Overweight and Forgotten: Sunni, Christian, Chenese

Overweight and Forgotten: Sunni, Christian, Chenese

"My dream is to be a successful plus-size model or pageant winner, but my boyfriend wants me to sit in the house, wear baggy pants and just be forgotten," says Sunni, who weighs close to 300 pounds.

Sunni's boyfriend, Christian, says, "I think plus-size women, instead of modeling, should be where no one can see them. It's a waste of time, and I'm sick of people filling her head with dreams that will never come true."

"My mom classifies Christian as a dream buster," Sunni says.

"Sometimes I am embarrassed by Sunni because she'll wear blouses that are too tight, and you can also see her stomach," Christian says.

"When we're walking, he'll walk ahead of me, or he won't hold my hand," she says.

Christian admits he taunted overweight girls in high school and gave attention to them in college so they would write his papers for him. "I don't want her to be on the runway. When I see her up there, I cringe and look around to see if anybody's laughing. Our arguments get pretty heated and there can be some name-calling. There's no way that Sunni can make it as a model," he says.

Sunni says Christian's comments about her size often make her cry. "The only one really trying to crush my dreams is Christian," she says.

Dr. Phil wants to know what Sunni thought of his previous guest, Lorna's, story of being abused by her boyfriend.

"It kind of sounded similar to mine," she says. 

"Do you think she is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Absolutely," Sunni says. "I think everyone should be treated that way.'

"So you think anybody should at least be free of insult, character assassination, name-calling, derogation, humiliation, all of that? Everyone but you?" he asks.

"I feel absolutely that I should be treated with respect. That's why I'm here," she says.

Dr. Phil turns to Christian. "If she's so gross to you, if you're embarrassed of her … If you feel that badly about her, what are you doing sticking around?"

"I don't feel that badly about Sunni," Christian says. "I love her dearly. I care for
her with no ends. It's just this one thing that I think she can improve on."

Dr. Phil tells Christian that in all his notes about him, "I didn't find one thing in here with a verb in it about you helping her do a damn thing … You're embarrassed of her, right?"

"No, I'm not embarrassed by her. I'm worried for her," he says.

"I didn't see that anywhere either," Dr. Phil says, looking at his notes.

"Well, it's there and she knows it," he says. "I've also tried to get her to join a gym. I've paid for the membership. I've bought a treadmill. I've done several things."

Dr. Phil tells Christian that his comments like, "I'll just slap your thigh and ride the wave in" hurt Sunni's feelings and don't motivate her.

Sunni agrees. "I try to brush it off. I try to laugh it off and smile, act like it doesn't bother me, but it really does. But you know, I try to go on and still be fabulous every day that I can be."

"I look at you, and obviously you are a beautiful woman," Dr. Phil tells Sunni.


"Thank you," she says with a smile.

"You are large, and I want you to be smaller," he tells her. "You would do so much better health-wise if you had less weight on you … You can be a plus-size model at this size,

but you'd be healthier if you took a little weight off and got your exercise going and all of that. Do you agree?"


"I agree. I'm working toward living a healthier lifestyle, and trying to incorporate more activity and eating healthier in my everyday life, and if that results in me losing weight, then I'm fine with that, and if it doesn't, then I'm also fine with that," Sunni says.

Dr. Phil asks Christian, "Are you ever going to be at peace with her if she doesn't lose a whole bunch of weight?"

"I will. I'm at peace with her now; it's the plus-size modeling that I feel is pointless," Christian says. "I think she's too big to be one. I think she doesn't have the drive. I just don't think she has it."

"And you base that on what?" Dr. Phil asks. 

"I know they don't want women as big as she," he says.

Dr. Phil introduces Chenese Lewis, who holds the title of Miss Plus America Lifetime. She won the Miss Plus America title in 2003 but was given the Lifetime award because of her dedication to being such a positive role model.

Chenese says, "First of all, I want to say that Sunni is beautiful " absolutely gorgeous " and I think she needs to be with a man who supports her and has her best interests at hand." She tells Sunni, "You want someone who's going to uplift you, and somebody who's going to be positive, not somebody who's going to tear you down. That's what enemies do, not boyfriends."

Chenese says that although the industry does tend to use models that are more average than plus size, it doesn't mean Sunni isn't able to do any modeling. She has some surprises for Sunni. She explains that Sunni will receive two VIP passes to the 2007 Miss Plus America Pageant in Dallas. The pageant encourages personal accomplishment, achievement, self-esteem, confidence and community involvement for women size 14 or greater. "You don't have to bring your boyfriend," she says. "We want you to view the pageant and see all the beautiful women and be inspired, and hopefully you'll come back in 2008 and be a contestant."


Also, Sydney's Closet will provide a formal gown for Sunni to wear to the final night of the pageant. "So you can be a full-figured diva just like you are." Chenese also invites Sunni to be a runway model in the National Organization for Women's Hollywood fashion show celebrating Love Your Body Day.

Sunni is delighted. "Oh, wow," she says.

Dr. Phil asks Christian if he'll support Sunni through these endeavors.

"I support her in anything she does. I just want her to get healthy, and if she's not going to plan on trying to get healthy, get these [delusions] of grandeur out of her head because it's not going to happen. That's all I'm saying," Christian says.

At the end of the show, Dr. Phil tells Christian, "I think there's a point at which you're going to have to make the decision that this is a very focused young woman here, and if there are some things that she can do, you might want to be a part of that." He points out that although Sunni just got some
wonderful news, he couldn't even be happy for her for a moment.

Dr. Phil tells Sunni, "You need to ask yourself what you're requiring of your partner. If he's a dream crusher, than you're inviting him in to do that."

Members of the studio audience receive a copy of Dr. Phil's book, The Ultimate Weight Solution.