Obese Families in Crisis: The Intervention | The Oprah Winfrey Show | Oprah Winfrey Network
OPRAH WINFREY, HOST: Today, all-new… YVONNE: Go and take a breath. You ready? WINFREY: A groundbreaking intervention — their weight is out of control. Sixteen teenagers confront it all. NICK: No. WINFREY: The anger … CHRISTIAN: You think that this is your fault. WINFREY: The pain … JESSICA: I just let myself down. JILLIAN: I hate my life. WINFREY: Their parents … MALE, TEEN: I’m angry that my dad divorced you. WINFREY: And themselves. STEPHANIE: I’d rather be dead than be overweight. WINFREY: What are you hungry for? Everything is on the table, next. WINFREY: The number one health concern of America’s children is not smoking. It is not drug abuse. It is being fat. This could be the first generation of children to not outlive their parents. That’s how bad it is. Think about that. Take a look at what is feeding this crisis. JESSICA: My name’s Jessica. I am 14 and I weigh 200 pounds. I gained like 30, 40 pounds just over last year. I’m just — I’m upset about my weight and I want to do something about it. And I’m sad that I can’t accept myself the way I am. RAVEN: My body is — basically consists of fat. It makes me feel, like, horrible. It’s like, how could I let myself be like this? I’ve gotten teased over the years and it, like, hurts, because they don’t know what’s going on. My mom had brain surgery in December a week before my birthday and it’s kind of, like, stressful, because I have to take more responsibilities now. I have to do more things now. CHRISTIAN: I see girls who are thinner than me and it’s really hard, because they have boyfriends and they’re popular. Why can’t I be like them? Why can’t I have a boyfriend like they can? Why can’t somebody see my inner beauty and not pay attention to my outside? NICK: Three-hundred-eighty-five pounds. Just hard to tell anybody my weight. I hate being different. I hate being bigger than everybody else. I just want to be able to do regular things. When my dad looks at me, I know he just gets depressed, because I’m overweight. I know he feels that it’s his fault. JILLIAN: I can’t remember a time not being overweight ever. So, it’s just something that has been a part of me forever. I definitely want to get gastric bypass more than anything. It’s a risky surgery, but there’s a chance that I’m going die from being overweight, too. STEPHANIE: School, basically, is pretty much hell. I mean, a lot of kids make fun of me. I’m used to it by now, but it still hurts. No matter how used to it you are, it always hurts. It’s my senior year and I won’t go to dances, because of my weight and my size. It’s just embarrassing. I’ll eat, because it makes me feel not so alone. JOSH, 18: My weight’s just horrible. I mean, I could weigh 600 pounds. I just can’t get weighed, because the scale only goes up to 350 pounds. I’ve been through abuse. I’ve been through drugs addictions, alcoholism. It’s nothing that a child needs to be raised in. I think it’s mostly my dad. That’s the reason why I eat so much. Why he’s disappointed in me, because I didn’t turn out like he wanted me to. I do feel lonely, because my mom wasn’t there, because she was in a state penitentiary. I was a lonely kid, my dad wasn’t there. So I had nobody to go to. So I went to the one thing that I could. It was food. I don’t want to die. WINFREY: Well, these 16 brave, young people you see right here have all agreed to step forward and expose the most painful parts of their lives, many for the first time. Certainly not an easy thing to do if you’re an adult who has been struggling with your weight, as I have, you know, for all of my adult life. You know the frustrations that you feel. Multiply that times whatever number you choose and you can imagine what it is like being a teenager in today’s society and being overweight. So we wanted to challenge them to take part in a grueling, eight-hour intervention where they confront the reasons why they’re overweight. As you hear from them, you’ll understand how they got here. It goes way beyond junk food. As we were looking at the tape and hearing all of your confessions about how food makes you feel, was this the first time you ever, like, dealt with that, Josh? JOSH: I use food to treat everything. If I’m feeling sad, I’ll eat. If I feel happy, I’ll eat. Food … WINFREY: If you don’t if you’re sad or happy, you’ll eat. JOSH: Yeah, if I’m just in between, I’ll eat. And I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m 18 years old and food’s my best friend in the world right now. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Do you all feel that way? Do you feel that way, Nick? NICK: Yeah. WINFREY: Yeah. NICK: It’s like I — I don’t know, it’s just when I’m depressed, I eat and when I’m sad, I eat. It’s like I have no one else to go to but food. WINFREY: Yeah. Yeah, food is your comfort. Food is your love. Do you worry about what people say behind your back? You’re shaking your head. Your name? Hi. TREY, 12: Trey. WINFREY: Hi, Trey. TREY: I get along with everybody at my school and I feel that there are just some kids that just can’t accept me for the way I am. I think that’s very rude of them. They need to get to know me better, because most of the people that make fun of me just have not hung out with me or did any extra activities with me. WINFREY: Do they make fun of you to your face? TREY: Yes. I mean, I stand in the doorway and they’re like, “No one can through, Trey. Get out of the way,” or something like that. WINFREY: Have you let them know or do you put on a front to pretend like it doesn’t hurt you? TREY: Well, there was this one incident where somebody did that and I started crying, because it just really makes me mad that someone just — someone would do that and, I mean, usually I just kind of brush it off my shoulder, but then there are times when they do it, it just tears me apart. WINFREY: Tears you apart. TREY: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: Yeah. Here’s a little more insight from some of our teens. Take a look. JILLIAN: Being overweight is just — you’re always thinking what are people thinking about you. You go to eat something out in public and you’re thinking, “Oh, I shouldn’t be doing this. Someone’s going to be judging me.” And it’s just — you’re constantly thinking you’re just not as good as anyone else. There are days when I won’t eat anything, because I just feel like I don’t deserve to eat anything. NICK: When I’m eating, all my thoughts block out. It’s like I don’t think of anything else, but the next bite. STEPHANIE: When I’m really stressed out and I’m crying and just completely frustrated with everything, when I eat, it, makes me feel calmer and it’s like a never-ending cycle of emotions and food and comfort. TREY: I know it’s wrong, but I just don’t care because I’m in the moment and when I get home, I’ll feel like, “Oh, god, I shouldn’t have eaten that extra taco,” or something like that. And, I mean, it feels bad afterwards, but when you’re eating it, it just feels great. JOSH: Food’s always been there for me. It’s never let me down. I just don’t want to rely on something that’s probably killing me. WINFREY: We’ll be right back. WINFREY: Coming up, the challenge begins. Our teens face their weight and their parents head on. CHRISTIAN: I’m angry, because you think that this is your fault. WINFREY: A groundbreaking experiment, next. WINFREY: We gathered 16 teenagers from across the country who are all in tremendous pain. Their weight is out of control. It is destroying their lives and their parents are scared to death. Desperate for help, they all came to Harpo Studios with their families for a groundbreaking workshop led by husband- and-wife counselors Rich and Yvonne Dutra St. John. YVONNE: Hello. Welcome, come on in. Have a seat anywhere. JOSH: I’m scared, too. JESSICA: So nervous. WINFREY: Over the next eight hours, these fragile teens will confront their weight… NICK: No. WINFREY: …And their parents… CHRISTIAN: You think that this is your fault. WINFREY: …For the first time in their lives. MALE, TEEN: I’m angry. YVONNE: Today, what we are intentionally doing is inviting a conversation around food, around weight, about the emotions behind the weight, because it’s not about our weight. It’s what is the hunger for? What are we hungry for? Let’s keep our minds open, our hearts open, and I guarantee you if we do that, we can expect miracles in this room today. WINFREY: So, we met Rich and Yvonne a couple of years ago when they brought their High School Challenge Day to our show. It was such a powerful tool for change that we wanted to bring them back to work with these overweight teens who are in crisis and your goal was … ? RICH DUTRA ST. JOHN: Our goal in this activity — it’s always about bringing people together, but here it was to make a safe place for all these young people to be able to tell the truth about what’s going on for them in their life and what’s behind the eating. WINFREY: Yeah. And for most you, had you not confronted what was behind the eating? Did you think it was just about food? Yeah, you did? Nick, you thought it was just about food? NICK: Yeah, that whole experience just opened up a lot of feelings I never thought I had inside. It’s like, I would never — if, on a normal day, I would never have told anybody