Giuliana Rancic My Tough Year

Giuliana Rancic has revealed intimate moments and bared plenty of private heartache on her reality television series. But when the Twittersphere erupted over her drastically thinner appearance at the Golden Globes on Jan. 11, the E! News anchor and Fashion Police cohost kept the pain she felt to herself. “I was so shocked,” she says. “You don’t say to someone, ‘You look so disgusting, you must have an eating disorder.’ If someone really thought I had an eating disorder, what a horrible way to approach it! It was very hurtful.”

Now, for the first time, she has decided to address the issue head-on – as well as to open up about that other media firestorm: the uproar following her post-Oscar Fashion Police quip that Zendaya, who sported long dreadlocks on the red carpet, probably smelled of “patchouli oil and weed.” After Zendaya spoke out against what she felt were “ignorant slurs,” Rancic says she began “getting death threats,” and within weeks her Fashion Police cohosts Kelly Osbourne and Kathy Griffin resigned, both referencing their discomfort with the show’s direction. (It is on hiatus until the fall.) Through it all Rancic, 40 – whose new memoir Going Off Script is out this month – has tried hard to hold on to her naturally sunny outlook. “Whatever happens, good or bad, there is a purpose that will ultimately expose itself,” she says. “That philosophy hasn’t failed me yet.”

So what is going on with her weight? Rancic says she’s fully aware that it’s a problem. “I think now is a good time to address it, because it’s really gotten out of hand lately,” she says. “I never want my weight to distract people from my work.” But she insists it’s not about what she does or doesn’t eat. After undergoing a double mastectomy in 2011, she began taking a commonly prescribed breast cancer drug to help prevent a recurrence and soon noticed that “I started losing weight,” she says. “I was eating a lot, so I was concerned.” (Her oncologist Dr. Dev Paul of Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers in Denver told her that the drug, which can alter the metabolism, potentially has that effect.)

Also contributing to her thinness, Rancic believes, is the stress she’s been under since she and her husband, Bill, 43, received a devastating personal blow in December. The couple, whose E! reality show Giuliana & Bill chronicled an emotional struggle with infertility (their son Duke, 2, was born via surrogate), had been hoping to expand their family. Instead, New Year’s Eve brought the news that their surrogate had again miscarried (the first miscarriage was recounted on the show in 2014). Now, the Rancics had run out of embryos. “We were so optimistic about the last embryo,” says Rancic. “It was really tough news to be dealt.”

But the TV host is nothing if not determined to keep moving forward with her life. In her new book she reveals that she suffered from debilitating scoliosis as a teen that deeply scarred her self-image (see box). “It’s very hard to camouflage, and it’s all you think about all day, every minute of the day,” she says, her eyes welling at the memory. “I was always hoping that someday someone would tell me I was pretty. And I just wasn’t.”

Surgery at age 21 straightened her curved spine, and the fiercely ambitious Rancic managed to successfully pursue a career in front of the camera. But the emotional damage – and the bony shoulders her Globes dress highlighted – remain. “I’m shaped a certain way because of the scoliosis,” she says. “Even if I gained 20 lbs., the bones in my back would still look the way they do.”

For the next seven years, until she is finished taking the cancer medication, gaining 20 lbs. may not be easy. “I look in the mirror, and it’s hard for me,” she admits. “I am really thin. I want to look fit and beautiful and sexy and curvy, and I can’t.” A recent home video she posted received more than 1,000 comments, she says, most of them lambasting her “horrible” appearance. “I’m sorry that people think I’m disgustingly skinny, as they put it, but there’s nothing I can do. I eat a very robust, healthy, balanced diet. I eat dessert almost every night. But I’m on cancer medication. I’m doing the best that I can.”

Rancic hopes her explanation will quiet at least some of her critics and that the Zendaya incident and the threats it inspired will fade into the past as well. “People were sending me pictures of the barrel of a gun,” she recalls. “It was horrifying.” She apologized to Zendaya but says the joke she made about patchouli and weed – which she didn’t write herself – was taken out of context, so its true meaning was obscured. “It was a reference to hippie culture,” Rancic says. “I made peace signs, I said ‘boho’ twice. But that was edited [out]. I’d say there were 50 sets of eyeballs on-set that day, and not one person thought it had the [racist] undertones that it ended up having once it aired. I felt horrible.”

She’s looking forward to Fashion Police‘s return in the fall and insists there’s no bad blood between her and her former costars Kelly and Kathy. “Fashion Police without Joan [Rivers, who died in September] was difficult from episode one. It was never quite gelling. I really believe that it was only a matter of time before that specific show with that cast and that format fell apart.”

And she’s concentrating on enjoying her family. “Bill and I are so in love,” she says. “Every night we get on our knees and pray together, and it’s really nice.” Watching his wife endure the barrage of public criticism has been hard for Bill. “It’s been heartwrenching,” he says. “But she’s stronger than I ever imagined she would be.”

In fact, Rancic has retained an admirable perspective on life’s adversities. “I could easily get bogged down in a funk every day, especially with everything I’ve been through the last few years,” says Rancic, who still hopes to grow the family, perhaps through adoption. “But every morning I wake up and I make the choice to be happy. Everything I went through has gotten me to where I am today, and I love where I am today. I have an amazing husband and a beautiful baby. I have an incredible life.”

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