tv 2020 ABC December 27, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm PST
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tonight on 20/20, mirror mirror, it's america's number one new year's resolution, losing weight. but how far would you go? >> you are sewing a foreign object into somebody's mouth. >> the latest diet craze or just crazy? the tongue patch. >> my tongue hurts talking about this. >> i think it's ridiculous. >> hold your tongue. afraid of the mirror after all those holiday deserts. >> i don't get that. >> i'm surprised. >> you look great. >> i'll take your word for it. >> all to see what she looks like on the inside. not the outside. >> by the way, i can see myself.
>> no mirrors. plus don't hate her, because she's beautiful. >> melissa. >> her only crime was looking too good. >> fired for being too tempting to her dentist boss. >> so you're responsible for your boss to control himself. >> too hot to work? tonight, diet, resolution, and everything you need to look in the mirror mirror. here's david muir. >> you heard the saying mirror mirror on the wall who's the fairest of them all, two days after christmas and the holiday meals you might avoid the mirror thinking of those resolutions already. tonight one of the craziest diets we've heard of, one where you literally hold your tongue. here now cecilia vega. >> reporter: from the surgical -- think liposuction, stomach stapling and the lap-band. to scary -- like the cotton-ball diet. >> i've heard of people eating the cotton balls with the orange juice. and it makes you think you're full but you're not.
>> reporter: to the downright disgusting. that's not a jar of noodles. it's the main ingredient in the tapeworm diet. >> everybody looks like they want to vomit right now. >> reporter: you dine out, while the parasite dines in your digestive tract. there's seemingly no limit to the lengths people will go to lose it. and if you thought the story we brought you last year about the feeding tube diet was extreme? >> i'm down two dress sizes. >> reporter: well, wait till you see this. >> i'm determined to lose weight. >> i'm willing to do anything at this point, i'm so desperate to lose the weight. >> reporter: these two women are about to have a piece of hard plastic mesh sewn onto their tongues. it will inflict pain if they try to eat any solid food. marlene beltran weighs 169 pounds because of her out-of-control appetite. >> i get, like, cravings, honestly. sometimes in the middle of the night i'll just be like, "oh, i want a brownie" or "i want ice cream." i'm just really motivated
because i am almost 21, and i do have plans and i want to look my best and feel good. >> i love eating everything. >> reporter: lysander lanuza is 200 pounds of all-you-can-eat. >> american food, filipino food, korean. it's heaven. >> reporter: their goal is to each lose 20 pounds in one month. marlene wants to begin dating. lysander has a bikini and a deadline. >> in a month's time i'll be going to hawaii, and i'll be wearing this bikini, and i'll -- hopefully i'll be looking great. >> this is our patch and there it is. and we put it right on the anterior portion of her tongue. >> reporter: it's called the tongue patch. cosmetic surgeon dr. nikolas chugay introduced the procedure in the u.s. four years ago, after first seeing it done in latin america. >> i thought, you know, this is a good way to help people lose weight quickly. our first stitch is already in. i am just going to put four knots on it. make sure it stays in there. >> he said the way it works was,
if you eat solid food, your tongue rolls back and it would cause pain. >> reporter: chugay says lysander is his 81st patient as he pioneers the process here, in what is arguably the plastic surgery capital of the country, southern california. but, that's nothing compared to body-conscious venezuela. one clinic in caracas has stitched patches on more than 800 tongues. is the goal of the tongue patch so that your tongue hurts when you swallow food? >> it's a pattern interrupt. when patients want to swallow food, they realize, "hey, i cannot do that." that's why i have this patch here. so it reminds them. >> reporter: but, you're sewing a foreign object into somebody's mouth. is that healthy? >> well, it's not unhealthy. okay, the surgery's all finished. wow! >> i can't feel my tongue. >> reporter: she'll be able to
speak normally in a few hours when the anesthetic wears off. but, all that greasy fried food she loves? forget it. it's a strict 800-calorie per-day liquid diet of bad shakes and lo-cal beverages until the patch is removed in one month. how much weight are you guaranteed to lose with a tongue patch? i can't say you are guaranteed but an average weight loss is anywhere from 18 to 20 pounds. >> reporter: 18 to 20 pounds, at a cost of $2,000. seem hard to swallow? maybe. lysander is paying full price. but dr. chugay is doing marlene's procedure for free because we are recording it. >> i was told that food gets stuck on the patch too, so even if you want to cheat a little, you get caught. >> reporter: my tongue hurts just talking about this! >> no, i'm not nervous about the pain or anything. i'm kind of excited.