any of those feelings that I expressed. Like, I just always thought, “I was overweight. Oh well, I’m always going to be overweight. It’s no big deal.” It’s like, ever since that experience, I just like — it’s gotten so much off my chest, it just feels good. WINFREY: Yeah, Rich and Yvonne wanted to help these teenagers and their families feel more comfortable. So they split everybody into two groups, our teens on one side, the parents and siblings on the other side. The goal was to show both sides that they’re not alone in this battle. Take a look. YVONNE: Teens, please stand, if, on a regular basis, you’re laughed at, teased, or physically assaulted because of your weight or your body size, notice how you feel. Turn to your left and right, look in the eyes of the other teenagers. HAVEN, 13: My brother makes fun of me. He calls me Barney. He calls me chubs. He calls me a fatty. YVONNE: Who else knows what it feels like? JILLIAN: Some people post things on MySpace about all the overweight people in our school and how gross they are and that they shouldn’t even, like — if you’re overweight you should die. And it’s just really hard. YVONNE: Teens, please stand if you regularly eat, because you are lonely, sad, angry, stressed, bored, or because you want to numb out or change how you’re feeling. There’s feelings there, just let them out. JOSH: I can’t tell you what’ll make me eat two to three more plates of food. It just happens. I’m just waiting for that calm feeling to come and if it don’t come with the first plate, then you eat a second one. If it doesn’t come with the second one, you eat another one and just keep going on. YVONNE: Teens, please stand if you’ve ever felt ashamed or embarrassed about the way that you looked. JESSICA: It’s rare that I don’t go in my room to cry at night. It’s usually when I start trying to get my clothes ready for school in the morning. And the stuff will fit, but it’s putting it on and knowing what size it is. RICH: Family members, please stand if, because of their weight, you’ve ever been afraid of the health, life, or future of your loved one. STEPHANIE: For the past two years, I’ve had type II diabetes. The doctor says it’s, because of the fact I’ve gained so much weight over a short period of time. YVONNE: Teens, please stand if you’ve ever seriously considered or attempted suicide. Everybody breathe. WINFREY: And so that’s pretty chilling. How many of you said that you had considered suicide? Because of your weight? STEPHANIE: Basically, because of my weight and then losing my dad and then all the stress of both my grandmas being sick and the stress from getting bullied all the time and, basically, everything about being overweight. WINFREY: Were you surprised at how many teenagers stood up? YVONNE: No. Not a bit. WINFREY: Not a bit. YVONNE: Yeah, I expected it. I was overweight as a teenager, too. I lived most of my time, all the way through elementary and junior high school, being teased all the time and I was suicidal, felt depressed all the time. So that wasn’t a surprise. I mean, for me, what I wanted them to be able to do is to see that they’re not alone. This show was so exciting for me. I needed a show like this. I needed a place to get together, to be able to be heard, to find out what was going on inside of me instead of thinking I was the only one that was dealing with what I was dealing with. WINFREY: And so the goal isn’t the cure. Obviously, that everybody doesn’t come out of there and suddenly … YVONNE: No, no. WINFREY: Oh, hail Mary … YVONNE: No, no. WINFREY: Yes. YVONNE: It’s an opportunity to be able to wake up and for us one of the biggest goals is to give them tools to help them get the feelings out instead of trying to numb them out through food. I mean, we all numb out in different ways, and so this is just one way that a lot of them chose. But, you know, people do alcohol and drugs, and so to give them the opportunity to deal with the feelings and not just go be by themselves with them. WINFREY: So think about this. What if you had to face your family and finish this sentence “if you really knew me, you’d know that — ” fill in the blank. You may think you know somebody until they answer that question. See how brutally honest these families get when we come back. WINFREY: The number one health concern facing our children is obesity. The truth is, for many, the fat goes way beyond eating poorly and a lack of exercise. We gathered 16 overweight teens from across the country to experience a groundbreaking workshop run by husband-and-wife counseling team Richard and Yvonne Dutra St. John. Their goal in this eight-hour intervention: to get these teens to open