As Politico reporter Mike Allen noted at the beginning of the Playbook Cocktails event he was hosting Thursday evening, it was serendipitous that the release of "Morning Joe" host Mika Brzezinski's book "Obsessed" — about America's and her own issues with weight, food and body image — coincided with another headlining-making weight loss revelation. Tuesday The New York Post reported New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had undergone lap-band stomach surgery in February, in an aggressive measure to trim down his estimated 350 pound figure.
"I just don't believe it's anybody's business except mine and my family's." Christie said over the phone with Brzezinski at the event, when she asked him why he had kept the surgery a secret for so long. (Judging by the way she had been clinging to her iPhone throughout the talk, the call was probably not coincidental.)
"I was never going to lie about it. But certainly it wasn't offered up because I think it's just between me and my wife and my kids and my doctor," he said.
Yet, by the way Brzezinski described it her book and in an excerpt posted on MSNBC.com, her weight struggles — and her decision to confront them — involved a whole lot more than just her family and doctor.
"It starts when you're very young, and I just documented in this book times in my life when I had success and when I got adulation or I got compliments, and it was when I was really skinny, uncomfortably skinny, exhaustingly skinny, starvingly skinny," Brzezinski said. "Obsessed" recounts her drastic efforts to stay 118 pounds and her decision to allow herself to gain some weight, even if it meant going up two dress sizes.
At the event, her "Morning Joe" cohost Joe Scarborough suggested that Brzezinski had been asked by television execs to lose 10 or 15 pounds earlier in her career. He also noted her obsession with weight and fitness (she is also an avid runner) was also a part of the "act" on "Morning Joe" (perhaps best illustrated in this 2011 promo, which some called sexist). Brzezinski describes it in her book: "he played the undisciplined food slob and I filled the role of the hyperdisciplined health nut." While obviously an intensely personal issue, how Brzezinski views her body is also a part of her public television persona, one that she is now deconstructing on an equally public stage in her new book.
To compare Christie's and Brzezinski's recent revelations may be apples to oranges. She had seemingly the perfect figure, yet was torturing herself to keep it. (It's worth noting that even 15 pounds heavier she still looks fabulous). He was obese, and says his decision was motivated by being healthy for his children. She chose to gain weight. He decided to lose it.
But what motivated Brzezinski to reexamine was a friend who had more in common with Christie than herself, fellow newswomen Diane Smith who also cowrote the book. Brzezinski decided to confront her friend about the weight she had gained over the course of her career.
"I also told Diane what she already knew: that her obesity had stopped her ascent to the top of the media world," Brzezinski writes. The two made a deal, Smith would lose weight if Brzezinski would gain some.
Many have speculated that Christie's decision to undergo the surgery may also have to do with a possible 2016 presidential run. Yet so far he has resisted giving into such reasoning. Yet for Brzezinski her struggles with weight were imbued with her public, professional persona. Not surprisingly, her decision to confront them is equally public.