Ivy Snitzer has fond memories of filming "Shallow Hal" as Gwyneth Paltrow's body double, but the aftermath of the movie's release took her physical and mental health to a dark place.
The former actor, who is now an insurance agency owner in Philadelphia, shared her memories of the controversial 2001 movie and the serious complications she endured from weight-loss surgery in an interview with writer Amelia Tait for her newsletter, "The Waiting Room."
The movie tells the story of a character played by Jack Black who gets hypnotized so that he falls in love with people's inner beauty. It leads to him dating Rosemary, a character played by Paltrow, who wore a fat suit to portray a 300-pound woman. Rosemary's "inner beauty" is represented by Paltrow without the fat suit.
Snitzer was used as a body double for close-up shots of Rosemary's arms and legs. She told Tait the experience was "exciting" and that the cast "treated me like I really mattered."
She said on set she didn't even mind the jokes about her weight in the film because she regularly made similar jokes herself.
However, once the film was released in November 2001, she dealt with a backlash from people over her body.
“It didn’t occur to me that the film would be seen by millions of people," she said. "It was like the worst parts about being fat were magnified. And no one was telling me I was funny.”
Some critics accused her of promoting obesity, with one person even sending her diet pills. "I got really scared,” Snitzer recalled. “I was like, maybe I’m done with the concept of fame, maybe I don’t want to be an actor. Maybe I’ll do something else.”
At the time, she said she was committed to being "a good fatty."
“I hated my body the way I was supposed to,” she said. “I ate a lot of salads. I had eating disorders that I was very proud of.”
Two years after the film's release, she underwent gastric band surgery — where a band is wrapped around the stomach to reduce its capacity and slow emptying, which induces weight loss, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Asked why she got the surgery, Snitzer explained: "Because I was supposed to! If you’re fat, you’re supposed to try to not be.”
Snitzer also reflected on whether filming "Shallow Hal" was part of her decision to have the surgery.
“I’m sure it was," she said. "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.”
The surgery began a serious medical ordeal for Snitzer that had permanent consequences. She said the band slipped, leaving her able to ingest only liquids for three months because she didn't have health insurance to get it corrected immediately.
“I was so thin you could see my teeth through my face, and my skin was all gray,” she said.
Once she got her health insurance back, she couldn't get the corrective procedure because she was too malnourished, she said, adding that she needed liquid nutrition for four months in order to "not die."
She said doctors eventually performed a gastric bypass surgery that removed part of her stomach and that she can still only eat tiny portions, and can't eat and drink at the same time.
In the 22 years since "Shallow Hal" was released, Snitzer has only seen it one time — at the movie premiere. The married mother of a 13-year-old has no plans to watch it with her daughter.
“It didn’t make me feel bad about myself," she said. "Until you know, other people started telling me I probably should have felt bad about myself.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com