>> reporter: marlene is more concerned about organizing all the clothes she hopes to soon be able to wear. okay, so these are all jeans. let me see. >> they're still brand new. >> reporter: they have tags on. did you buy them thinking you were going to fit into these at some point? >> yeah. i did, and then once they didn't fit i was just like, i'll lose weight. but that never happened. >> you ready? >> mm-hmm. >> all right. stick your tongue out for us. good. perfect. >> reporter: dr. chugay reminds her that, as of now, she's on that same low calorie, liquid diet. >> and, three times a day you start taking that, okay? >> mm-hmm. >> and no cheating. no twinkies. >> mm-mm. >> reporter: after only 10 minutes, the patch is in place. >> good girl! all done. >> reporter: what's it feel like? >> i can't talk! >> reporter: it was quick. >> i can't feel it. >> reporter: have you ever received any flak from colleagues in the medical community for this? >> no, i haven't.
>> reporter: dr. chugay, meet dr. christine petti. >> i think it's ridiculous. >> reporter: and dr. rob huizenga. >> i think it's a barbaric procedure. >> she's also a plastic surgeon. i could never advise a procedure that would cause a patient pain. pain is not a good thing for anybody. >> reporter: better known as "dr. h," he specializes in long-term weight- loss, spending fourteen seasons as an expert on "the biggest loser." >> this is so primitive an approach. you could hire somebody to hold a gun to your head and threaten to shoot you every time you eat. you could have somebody with a hammer hit you over the head every time you threaten to have something to eat. >> reporter: would you do this on your own body? >> i would. >> reporter: you haven't done it on any of your family members have you? >> well so far i have no volunteers. >> reporter: when we come back -- what is it like, living with a
hard plastic patch stitched to your tongue? >> reporter: 30 days on america's most extreme diet. >> reporter: cheeseburger. i don't care if it's a bite. i just want a burger. >> reporter: will one of these women wish they had never done it? and will the weight come off? stay with us. the results may surprise you. ♪ over a thousand styles, hundreds of fits, dozens of washes, and one very happy you. sears has the brands you love. so you found a few? yeah, a few. and now get an extra 15% off. plus members get 15% in points. this is the jean scene. sears. every weekend worked, every idea sold... ♪ ...you deserve a cadillac, the fastest growing full-line luxury brand
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20/20 continues. once again cecilia vega. >> reporter: they say no pain no gain. but this is turning that phrase on its tongue. two overweight women who can't control their eating going to extremes to lose weight fast. a stiff plastic patch, stitched right to their tongues will inflict a sharp pain if they try to eat any solid food. >> i feel good. my tongue is still swollen so i can't talk. it doesn't fit me any more.
>> reporter: lysander and marlene each hope to drop 20 pounds in 30 days. tracking the difficult diet in video diaries along the way. for lysander, day one brings an immediate challenge. >> so this is what my mom cooked for breakfast which i obviously can't eat. >> reporter: instead -- >> i'm trying to do my exercise i'm doing it right now. >> reporter: she cheerfully begins the requisite 45-minute daily exercise routine. but, lysander's social life is all about food and day one brings another temptation. >> this is my first dinner out with friends. >> reporter: she sips iced tea while her friends gorge on a buffet. >> today is father's day and this is what we have to eat. >> barbecue. fish. >> and i can't eat any of that so i'll drink this diet pepsi.