up about what’s really underneath all the fat. One powerful exercise started with answering the question “If you really knew me.” RICH: What is it you deal with on a daily basis? How is it to live in your family, go to your school? If you really knew me, you’d know this about me. JILLIAN: If you really knew me, you’d know that I hate myself and everything about me. If you really knew, you’d know that when I come home from school, I go to my room and I go to sleep, because I’d rather be sleeping than awake, because I hate my life and everything about me. NANCY, JILLIAN’S MOTHER: If you really knew me, you’d know how much it breaks my heart when my girls go to school and they come home and they don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. They just want to go to their rooms. I try to the hide the pain that they’re having, just by giving them more and more and more, trying to make them happy. JULIE, RAVEN’S MOTHER: If you really knew me, you’d know I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and I know that has to be a burden on these kids. They wake up every day not knowing if they’re going to have their mom. And I just want to stop fighting and start loving my family. RAVEN: If you really knew me — I’ve had to grow up a lot over the past year, with my mom being sick, and that’s kind of like a touchy subject for me to talk about, because it’s kind of hard. Because you wake up every day and you worry and think, “Oh, my god, is she going to be all right today? Is she going to have a seizure today?” And it’s kind of hard having to be strong and try to help out and take on more responsibility and try to do all these things. NICK: If you really knew me, you’d know I was 16 years old. I’ve been overweight ever since I was a little, ever since I could remember. I had an asthma attack on the court playing basketball in a tournament and after that, my basketball coach cut me, because I was a health risk. Since I got cut, I didn’t have anything to fill that gap of time that I had on my hands, so I just kind of sat around and ate all day. JAMES, NICK’S FATHER: If you really knew me, you’d know that it really hurts me to see him struggle. It makes me feel like I’m a failure. Being a single dad and stuff, you know, you try to balance work and you try to be there for your kids. It’s been more about being — it’s been more about being at work, trying to make ends meet, than being there for him. It should’ve never got to this point. WINFREY: So, James, you say taking part in this was one of the highlights of your life. Why? JAMES: It’s been probably one of the most powerful things I’ve ever been associated with in my life. WINFREY: What I learned — not being a parent, but listening to parents and kids all these years — is that what your kids want is you. JAMES: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: What your kids want is you. JAMES: What your kids need are you. WINFREY: Yeah. And you know, what they also want is you. What they also want is you. JAMES: Yeah. WINFREY: Yeah. Is that what you got? JAMES: I feel like this whole process that we went through brought my son and I closer together — I mean, more than ever — than we have been in the past. We’ve always been — kind of went with — I tell my son I love him every day, but it’s showing him and being there for him is what really counts. WINFREY: So that he can feel that. JAMES: So he can feel it. Yes. WINFREY: So he can feel that. What they really want is time with their parents. They want to be seen and heard and felt by their parents. And all this, you know, striving to give them more, give them more, give them more, give them more, in the end gets lost. YVONNE: Yeah. Whether we start on the breast or the bottle, food means mom, it means love, it means nurturing. And so when people are eating a lot, they’re looking for love, they’re looking for … WINFREY: Yeah, it means mom and dad. YVONNE: Yeah, and dad. Parents. It’s the nurturing part. It’s love. WINFREY: Yeah. Yeah, and so that was the whole point of this whole exercise, was to be able to begin to articulate what are you hungry for. What are you hungry for? Are you all now better able to answer that question? GROUP, TEENS: Yes. WINFREY: Yeah, yeah. And what is the answer, Christian? CHRISTIAN: I am more hungry for a father. That’s where — through this whole process, this is what I’ve learned about myself, that I’m hungry for a male figure, a stable male figure. WINFREY: What are you hungry for, Josh? JOSH: Just acceptance, knowing that I’ve done a good job over something. WINFREY: So validation? JOSH: Validation, yeah. WINFREY: Yeah. Yeah. To be seen. You know, I would have to say