Star Jones

Star Jones
Have you met Miss Jones?


BET "Heart of the City...Dying to Eat in Jackson"

To watch "Heart of the City
...Dying to Eat in Jackson," 
click HERE

To watch more of the 
Roundtable discussion, 
click HERE


Loving YOURSELF enough to be ANY means necessary!

I love myself.  I love my brain, my heart, my smile, my candor, my inquisitiveness, my interest in others, my confidence, my ability to forgive and show love.  I love the law.  I love that I know God...and he knows me.  I love that I'm smart, strong, confident, courageous, honest and trustworthy.  I love ME!  This is not a recent revelation; it is a lifelong reality.

But for a long time it was incomplete; for you see...even with all that I loved about myself ...I didn't love myself enough to be a healthy weight.  

I didn't use that famous strength, confidence, honesty and courage in the one area that matters above all:  taking care of my health.

When it came to my weight...I was weak, shy, sneaky, conniving, secretive, ashamed and emotionally cripple.  I defined myself partially through carrying those extra pounds.  I liked being the smart "chubby" girl in the room without having to compete with the vapid "pretty"ones.  I could be "one of the girls" because they never saw me a competition and I could be "one of the boys" because they never saw me as potential.  I thought I had it made...

That was until I found myself unable to sleep through the night, unable to breathe without sounding like I was having an asthma attack, unable to walk without being winded, developing pulmonary and heart issues and on the cusp of diabetes; that I realized I didn't love myself at all.  All those things I loved about me would be gone and forgotten if I died because I was too scared, lazy, undisciplined and proud to get help with the greatest health challenge I had ever faced.  I was morbidly obese and slowly killing myself.  

It wasn't like I didn't know I was overweight.

Sadly, I'm not the only one.  Everyone I know or have talked to over the last six years since I had weight loss surgery and began this journey has said the same thing to me..."It's not like I didn't know I was fat."  300 pounds is pretty hard to hide.  But honestly, it all became real to me when I stopped using words like "heavy" "full-figured" "plus-sized"& "phat" & start saying "obese" "morbidly obese" "unhealthy" and "dying" instead.  

Harsh words for a harsh reality.  I could smile at the world in anyone else; but when you find yourself alone in your bathtub and you're too big to stretch your arm across the tub to adjust the water one needs to point out that you are too damn big.  But it took instances like that to make me decide to step out on faith for ME.

As most people now know, after serious consultation with my doctors, I decided to have Gastric Bypass Surgery.  It wasn't the "easy way out."  It was the "necessary way in" for me.  

It is important for me to convey with all sincerity that my path is not necessarily your path to healthy weight loss. Only you and your doctor can design a plan that will work in the long-term for you.  Weight Loss Surgery is a major life altering change and I had great insurance, financial  resources, tremendous support & no obligations other than me. This doesn't make me "special"...just really blessed and I don't for a minute take it for granted.  However, let me say this, having Weight Loss Surgery started me on a healthy path, but changing my lifestyle habits, portion control, exercise and discipline has kept me on that path. Six years after surgery...I have stayed within 5 pounds of my target goal weight for FOUR straight years. It is truly the greatest accomplishment of my life.

When I decided to have Gastric Bypass, I knew I'd take some criticism.  I honestly didn't know it would be as intense as it was...and I didn't help by trying to be slick and telling only what I wanted to tell about what I was going through.  I didn't lie about it...not ANYONE.  I just didn't talk about it in public because, I wasn't ready to talk about it.  No apologies, no further explanations...just straight talk. 

It has taken me years of therapy to get to this point because I was used to evaluating my self worth through the eyes of others, but the day I stopped worrying what others thought about what I did to take care of me...was the day I REALLY got healthy.  So let me put this issue to bed once and for all as bluntly as I can:  I didn't get healthy for YOU...I got healthy for I talked about it when I could handle it.  I talked about it when I figured it out.  I talked about it when I was no longer afraid that I would go back to my old habits.  I talked about it when I had something to say.