>> reporter: so far so good. but across town, marlene has a craving for just about everything. >> it's crazy because i don't like beans never liked them won't eat them. but just looking at these beans made my mouth water. >> reporter: by day five this food junkie has a bad need for a fix. >> lately i've been craving an in-n-out burger like really bad and i want a burger really bad a cheeseburger, cheeseburger. i don't care if it's a bite. i just want a burger. >> reporter: somehow, marlene resists her cravings. lysander not so much. >> i tried, like, a piece of popcorn. we were at the movie theater. and it hurt. so, i'm like, "forget it!" >> reporter: the popcorn hurt? >> yeah. >> reporter: and are you thinking, "yes, this is working. i don't wanna eat." >> no. i'm like [ bleep ] it does work. i can't eat." >> reporter: dr. nikolas chugay claims the miracle of the tongue patch is that it can act as a jump-start to lasting weight loss.
>> it's really a life-changing type of a pattern. and, it takes about thirty days to change a habit. >> reporter: a small patch that can be life-changing. >> life-changing. exactly. >> if i could say one thing, it's that the whole concept that you jump-start is absurd. >> reporter: weight-loss expert dr. rob huizenga points to studies that show how most extreme dieters who lose weight rapidly eventually gain it all back and more. >> there's not one scintilla of hope or evidence that putting a patch on your tongue and not being able to eat for a month is going to have any effect on you at one year, or two years or three years. dr. chugay's son and partner did a study claiming 70% of their patients lost an average of 16 pounds and kept it off for eight months. the american journal of cosmetic surgery has approved his findings for publication. marlene doesn't need a study to convince her.
she's getting the data she needs from her bathroom scales as the pounds fall away. >> my arms are a lot thinner. >> reporter: lysander is watching the pounds melt away. >> so far, i lost 15, 16 pounds. >> i'm getting a lot more attention from guys, which is nice. it's attention i'm not used to. i'm still adjusting to it. >> reporter: finally, liberation day. >> that's it. >> it's liberating. >> yes. isn't that liberating. now, that wasn't so bad. >> reporter: the final tally, marlene loses 18 pounds. remember those skinny jeans she couldn't wear before? >> they are kind of big on me. >> reporter: lysander loses 23 pounds, and that bikini she wouldn't dare try on before,
aloha lysander. >> we put them on a boot camp diet. it's a strict diet for another month. and then i prepare them for the regular maintenance diet, that they will stay on the rest of their lives. >> reporter: or not. as hard as it was to live with the tongue patch, will it be even harder to keep the weight off without it? >> i was sad the patch was coming off, because i felt like the hard part began. now i'm on my own. >> really, i don't want to go through that again. it was really hard for me. it is an extreme measure of losing weight. >> reporter: you do think it's extreme? >> i do. >> reporter: is it crazy? >> yes. i think it is. comparable to the other diets that i know, yes, it is. >> reporter: clearly, lysander, who paid $2,000 for her tongue patch is not nearly as happy as the person who got it for free marlene. >> it wasn't bad. >> reporter: look at you. you're smiling. >> i like -- i would do it again. >> the tongue patch is like,
kind of addicting. and, like, you lose the weight and you see the results fast and you want more. >> and cecilia tells us marlene maintained her weight loss and lysander has lost an additional 12 pounds. so the question for you tonight, would you undergo the tongue patch? don't hold your tongue, tweelt me what you think use the hashtag abc 20/20, and we'll be right back. >> announcer: next, fired for being too tempting to her dentist boss. >> this is a woman who did nothing to get herself fired except bring her breasts to work. >> announcer: is he happy, when we tracked him down? honors chris and craig's texts on our new network. think you'll go out tonight? probably not. but, maybe. i'm kinda tired. but i also kinda wanna go out. me too. well, text me if you do. k. but i probably won't. but i might.
