brother Donny Osmond that ended in 2019. “I’ve seen places and I’ve traveled all over the world and things like that. But to really have the time to do things like that, I’m really enjoying it.”