And I'm saying something in "Heart of the City...Dying to Eat in Jackson," a documentary for BET that addresses the obesity epidemic in the African American community.  We as a community are slowly killing ourselves with Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke and High Blood Pressure; and the weapon of choice is food.  That is not a is a fact.  

The statistics are staggering.  Every single state in the US (except for Colorado) has obesity rates in excess of 20%.  The poorest states have obesity rates of 30% or more and Mississippi has the highest obesity rate in the land at nearly 1/3 of all residents being obese or morbidly obese.  When you isolate the African-American community, in nearly every state we are at a 35-45% obesity rate and some statistics suggest that black women are particularly at many states, nearly 50% fall into the obese category.  When I saw the obesity trends among children (black girls ages 12-19 are almost at 30%...double the rate of caucasian girls!)  I started to cry...

That's when I decided it was time for me to say something.

I'm one of the few public people in news, entertainment, philanthropy and law who can or will say that I know what it feels like to weigh 300 pounds, to lose more than I now weigh and to maintain that weight loss for significant period of time.  God has given me an amazing public platform to share my thoughts, ideas, opinions, knowledge and expertise. It would be unfair and tremendously selfish of me if I didn't use it for the good of my people and my community.  

There are resources out there.  But the first step starts with loving yourself enough to be any means necessary!

My BET "Heart of the City" documentary on Obesity premieres Sunday, November 15th at 10pm/9c on BET.  Click here for a sneak peek.

Note:  All of the highlighted links connect you to further information on this vital topic!

Thank you to the people of Jackson, Mississippi who welcomed me, BET and our cameras into their lives.  Your stories and your struggle with save lives.



~Star Jones

Now you've done it.  My sister Sheila is pissed!  She just found out that someone is impersonating me on FACEBOOK.  How did she find out?  We were talking about social networking and how much I enjoy my "Twitter" family and she asked why I hadn't "updated my Facebook page."  When I told her that I didn't have a Facebook page...I thought her head was going to spin off her neck!  You see my sister, four of my cousins, my aunt and countless other longtime friends and associates have been "friends" to this person for months thinking it was me.  All I can say is Damn.

To all the people who have "befriended" this person; please know that I have NEVER been on Facebook and this page is not my page or anyone affiliated with me.

Do not correspond with this account thinking that you are interacting with me...

Now...on the real... impersonating someone on a social networking site is pathetic on so many levels, it boggles the mind.  First of all, my life isn't that interesting.  I'm just as real as the girl sitting next to you in the hair salon.  If you really knew'd know that.  Second, the people who join as friends don't deserve to be put in a trick bag of fakery because of a silly obsession.  There might be legitimate questions or issues that these "Facebook Friends" are dealing with and to waste their time is cruel and mean-spirited.  Not to mention pitiful.

Yes, I will be having it taken down, because the REAL Star Jones can do that; but my best advice to the person who set this silliness in motion is to  focus on what is real in YOUR life so you don't have to reside in MINE.

Oh...and by the way...if you really want to be me; I got some bills you can pay.  Just tell me where to send them!

Rihanna & Chris...What I should have learned at Eight

After watching Rihanna discuss Chris Brown on ABC for the last two days I felt compelled to comment because the issue of domestic violence is important and deserves discussion. Most times when a major issue is in the news, I take to my laptop and the words just flow freely and quickly and it is like a bomb explodes in me and everything inside of me must come out.  

I must confess that this time it was different. I honestly found myself trying to walk a "fine line" around the issue; so as to see "both sides."  Huh? What the hell was I thinking searching for words that would comfort that which is uncomfortable, explain the unexplainable and defend the indefensible.  I'm still figuring out why...even as I type...

This should be easy for me...the ex-prosecutor.  For these are the facts:

  • Battering on women is the most under reported crime in America.
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States; more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
  • Three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husbands, or male lovers. 
  • One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States. 
  • About 1 out of 4 women are likely to be abused by a partner in her lifetime. 
  • Approximately 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women. 
  • Police report that between 40% and 60% of the calls they receive, especially on the night shift, are domestic violence disputes. 
  • Battering occurs among people of all races, ages, socio-economic classes, religious affiliations, occupations, and educational backgrounds.
  • Domestic violence is not only physical and sexual violence but also psychological.
  • A battering incident is rarely an isolated event.
  • Battering tends to increase and become more violent over time.
  • Many batterers learned violent behavior growing up in an abusive family.

