Watching Fergie

It's Monday morning, and a thousand Seattle-area persons of size have crowded into a fourth-floor Westin Hotel conference room. Sarah Ferguson, the Weight Watchers spokesperson and the Duchess of York, is due to arrive any minute. One woman from Tacoma, who's 70 inches tall and used to be 80 inches around, is on the edge of her folding chair.

Suddenly and without warning, music surges into the room: Fergie's here. Frenzy ensues. A throng of women—jumping, shrieking, punching the air with pom-poms—swarms in and leads Fergie to the stage.

"I like this city a lot," she says of being in Seattle for the first time as a spokesperson. And she likes her hotel, the W. "It's trendy and modern. Although they could turn up the lights a bit. It's so dark in there." The stress of traveling makes her want to eat. Yesterday, she almost ate a candy bar. "I spit it out. Then I had enough points left to have a vodka tonic on the plane."

Halfway through the meeting, Fergie—fit, foxy, 42—invites a handful of Weight Watchers success stories onstage. One success story, Kim Henton from Seattle, wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to exercise. "4:30?" Fergie says, "that's what time I get in."

Then Fergie asks Dawn Fletcher, who's lost 237 lbs., how Fletcher's life has changed. Fletcher says, "I can now wear seat belts."

Weight loss changed Fergie's life, too. Years ago, a British tabloid reported that 82 percent of England would rather sleep with a goat than with Fergie. Then someone wrote she was the Duchess of Pork, and that name stuck. "Imagine the person who did that headline," Fergie says today. "Probably they thought, you know, York, pork, dork. . . . And yet it's stayed with me. That throwaway line probably saved my life."

After the meeting, 32 randomly selected women get to have lunch with Fergie. What's on the menu? Fergie wonders. "It'll be a buffet," an organizer says. "It's an American thing. We love all-you-can-eat."

Earlier, Fergie admitted, "I'm a closet American. I couldn't have [lost that weight] if America didn't embrace me. I couldn't have made it without you."

Christopher Frizzelle

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