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across from him. here's paula faris. >> reporter: well, the cat's out of the bag. the beautiful get all the breaks, the pretty get all the perks and the gorgeous get all the gigs. >> look at the waitresses. >> reporter: it really ticked off elaine in this classic "seinfeld" episode when she thought this diner would only hire well endowed waitresses. >> you know what? that's discriminatory. >> reporter: turns out it wasn't lookism. it was nepotism. >> they are my daughters. >> oh. >> reporter: beauty bias cuts both ways. >> i was fired because my boss thought i was too attractive. >> reporter: which brings us to fort dodge, iowa, and fields of opportunities. america's heart land for some twisted matters of the heart. >> all she wanted to do was be a dental assistant. >> steve is melissa's high
school sweetheart. they are married with two children. >> she job shadowed there, everything fell into place. she loved her job. >> reporter: 34 yeerltd melissa was the dental assistant for dr. james knight, by the dentist's side eight hours a day. for a decade. >> it was a fun working environment. >> reporter: how did you view dr. knight? >> i viewed him as a father figure. as a dad. >> reporter: he was your mentor, right? >> very much so. >> reporter: how much did the two of you get. >> when we had both of our kids he and his wave came into the hospital. >> reporter: it was all a gas until the doctor started pulling more than teeth. he hit 50 and was working out, pumping iron and getting buff. >> he became more confidence and more outgoing. >> reporter: do you think he was going through a midlife crisis. >> that's the only thing i can come up with. >> reporter: the two had a friendly relationship, trading personal text messages during off hours. but then, melissa says, it went
from cordial to creepy. >> reporter: he would ask me about my personal life. he would ask me how often i would have sex. >> reporter: and melissa says when she answered and implied not that often, the dentist offered this artful analogy -- "that's like having a lamborghini in the garage and never driving it." and he warned his mentee -- "if you see my pants bulging, you'll know your clothes are too revealing." this was melissa's standard issue scrub suit uniform, and occasionally on humid days, her lab coat was removed, revealing her 5'1" frame and a simple crew neck t-shirt. >> sorry. i'm a squirter, dale. >> reporter: it seemed to us strikingly similar to this scene from the movie "horrible bosses." >> oh, look. shalom. someone is circumcised. >> reporter: did you flirt with
him? >> no. >> reporter: so there's no attraction? >> absolutely not. >> reporter: did you do anything to lead him on? >> never. >> reporter: you must've done something. >> i don't know what. i showed up for work every day. >> reporter: melissa says she brushed off her boss' comments for sixth months, hoping they would stop. but things came to a head when there was an exchange during nonbusiness hours. the dentist's wife caught them texting each other while he was on vacation and made sure it would end. >> his wife came in with a purple folder and just sat it on his desk and walked out without saying anything. >> reporter: thus began a day at this dentist's office with more discomfort than a string of scheduled root canals. talk about intervention -- dr. knight even brought in his local pastor. >> i found later that it was his minister from church. >> reporter: it's his pastor, it's you and it's your boss. >> yes. the three of us sitting in the office.
>> reporter: did you think, "what the heck is going on?" >> absolutely. i had no idea why i was in there. >> reporter: and in that purple folder? a pink slip. >> dr. knight said i couldn't work in the office because he was becoming attracted to me and not able to focus on his family and his family life. >> reporter: what was your reaction to this? he can't control himself? >> i instantly broke down in tears. all i remember is just sitting there and not able to get up, telling him that i love my job. >> reporter: melissa's husband rushed to the dentist's office. >> i said, "what's going on. is there a mistake?" he said, "i got feelings for your wife and it's affecting my family." and he felt the best option to save his marriage was to terminate missy. he told me several times, "i want you to know, steve, that your wife has done nothing wrong." >> when he said he didn't feel like he could control himself, and that an affair might start down the road, what was your reaction? >> i'm like, that's absurd.
why would those thoughts even cross his mind? this is my wife. why is he thinking of her as an object? and it infuriated me. >> reporter: dr. knight offered melissa a month's severance for ten years of stellar work. melissa vowed to fight tooth and nail. >> the good news for the court this might be the easiest case you have all year. >> reporter: when we come back, how melissa decided to retaliate in a court of law. >> this was a woman, who did nothing to get herself fired except bring her breasts to work. >> reporter: the dentist's surprising defense. and as an orthodontist might say, brace yourself, because you may not believe where else she took her case. >> open up and say, melissa. >> reporter: stay with us.
