Megyn Kelly on Friday walked back Thursday comments that featured a joke that made the “Megyn Kelly Today” host sound like she condoned fat-shaming.
On Thursday’s show, Kelly featured guest Maria Kang, a controversial mom blogger who was dubbed “Fit Mom” in 2013 after she shared a social media photo of her extremely fit-looking self alongside her three young sons.
The photo — captioned “What’s your excuse?” — drew the ire of many social media users who accused Kang of fat-shaming women and moms at large.
During the segment, Kelly told Kang that while studying at Albany Law School in the 1990s, she specifically asked her stepfather, Peter Kirwan, to mock her weight anytime she felt compelled to eat.
“Some of us want to be shamed!” Kelly explained. “When I was in law school, I was gaining weight, I said to my stepfather, ‘If you see me going into that kitchen one more time, you say, ‘Where you going, fat a**?’”
“It works!” she laughed, as some of those in the audience exchanged shocked looks.
Megyn Kelly Comes Out As Pro-Fat Shaming: “Some Of Us Want To Be Shamed” pic.twitter.com/qOgSCJxuYK
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) January 11, 2018
On Friday, the NBC talk-show host addressed her controversial comments head-on.
“Close to 40 percent of Americans are obese,” Kelly began. “They need support, they need kindness, and one thing they definitely do not need is to be body-shamed.”
“I said something yesterday on the show that clearly struck a nerve, and I think it’s a conversation we need to have openly,” she continued. “We were discussing body-shaming others, something I absolutely do not support. In fact, quite the opposite.”
Kelly went on to detail her own experience with body-shaming, and admitted that she and her entire family have struggled with their weight over the years.
“My entire family is or has been overweight, or obese,” Kelly admitted. “My Nana, my mom, my sister, and my brother. I spoke to my sister yesterday and she gave me permission to share that she was, at one point, over 300 pounds and ultimately chose to have gastric bypass surgery.”
Kelly told her own story, and revealed that she was “chubby” by the time she got to middle school, and detailed her own experience with “some vicious bullies” who called her fat and mocked the shape of her body.
“Those comments can cut deep, trust me, I know,” she said.
Kelly went on to admit that she struggled with body image, and found herself eating just 500 calories a day to remain thin.
“Soon there were diet pills and obsessive exercise, and I had reduced my calorie intake to 500 calories a day,” Kelly revealed. “My heart was racing all day, my hair and skin were dry — but I was thin. And so unhappy. I was scared of gaining weight because of the insane standard this country holds its women to and because I was and remain afraid of dying in my 40s.”
Kelly said that even in her 40s, she still has to work to maintain a positive body image.
“As an adult, I’ve gotten healthier in my approach to eating, but I, like every woman I know, still wrestle with body image, and still cringe when I hear a person attacked for his or her weight,” she admitted.
Kelly concluded the segment by imploring her viewers to believe that she would never encourage that kind of behavior toward another human being.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about why I once encouraged it toward myself,” she said. “What I know for sure is that weight is an issue for millions of people, thin and heavy alike. And neither deserves to be judged or shamed for how they choose to handle that struggle.”