Then it hit me...even knowing what I know to be fact on the issue of Domestic Violence, I was trying to find a way to justify not put Chris Brown "on blast" for his behavior.  I was looking for an excuse for him "going off" in such a violent way.  I was searching for a way to justify his behavior because of his youth, immaturity, background, fame and temper or  her youth, immaturity, background, fame and temper.  I was also annoyed that this young couple had become the poster children for domestic violence when it happens every day to many more people who are not famous and who don't get the attention.  I was pissed that other people seem to get a "pass" for bad behavior.  I was disheartened that "sisters" were so critical of Rihanna and questioned her motives.  I was having trouble formulating my comments; because I was focused on the big picture of this issue.

And then my nephew Tyson flashed in my head.

About two years ago, Chris Brown was on tour and my then seven-year-old nephew Tyson desperately wanted to see him in concert.  When I tell you this kid loved him some Chris Brown...I don't exaggerate.  He danced like him, sang all his songs, had him on his IPOD...the whole nine yards.  Tyson doesn't ask me for a when "Auntie Star" gets a specific request...I jump through hoops to get it done.  So I pulled some strings and got some VIP passes for Tyson and the little girl from his class he adored "Cierra" (who he described as having eyes like "snowflakes"...yeah, I know...the kid is deep) and off they went (chaperoned by my sister and brother-in-law) for a night on the town in Richmond Virginia.  They had a great time and Chris didn't disappoint.  Tyson clearly because a junior stud in the eyes of Cierra...and "Auntie Star" was again "Fairy Godmother."

Fast forward about a year later to February 2009 Tyson now eight years old and all over the news is Chris Brown.  This time not for a cool new concert, but for beating up his then girlfriend Rihanna.  Now, as much  Tyson loved Chris Brown the performer, he could take Rihanna or leave her; but this wasn't about Chris' music today.  My Dad said Tyson purposefully sat with him and watched the news,  Entertainment Tonight, etc. about the "incident." He saw Rihanna's badly bruised face, he heard the 911 tape and then he very deliberately asked for a trash bag.  Eight year old Tyson got up from the sofa, gathered every CD, tee shirt and poster of Chris Brown he had and put it in the bag and gave it to his grandfather.  He said "here, I don't want it anymore."  My Dad (I adore this man so much...) then told Tyson he might want to wait to hear all sides of the story before jumping to conclusions.  And according to my father, Tyson asked one question:  "Did he hit her?"  Dad said, "it looks that way."  Tyson then brought it all home with one phrase:  "Pop Pop, boys don't hit girls."

Tyson didn't need a law degree, facts and figures, a 20/20 interview or a Larry King confession.  He knew a universal truth that he learned at an early age that gave him all the information he needed.  "Boys don't hit girls."  Period.

There is no question that Rihanna was brutally beaten by Chris Brown.  I'm not sure if she initiated, instigated, ignited or provoked the situation that lead to the altercation...and I really don't care.  Bottom line is Chris Brown repeatedly hit Rihanna in the face so hard that it left her bloodied, bruised and beaten...and that is unacceptable on any level.  Any man who would do so deserves to be prosecuted and punished and any woman who is the victim of it needs to run...not walk as fast as she can away from the situation because that relationship is toxic and dangerous.

There, I said it.  Thank you Tyson...

I wish no ill will towards Chris Brown, I'm proud that he took responsibility for his actions and took his punishment like a man.  I hope he gets the help he needs to control his anger, deal with the history of violence in his family and grows into the man he knows he can be.  Chris Brown deserves the chance to change, to grow and to prove himself to be worth of the adulation of his fans.  Those are my hopes for Chris...but my prayers are with Rihanna that she finds the strength and the courage to love herself enough not to ever accept that a volatile and violent relationship is love.

Love is kind, love is passionate, love is pleasurable...there is no hitting in love.


