Demi Lovato’s Sister Recalls Eating Disorder at Age 7
A former actress is getting real about the personal impact of one of her movies.
Ivy Snitzer acted as Gwyneth Paltrow‘s body double in the 2001 film Shallow Hal. In the movie, Jack Black‘s character Hal gets hypnotized to only see a person’s inner beauty, causing him to fall in love with Paltrow’s character, Rosemary, who without the hypnosis is overweight. Gwyneth donned a fat suit for her scenes, while then 20-year-old Snitzer was used for closeups of the character’s body. And while Snitzer said the actual filming the movie was an enjoyable experience, she recently got candid about her troubles after filming ended.
“It was just fun to be part of a movie, there are so few people who actually get to do that,” the 42-year-old told The Guardian in an Aug. 22 interview. “At that point, if you saw someone obese in a movie, they were a villain. [Rosemary] was cool, she was popular, she had friends.”
Snitzer, now the owner of an insurance agency, went on to describe how she committed herself to becoming what she called a “good fatty” in the wake of the movie. She explained, “I hated my body the way I was supposed to. I ate a lot of salads. I had eating disorders that I was very proud of.”
But while making the movie was fun, she admitted of its release, “It didn’t occur to me that the film would be seen by millions of people. It was like the worst parts about being fat were magnified. And no one was telling me I was funny.”
Then in 2003, she decided to undergo gastric band surgery in order to help lose weight. However, shortly after the procedure, the band slipped. She said the recovery process almost killed her, as she was only able to consume “sports drinks and watered-down nutritional shakes” for three months.
And though Snitzer initially denied a connection between the film’s reception and her surgery, she did say, “I’m sure I wanted to be small and not seen. I’m sure that’s there, but I don’t ever remember consciously thinking about it.”
Vince Bucci via Getty Images
In the decades following Shallow Hal‘s release, the film has received much criticism, with Paltrow herself describing how uncomfortable filming the movie was for her. In particular, she recalled walking in the Tribeca Grand hotel in New York City on the first day that she tried the fat suit on.
“I walked through the lobby,” the Marvel alum told W Magazine in 2001. “It was so sad, it was so disturbing. No one would make eye contact with me because I was obese. I felt humiliated because people were really dismissive.”
Viewers have also taken to social media to criticize the movie over the years, with one user posting to X, formerly known as Twitter, “The issue is that shallow Hal was super fatphobic. A lot of my fat clients talk about shallow hal as being one of those movies that taught them to hate their bodies. It makes me really sad.” Another said, “Shallow Hal just might be the most offensive movie I’ve ever seen on so many levels.”
But these days, Snitzer said she is in a good place.
In addition to not worrying about eating, she told The Guardian she’s “found a lot of stability in between the two extremes” of her past.
And she’s learned to leave body worries behind her, adding, “I was always my personality. I’ve always been a personality in this body.”
E! News has reached out to reps for Paltrow, 20th Century Fox and the Farrelly Brothers, the film’s directors, but has not received a comment.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237.