In sketches on Saturday Night Live, she was lampooned by the late overweight comedian Chris Farley, who donned a wig and dress to play her. In music videos, she was hidden behind pianos and photographed in close-up to camouflage the size of her body, as the camera lingered on her thinner band mates, Wendy Wilson (her sister) and the sylphlike Chynna Phillips.
Now, at the age of 31, Carnie has taken drastic measures to attain a slender body. She underwent surgery to reduce the size of her stomach and modify her intestines to change the way her body absorbs nutrients.
She is not alone; about 100,000 Americans have undergone some type of surgery with the goal of becoming thinner. But Carnie is different in that she had her operation on the Internet.
"The whole reason we are doing this on the Internet is to educate people, not only about this surgery, but the whole experience of having surgery, which can be the most frightening situation," says Dr. Jonathan Sackier, chairman and medical director of A Doctor in Your House, the Web site that hosted the operaton.
Dr. Sackier is one of the physicians who narrated the procedure, explaining the purposes of the various machines and equipment in the room.
According to Dr. Sackier, Carnie is 5 feet 4 inches tall and more than 100 pounds overweight. Weight loss can start immediately after the surgery.
|Dr. Sackier and Marilyn Wilson|
"I feel that it's a very brave, brave thing to do, not only to do it in front of the whole world, but brave for her own life and lifestyle," says Marilyn Wilson.
"I think that she has just reached an age where she says that she has to do something about it now or she will be unhealthy the rest of her life. Like everybody, she wants to live a long, fulfilled life," she says.
On both sides of Carnie's family, there are relatives who have been obese, including her father, former Beach Boy Brian Wilson.
"Since she was 4 years old, she has had a weight problem," explains Carnie's mother. "She was pudgy then. Her metabolism did not work like other kids'."
It may seem odd to take a serious subject and make it a little bit "Hollywood" by doing an operation on the Internet. But Dr. Sackier disputes that idea.
"This isn't Hollywood. This is medcal education. It's very serious. We're not trivializing. We're doing this very, very seriously and with utter commitment to education," he told CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Thalia Assuras.
How does Carnie's mother feel about the Internet carrying such a major operation?
"Carnie has always been in the public eye with her music and helping people and giving to people," she says. "Here, she is giving of herself and doing a wonderful thing for herself and, yet, for everybody [by] being a very good example for people and showing them they can get help with a problem they can't seem to conquer on their own."
[To visit the Web site A Doctor in Your House click here.]
[For more information about gastric bypass operations, click here.]