Innocence: Badly Beaten...and Bruised

October must be the month for school dances in California.
Three weeks ago, I flew out to Los Angeles to help my 15 year old god-daughter prepare for her first one.  I think I was more excited than she was at one point in the evening when she let me do her makeup and hair, help her pick out jewelry and once we figured out she was wearing open toed shoes...I even painted her toenails; 'cause that's what "Aunties" do!  She and her 5 girlfriends had chipped in for a limo for the evening and I cried as the baby I held in the front of a church 15 years earlier standing next to her parents...left for her first school dance.  I was so filled with joy for what this would mean in her memory bank.  The jokes they would tell, the stories they would have, the boys they would giggle about.  Oh, to be 15 on this night...I wouldn't want it again...but I sure as heck wanted the experience for her.

Fast forward just two weeks later and I imagine another family doing something very similar in Richmond, California.  A 15 year-old and her mother or "Aunties" helped pick out a cute dress, some high-heeled shoes and decided on the hair do that would "set it all off" because the big dance at Richmond High School was that night.  I'll bet she met her girlfriends at the dance, they laughed and danced and pointed out the cute fellas.  Boy was she going to have stories when her dad picked her up from the dance.  At 15, she probably walked out of the gymnasium thinking...this is the best night of my life...

She couldn't have be more wrong.  At around 9:30pm, she walked out of her school and accepted an invitation to hang a little bit longer in a courtyard...literally yards from the school.

What she walked into was not a group that wanted to add to the joy of her night, but a group of about a dozen boys and young men already well into gallons of vodka. I don't know if it was peer pressure that made her drink with these guys or a desire to just extend the fun of the evening, but soon after a few drinks of brandy, the guys starting propositioning and pressuring her for sex.  Probably sensing the imminent danger she was now in, the girl said no.  But these men weren't taking no for an answer.
What ensued was 2 1/2 hours of vicious and horrific beatings and raping, at times with a foreign object. The scene attracted onlookers, some calling others over by cell phone, and eventually there were as many as 10 men or boys sexually assaulting the girl while another 20 looked on, laughing and snapping pictures.  After suffering a horror that cannot be adequately described or imagined, the police finally rescued this semi-conscious, beaten, bloodied and brutalized child.

She has a long road to recovery.  I've interviewed enough rape victims over the years to know that no woman ever "gets over" a rape...the best you can hope for is to "get through" the trauma and re-build your trust in humanity.  I send this child and her family prayers of strength as she starts that process.
Becoming "whole" again is her job with the help of her friends and family, but we, as a society have a job also.  First and foremost, we owe it to her to find each and every one of her attackers, and all those who induced, persuaded, convinced, prompted, encouraged, instigated, incited, urged, goaded, aided, assisted and facilitated this attack to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

We in the media owe it to her to report this story and follow this investigation with the same fervor and attention that we would give the family of a six year old allegedly floating through the sky in a makeshift balloon.

Law Enforcement owes it to her to passionately pursue justice on her behalf as if she were a 15 year old blond middle class girl gang raped by a bunch of thugs outside a suburban homecoming dance. The community where the attack occurred may be minority, poor and notoriously violent, but justice should be blind to race, economics and culture. When violence happens to wealthy photogenic "good" girls we  take it on as a nationwide pain; well this child of a working class community deserves our collective pain as well. 

I refuse to believe that I live in a society that deems the life and pain of a less privileged woman less important.  But allow me to remind you that when Kanye West hijacked the microphone from Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards, the collective outrage was palpable.  Society cared so much that Twitter crashed and everything from Facebook to the talking heads of every news network, blog, and radio station across the country was awash in calls for Kanye's head. I pray that we show this young woman who will need a "village" to help her heal from the wounds of this attack that we don't live in a culture in which oceans of humanity will speak up for a celebrity who hardly needs attention or help, but have no voice for a girl is brutalized behind a school by two dozen men and boys. 

My 15 year-old god-daughter came home from her school dance with a cadre of memories that will last a did this 15 year old and it breaks my heart.  I can't close my eyes now without thinking of what she endured...and survived.  And none of us should sleep soundly until justice is done.