that over the years — you all who have watched the show and heard me say this before — it is the common denominator in the human experience. Out of the thousands and thousands of interviews that I’ve had, and it doesn’t matter who I’m talking to, everybody is looking for the same thing. And you will see this in your relationships, whether it’s with your children or with your boss or with anybody that you’re in a relationship with. What everybody wants is to know, “Do you see me?” RICH: That’s the power of that whole “If You Really Knew Me” activity, because they get to look inside and connect heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul, and they get to know who people really are for real. WINFREY: Right. Do you see me, do you hear me, and does what I say matter? Does it mean anything to you that I am here? Your children want to be seen. We’ll be right back. WINFREY: Earlier, Josh told us he feels like a disappointment to his father. See what happens when he tells his dad that. WINFREY: So today we’ve been watching teenagers who are overweight challenge themselves and confront their families about what’s behind their emotional eating. One of the things Rick and Yvonne wanted them to do — Rich and Yvonne wanted them to find out was “What are you really hungry for?” Watch what happens when Josh, who thinks he weighs about 600 pounds, opens up to his parents for the first time. ANN, JOSH’S MOTHER: If you really knew me you’d know that my biggest fear is that my children will follow my path of my drug addiction. That if you really knew me, you would know that I’d do anything for my children to help give them a better life. YVONNE: Start wrapping it up. ANN: And one of the things I really want the most is for all my children just to be happy. ANDY, JOSH’S FATHER: Well, if you really knew me, you’d know that, I’m sort of rough on my kids. I’m sort of a perfectionist. I want stuff done a certain way, and I expect it be done a certain way. That’s why I’m hard on them. I’m sure they hate me most of the time, but … JOSH: If you really knew me, you’d know, as a kid, I’ve gotten my fair share of beatings from both my parents. My dad does have these high standards and if we can’t reach them, he’s disappointed with us and he gets angry. And so I try to do better by it, but it just doesn’t seem like it’s working. And so when I’m saddened, I’ll eat and I think I’ve been sad most of my life, because I’ve been big most of my life. WINFREY: Was that hard for you to admit? JOSH: It was, because I don’t talk about my feelings with my parents and, having my dad sitting right next to me and saying the things I have said, it’s hard, because I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if he’s going to be angry with me or not. WINFREY: What happened after you went home after that? JOSH: Things got a little better. You know … WINFREY: How so? JOSH: There hasn’t been a whole lot of yelling. I mean, but there’s still that – – the same way everything’s still the same. WINFREY: What, there’s a sense of tension? JOSH: Yeah. Like, I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just — it’s kind of weird. WINFREY: Yeah, Andy, maybe you can explain it. Andy is Josh’s father. So what was your reaction to hearing your son say that in front of everybody? ANDY: Well, you know, it really opened up my eyes to, you know, a lot of things with this class and everything and with Josh. I mean, I think after this class and, you know, our relationship was getting better and it’s improving more. Because I understand what he’s going through now. WINFREY: When you say you have such high standards for your kids and on the tape you said “I have such high standards and that they probably hate me,” as you watched your son implode on himself, you know, get bigger and bigger and bigger, what were you thinking or feeling about that? Did you ever have a conversation about “what’s going on?” or “how can I help you?” ANDY: No, I don’t think we ever had that kind of conversation. WINFREY: What did you think was going on? ANDY: I didn’t know what to do. You know, I just didn’t know what to do. WINFREY: So you did nothing, basically. ANDY: Exactly. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Did this exercise help you to connect to some of what he’s been feeling? ANDY: Yes, it did. WINFREY: It did. And how does that make you feel? ANDY: Well, like I was saying, it gave me a better understanding of what he’s feeling and everything and, you know, we’re trying to get the help and so on. WINFREY: Okay. But what did you feel when you heard your son talk about his feelings? What did you feel? ANDY: Actually, I felt, you know, depressed, to tell you the truth. You know, if I can trade places with him, I would. I definitely would just so he could have a life and do things like I did when I was growing up. WINFREY: We’ll be right back. WINFREY: Coming up, the volume goes up and the walls come down. What is your teen angry about? STEPHANIE: I’m angry that I’d rather be dead than be overweight. WINFREY: Yvonne and Rich were saying to me they spent a whole part of the day getting into the anger, and I said, “There’s a lot of anger,” and you’d say, “Little bit.” YVONNE: Yeah. RICH: Yeah, little bit. WINFREY: Little bit of anger there. Okay. Broken families, sick parents, checked-out moms and dads, some struggling with their own weight issues — it’s no wonder that childhood obesity is an epidemic in our country. Along with all of this stuff comes a lot of anger. YVONNE: A lot of anger. WINFREY: Well, Rich and Yvonne have a great method for getting all teens to expose what they’re truly angry about. What is that? YVONNE: Well, you know, and this is not just teens. We teach it to everybody. And anger, if it’s not expressed, it goes inside the body and we start to eat it or try to numb it out, and so one of the things — just to give you an example. We are parents, four kids, and one of our daughters, a teenager, came home. In a week, she was just really upset. She was leaking all over, raging around the house. I just said, “Come in the other room with me,” into a quiet room, away from the family, and I just said to her, “I want you to tell me — like, what is this anger about?” And so we just stood in front of each other, and I just said to her, “As loud as you can, just look me in the eyes and say ‘I’m angry that — ‘” and so she looked at me and she said, “I’m angry at you because you’re always gone.” Okay, we’re going to start right here with me. And then you know my first reaction was defend, which I think is what most of us do in our families, is we want to defend, say “I didn’t do that.” I want to say, you know, “Every time I’m home you’re with your friends,” but I realized, you know, she just needs to have her feelings. So I said to her, and these are the two most powerful words I think we can ever say. I just said, “What else?” YVONNE: And then she looked at me and she started crying and she says, “I hate I get teased every day for being short. I hate I’m in special classes. I’m the stupid kid in the school.” And then I wanted to fix it, right? I thought of every genius throughout history who’s had a form of dyslexia, and I thought, “Don’t fix her, Yvonne. She needs you just to listen.” So I looked at her, I said, “Sweetie, what else?” YVONNE: And she said, “And I’m fat and I don’t fit into any of my clothes, and I have hand-me-down clothes, and all the other kids have new clothes.” And all my parents’ versions of “You think you have it bad?” went through my head. “No, don’t say that. Just be there with her.” And then every parent’s nightmare. She looked at me with tears running down her cheeks and she said, “I hate my life. I want to die. I want to kill myself!” And I remember my heart started pounding. I was, like — and then I remembered when I was a kid and when I wanted to die, I didn’t want to be dead. I just wanted the pain to stop. So I looked at her, and I said, “I’m right here with you, baby. What else?” And she just cried and she screamed, she cried and screamed. Felt like hours. Probably 10 minutes. And then she went, “Aughhh!” And then she went like this. Hmm. [sighs] “What’s for dinner, mom?” [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: How old is she? YVONNE: This was a teenager. WINFREY: Yeah. YVONNE: But the point, I think, is if we can be there with our loved ones, there’s no better way to say “I love you” than just be there. WINFREY: So let’s watch what happens when Yvonne and Rich did this with our group. YVONNE: So I’m going to see if I get a few volunteers from the group. Jillian, I heard you, baby. I overheard you talking in your group. Would you be willing to jump in here with me? Yeah, come on up here. Give her a round of applause for stepping in here. And all you’re going to do, sweetheart, is you’re just going to match me, okay? I’m going to just say to you, “I’m angry that — ” and I want you to look me right in the eyes and as loud as you want, you just say, “I’m angry that — ” and finish that sentence, okay? You cannot do this wrong, okay? “I’m angry that — ” JILLIAN: I’m angry that I can never be as good as my sister. YVONNE: Now I want you to move your arms. You just let it go. It’s kind of like a volcano. Okay, “I’m angry that — ” JILLIAN: I’m angry that I disappoint my dad. YVONNE: “I’m angry that — ” JILLIAN: I’m angry that I had to have my dad’s cousin make my prom dress. I’m angry that I had to ask someone to prom. YVONNE: Keep going. You’re doing great, babe. You’re doing great. JILLIAN: I’m angry that my mom blames herself for me being overweight. I’m angry … YVONNE: There you go, keep going. JILLIAN: That when I see pictures of myself, I just want to rip them up. I’m angry. I’m just angry. YVONNE: Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Mama, you want to practice holding space for your daughter? Okay. Now this is just mama practicing holding this kind of space for you, okay? So, mama, you just let this be like it’s rain and it’s not going to get stuck in you, okay? You know what to do, baby. “I’m angry that — ” tell her. CHRISTIAN: I’m angry that you’re my best friend, my only best friend. I don’t have any best friends. You’re my best friend. I’m angry — oh. YVONNE: Yeah, right there. Shake it off. You know. CHRISTIAN: Oh. YVONNE: Make whatever sounds you need to make. CHRISTIAN: I’m angry, because you think this is your fault. This is not your fault. YVONNE: Keep going. CHRISTIAN: I’m angry, because it kills your heart that I don’t have a father, but it’s not your fault. YVONNE: Mm-hmm. Look at mama’s eyes. Is there a hug in there? Gently, gently. Okay, now remember — you’re not taking care of mom. She’s being a mom by loving you, by just holding space. Remember, you’re not taking it in, okay? MALE, TEEN: I’m angry that my dad divorced you. I’m angry he got remarried. I’m angry my dad left on my birthday. YVONNE: Say that one again. MALE, TEEN: I’m angry my dad left on my birthday. YVONNE: Again. Say that again. MALE, TEEN: I’m angry that my dad left on my birthday. YVONNE: Right there, baby. MALE, TEEN: I’m angry he calls me to threaten to kill myself. I’m angry I put a knife to my throat. YVONNE: Look at her eyes. Say, “Mom, I’m really angry.” MALE, TEEN: I’m angry. I’m angry. MOTHER: Mm-hmm. RICH: There you go, breathe. YVONNE: Come over here, babe. Okay, you ready? “I’m angry that — ” JESSICA: I’m angry that people make fun of me when they don’t know who I really am inside. YVONNE: Keep going. JESSICA: I’m angry that it’s not just students picking on me at school, it’s teachers. I’m angry that I try so hard to lose my weight and I just let myself down. I’m angry that I make fun of myself. YVONNE: Just hold her. Just hold her. Look mama in the eyes. She’s going to be right there with you. Okay, you ready? “I’m angry that — ” FEMALE, TEEN: I’m angry that everybody teases me at school. I’m angry that we’re an embarrassment to the family. I’m angry that when we go into stores I always cry in fitting rooms, because nothing fits me and it’s sickening. FEMALE, TEEN: I’m angry that I think about suicide. I’m angry that — I’m just ashamed. I’m angry that I’m probably a disappointment to you guys. I’m angry that — I’m just really angry. YVONNE: Yeah. Say that again, honey. FEMALE, TEEN: I’m just really angry. YVONNE: Yeah. Now look at mama’s eyes. FEMALE, TEEN: I’m angry, Mom. YVONNE: You know how to do this. Come out here with me. Yeah. STEPHANIE: I’m angry that the last thing I said to my dad was, “I hate you.” YVONNE: Keep going. STEPHANIE: I’m angry that I blame myself that he died. I’m angry that my mom got remarried to a guy who doesn’t like me. I’m angry that I get made fun of at school and get called a hippo. I’m angry that I’d rather be dead than be overweight. WINFREY: We’ll be right back. JILLIAN: I’m angry… YVONNE: There you go, keep going. JILLIAN: …that when I see pictures of myself, I just want to rip them up. CHRISTIAN: I’m angry, because it kills your heart that I don’t have a father. STEPHANIE: I’m angry that I’d rather be dead than be overweight. WINFREY: Okay. Well, that is taking the cork off. Anybody want to talk about what that experience of letting that anger out for the first time in that way was like? Yes. JILLIAN: Just — that was probably the turning point of my life, because it is so much easier to just keep that all in and put a smile on and say that nothing bothers you when really, it’s killing you on the inside. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Killing you on the inside. RICH: Did a great job, too. WINFREY: Did a great job. YVONNE: And it literally can. I mean, the anger in our bodies — a lot of us are dying. That’s turning into disease and that is literally killing us. WINFREY: What is so interesting and I think this is for all of you parents who are watching who, you know, have been through divorce and remarried and, you know, see your kids act out, and as we all now know, the feelings have to go somewhere, is what you were saying. YVONNE: Yes, yes. WINFREY: And for these kids, they eat their feelings. And for other kids, they do drugs. And for other kids, they don’t do their homework or they’re sullen or they’re… RICH: Or get mean … WINFREY: Sleeping around or mean or acting out all the time, and what is so interesting, and I’m sure for a lot of you parents here listening, too, is how many kids still blame themselves for what happened with their parents. YVONNE: Yes. WINFREY: Yeah. YVONNE: Or take care of the parents. WINFREY: Yeah, or trying to take care of their parents. YVONNE: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: Okay. What was that like? Jillian’s parents, hello? NANCY: Oh, it was so intense and, like, it just broke my heart. I mean, I knew she’s always had a weight problem, you know, ever since she was a little baby. And I always tried to make it better for her or ignore it or whatever, but to hear those things that came out of her, I’d never realized just how horrible she was feeling and how much she hated herself, because she keeps it all in all the time. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. NANCY: And it just broke my heart. WINFREY: Matthew? MATTHEW, JILLIAN’S FATHER: The same thing. It’s gotten a lot better since we’ve gone through this intervention. Jillian and I talk a little bit more. I’m the one in the family that hides their feelings the most. WINFREY: You eat your feelings, too? MATTHEW: Yes. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. MATTHEW: And Jillian gets frustrated with me, because I do that. Sometimes she wants to talk and it’s hard for me to open up like that all the time. And I’ve learned that it’s better to do that. WINFREY: We’ll be right back. WINFREY: So, has anybody had a conversation in the house since this happened about healthier habits or healthier eating or changing the way the family operates? Particularly, because I’m wondering as an overweight parent, watching your daughter suffer, because of obesity also, do you feel some kind of — the word’s not guilt — but do you feel responsibility? NANCY: Oh, definitely. Definitely. We always blame ourselves, you know? We should have done this, we should have done that. WINFREY: Not blame. I’m not looking at blame. I’m looking for, “Okay, let’s take charge, and what are we going to do as a family.” NANCY: Well, yeah. I mean, we sat down — like, we’ve even done some of these activities at home that we learned, you know, about getting the feelings out and just keeping quiet and letting her express herself. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. James. JAMES: As a parent and stuff, I want to be able give my son the tools, and for myself included, to learn how to re-eat. We think that we’re eating healthy, but we need education between my son and I so my son knows exactly what he can eat and what he can’t eat. WINFREY: That is true, but I think one of the things that you shared with us earlier is that food is really a small part of this issue. JAMES: Right. WINFREY: Food is a small part, because everybody in this group uses food to replace their or to express their feelings. YVONNE: Yes. Or to numb them out. WINFREY: Or numb out their feelings. So food is, you know, learning how to eat healthily is a part of this, but it is not the biggest part of this. The biggest part of this is what are you really hungry for. RICH: Mm-hmm. YVONNE: Yes. Yes. WINFREY: And you say a lot of parents don’t realize it’s okay to say, “I’m sorry,” to their child. YVONNE: Well, the bottom line is, you know, all parents, we do the best we can as parents, but the truth is most of us had more training on how to drive a car than how to be parents. We weren’t given an instruction manual. So the truth is we’re going to make mistakes. The biggest mistake we can make is not admitting we made a mistake. So to go to our kids and, like so many of you did during the challenge day, look our kids in the eyes and say, “You know what? I made a mistake. I’m sorry.” The best gift we can give our kids. And it frees ourselves. It frees us as parents. WINFREY: We’ll be right back. WINFREY: We said at the beginning of this show that we hope that all of you who are watching us today can better understand what it’s really like to be an overweight teen. They all know they need to lose weight. They know their health is at risk, and it’s up to them, with love and support, to make that happen. People like Josh, Nick, and Jillian, Stephanie, Christian — all overweight kids — need to know that they’re worth it, and it’s up to you and everyone in their lives to help them realize that. I hope this show has given you a little bit of insight. Thanks for watching. Bye, everybody.