courtesy Caitlin Van Zandt
There's a lot less of Caitlin Van Zandt these days. The plus-size Guiding Light star recently underwent Lap-Band surgery and has already dropped more than 40 pounds. The GL writers had her character, teenager Ashlee Wolfe, undergo the same weight-loss procedure in a plot that was intended to be inspiring. But all this has some of Van Zandt's fans riled up. We asked her about it. - Michael Logan

Lap-Band surgery isn't controversial. It's minimally invasive, unlike gastric by-pass, and considered safe - yet your choice to have it stirred up controversy!
Celebrities talk about everything from their drug rehab stints to the people they've slept with, yet I've gotten flack on the Internet for doing the Lap-Band as if I'm somehow being a bad role model. A lot of the fans relate to me because I'm real-looking - which I think is wonderful - but they also had this predisposed notion that I was proud of the way I looked. Truth is, I've been self-conscious about my weight since I was a kid. I haven't worn a bathing suit since I was 6 - we even used that as a line on the show.

Viewers also gripe that Ashlee hadn't seemed bothered by her weight.
I know! We hadn't seen her try to diet or exercise or deal in any way with the issue, so people were wondering why she was suddenly having surgery. But the show wanted to play this out in real time with my own weight loss so we had to fast-track it.

How're you feeling?
Fantastic. I was a size 18. My goal is size 8. I'm never going to be Hollywood skinny. But already the change is amazing. I no longer run to food because I'm sad or bored, and I'm in therapy letting go of all sorts of emotional weight. Every day I'm feeling more and more like the ideal me. I'm sorry some of the fans are disappointed, but you know what? I'd rather be a role model for people who want to take charge of their health.