As The Swan's plastic surgeons sharpen their scalpels to transform yet another average Jane into a future Stuff covergirl in tonight's episode (airing at 9 ET on Fox), TV Guide Online catches up with the lipo-lovin' reality series' last overhaul recipient, Kathy R.. We couldn't believe the 27-year-old part-time vacuum-cleaner salesperson really wouldn't pursue her dream career in fashion because she didn't think she looked the part. (Seriously, had she seen Betsey Johnson?) Alas, the Illinois native wasn't kidding. Read on, and see for yourself.
TV Guide Online: Kathy, you do know that in order to be a designer, you don't have to be a model, right?
Kathy R.: I know. But I always had this preconceived notion that only a certain type of person would be in that type of business. I never really felt like I fit in. I always kind of felt like I had to hold my personality back.
TVGO: But you had a cute boyfriend who adored you the way you were. Didn't that make you think, "Hey, maybe I'm not so hideous after all"?
Kathy: Well, it also has a lot to do with your own opinion. Every time I looked in the mirror, I know what I saw. Obviously, he never saw that, but I felt uncomfortable. I never really felt good going out with him. He's a little bit younger than me, so I would always worry that he was going to find somebody younger or whatnot. Life has definitely made me look a lot older than I really needed to. I looked like I was 35.
TVGO: Were you worried at all that after you completely changed your appearance, he might not have the same appreciation for you?
Kathy: I did have a few apprehensions. I didn't know if he was going to be like, "I can't handle this." But he's been a real trouper. It's kind of funny, because when he came up to see me [following my reveal], his hands were shaking. He said, "You're so beautiful! As long as you don't change on the inside, that's all that matters."
TVGO: But, um, inside is where you actually needed to change.
Kathy: Right. Being out here, not being able to see yourself [in the mirror for three months], you got to focus on the inside instead of worrying about, "Oh, what are they doing to me?" One of the biggest parts of the transformation was working on who you are and accepting yourself.
TVGO: Which, theoretically, you could have done through therapy, right?
Kathy: They had a therapist there, and I think that really helped me out. I know I couldn't have done that on my own. But you know, when you're busy trying to work, go to school and take care of a house, worrying about your family and everything like that, you don't think about yourself. The Swan program definitely gave me the time to put myself first for once. The plastic surgery was the icing on the cake.
TVGO: So the message you'd like to send is that you could make peace with yourself from the inside out instead of the other way around. Do I have that right?
Kathy: Yeah, um, you could definitely do that. It just takes a lot of motivation on your own part. I just felt really lost and didn't know where to begin. It's really hard on a person emotionally.
TVGO: I'll be sure and tell my shrink. Now then, you didn't quite make it to your goal weight. What was your downfall. It was Peeps, wasn't it? Those things are evil!
Kathy: (Laughs) I don't even like those! No. I actually had lost a lot of weight prior to the show, and they didn't show that. I used to be 180 pounds. When I got to L.A., I was 148. I'm down to 130 now. I've lost 17 pounds since I've been home. I feel really good about myself. They weren't pushing me and saying, "You have to starve yourself." They were trying to make sure that I met my goals. I wasn't going to make myself sick over it. I wanted to do it in a healthy way. I'll do it in my own time.
TVGO: I've got to give you props for the rock-'n'roll-babe outfit you wore to your "unveiling"; I was getting tired of those Barbie-doll gowns. Did you design the dress?
Kathy: Actually, I didn't; it was done by Tadashi. I saw the other girls getting the traditional gowns, and I wanted to be different. I like a little bit edgier look, with more style. That's more my personality. And they went with it! I was very pleased.
TVGO: Do you think that bucking the glamour-girl trend cost you your place in the pageant?
Kathy: No, I think they liked the fact that I wanted to be different. I think [my ouster] had to do more with the overall transformation. I think [competitor] Beth did a little bit more work than I did. But I don't feel like I lost. I came out ahead anyway. I'm happy with who I am and where I'm going, and I'm happy for Beth.