CLOSE to 40 years after starting the fat-fighting company Weigh-Less, Mary Holroyd even has an event named after her – and she visited Port Elizabeth last week to speak at this city’s annual “Mary” event.
The Mary event celebrates the birthday of Weigh-Less, which Holroyd founded in Durban in 1975 with just a bathroom scale and R10 to pay for printing and advertising. She is honoured to come back to the place where it all started, Holroyd said.
“I arrived in Durban in September 1974 as an immigrant, came down to the Eastern Cape for a holiday with family members and, during that Christmas period, I made up my mind that, when I get back to Durban, I’m going to start a small slimming group. So, this area, here, is the birthplace of Weigh-less.
“I wanted a liveable, doable and affordable eating plan that would be founded on sound nutritional principles. The vision was to create an environment where members could come and feel secure and supported on their journey to goal weight. The idea would be to have groups, led by former overweight people who had empathy, and could support the members both individually and as a group.”
Holroyd leads by example as she shed 29kg 44 years ago and has been at her goal weight ever since. She said Weigh-less is her whole life, and described it as a safe-house.
“It’s a place where you can go, you don’t have to be embarrassed and you can trust that you’re not going to be humiliated. Having a weight problem, we never feel the best about ourselves. We already feel a little abusive to ourselves. It’s a bad state. When you feel like that, you trap other people to think like that. [But if] you go around thinking ‘I’m intelligent, I’m sexy and I look good’, people will also think ‘she’s intelligent, she’s sexy and she looks good’ – you are what you feel.”
Holroyd, who had 20 minutes to speak at the event, said she felt she hadn’t said enough.