Chrissy Metz doesn’t hold back, both on-screen or off — which is one reason why we love her so much.
In her new memoir titled This Is Me, Metz invites us into her past, including her tumultuous childhood that was wrought with poverty and abuse at the hands of her stepfather.
Metz’s father abandoned his wife, Denise, and three children including Metz when she was just 8 years old. Denise had another baby with a boyfriend, a man who also later abandoned the family. She then met and married Trigger, and they had a baby. Metz shared that Trigger was accepting of all of the children except her.
“My body seemed to offend him, but he couldn’t help but stare, especially when I was eating,” she shared in her book. “He joked about putting a lock on the refrigerator. We had lived with a lack of food for so long that when it was there, I felt like I had to eat it before it disappeared. Food was my only happiness.”
Trigger began beating Metz — and then, after she turned 14, began forcing her to weigh herself. He also didn’t stop at physical abuse. He used his words to assault her as well, belittling her for her weight gain. Metz writes in her memoir that she began hiding her eating in order to cope.
“I’d get up in the middle of the night and eat,” she shared. “I’d sneak food to eat in the bathroom. Cookies, chips. Things I could eat as fast as possible to avoid detection. Things that would give me the brief bliss of numbness.”
In the past, Metz has also opened up in the past about her family’s poverty during those years, telling Glamour last year that her family often struggled to stay afloat.
Yet despite the challenges growing up, Metz managed to leave her hometown of Homestead, Florida to pursue acting. She told Glamour that when she booked This Is Us, I had 81 cents in her bank account — and that it was her mother’s encouragement that kept her from leaving Los Angeles and giving up on her dream.
“I am so grateful that I had such an amazing support system,” said Metz. And thanks to her determination, we can now enjoy her as Kate on This Is Us.
Interestingly, Metz’s character on the show has an extraordinarily loving and accepting father, Jack. He compliments her constantly, lovingly refers to her as “Katie girl,” and even indulges her trips to the ice cream shop against her mother’s wishes. Jack is often accused by Rebecca for spoiling Kate, but Jack cannot help himself. His daughter is his whole world.
However, one similarity between Metz and her character is that Kate bravely and vulnerably faces her weight battle on the show. The opening scene of the pilot captivate us all as we watched Kate nervously step on a scale, perhaps a flashback to Metz’s real-life childhood. Throughout the two seasons (so far), we see Kate binge on fast food, go on diets, exercise, shop for clothing, and compare herself to her mother.
In the season two finale, Kate marries Toby, whom she met in her weight accountability support group — someone who also struggles with his size. When she and Toby have a miscarriage, Kate wonders if the loss is her fault, because of her weight. The cycle of shame, blame, determination, and rising is familiar to many of us.
All the while, Kate is encouraged by her father. Jack is infamous for giving his children pep talks, especially Kate, whom he always assures is beautiful and talented. Even after Jack’s death, Jack lives on for Kate. She prominently displays Jack’s urn on her mantle and even carries it with her to her wedding, talking to the urn as if Jack can hear her. Jack is Kate’s rock through every up and down, which is completely opposite of Metz’s relationship with her stepfather.
Though Metz’s childhood, both on- and off-screen, was challenging for different reasons, Metz’s attitude is incredibly positive and authentic.
“We all go through stuff,” she said. “But I truly believe that everything that happened to me, happened for me. [I’ve learned] some beautiful lessons.”
Metz’s resilience and ability to find the cloud with the silver lining is inspiring for women everywhere. I cannot wait to get my hands on her book, scheduled to release on March 27th, and discover more of Metz’s humor, grace, insight, and confidence.