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month's severance, after 10 years simply because the 54-year-old dentist she worked for found her irresistibly attractive and a threat to his marriage. >> i'm sure you remember the song, i'm too sexy, it's possible it's possible to be too sexy for your job. what was life like when you were working for him? >> it was good. i was home with my kids every night. we had just bought some land and i made the first payment and lost my job two days later. >> i've read lots of comments of people who say good for him, at least he was honest. a lot of men would have just slept with her. >> reporter: paige fiedler is melissa's attorney. >> i can assure you there is about a snowball's chance in hell that would have happened. >> reporter: seeking damages and lost, pay melissa took her cause to the iowa district court in august 2010 and filed a gender discrimination suit against dr. james knight. but the judge dismissed the case before trial. >> i was hurt. i think more than anything i was hurt.
>> reporter: dr. knight declined our repeated requests for an interview. but his attorney told abc news, "she was not terminated because of her gender, but to preserve the best interest of his marriage." >> we had admission after admission after admission from the defendant himself that her sex played a part in his decision. >> reporter: so last december melissa appealed to the iowa supreme court. >> we are not allowed to discriminate against someone by what god made them. having breasts is pretty closely connected to being a woman. >> reporter: but the seven justices ruled that although the one month's severance was rather ungenerous, terminating an employee is okay, "simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction." especially since the wife felt her marriage was threatened so you're responsible for your boss, who can't control himself. >> that's kind of what the
supreme court has led us to believe. >> i don't think the law is out of touch. i mean, this guy is a jerk. but being a jerk is not illegal. >> reporter: ilya shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the free market cato institute. >> you can fire someone for being tall, for being short, for cheering for the wrong team -- >> reporter: but you t be fired if you're part of a protected class, such as gender, race or religion. still, shapiro says, melissa's case is not about gender. he's a man. she's a woman. he's attracted to her. how is that not a gender issue? >> she was fired because he felt that their relationship was affecting his marriage. >> reporter: all he has to do was control himself. how hard could that be? >> he feared that if he kept her on that he might start harassing her. >> reporter: he might start harassing her? he said, "how often do you have orgasms," and, "if you see a bulge in my pants, it's because your clothes are too tight."
>> well, it's inappropriate. but she didn't complain. >> reporter: the court agreed. but in the court of public opinion, the ruling surprised and stung. her only crime was looking too good. >> bosses can legally fire any employee they see as an irresistible attraction >> if a man is saying that a woman is so irresistible that he's afraid he will sexually offend against her, what does that say about women in the military? what does that say about -- about equality in any workplace? >> reporter: rekha basu wrote a scathing column for iowa's "des moines register" calling the seven male justice's decision embarrassing. >> i think a female justice, working through her own first-hand experience and perspective, would have had a different take on it. >> reporter: melissa filed yet another appeal and, in a surprise this summer, perhaps because of the public outcry -- >> he needs a little novocain in mr. happy.
>> reporter: the high court agreed to reconsider their earlier ruling -- a rare occurrence. but the same seven judges came up with the same ruling and clarified that you can be fired, "because the boss's spouse views the relationship as a threat to her marriage." melissa is out of legal options. she thinks it's laughable a jury of her peers will never get to decide if she was wronged, so naturally -- she brought her case to comedy central. >> if melissa wants to clean teeth, she shouldn't have to worry about her boss's dirty mind. that's why i invited her to give me an oral exam in hollywood, where women are never objectified. >> reporter: this is the standard issue scrub suit and lab coat she wore to work. but this is the outfit she wore on "tosh.o." >> open up and say -- >> good for her. i think it was her way of saying how ridiculous these allegations about her were.
>> he called you the best dental assistant he ever had. why haven't you got back into the industry? >> i think my biggest fear is trusting someone. trusting somebody that i have to work that close to. i wouldn't want to be hurt again. >> reporter: so, the former dental assistant traded in sunny smiles for bronzed bodies working as the salon director at a tanning salon by day and waiting tables at a sports bar by night. >> it's not an easy job. very demanding. always on your feet. >> reporter: do you ever see dr. knight around town? >> no. i see his lawyer. he comes and eats at the restaurant that i work at. and i could either pick my head up and go with it, or i can walk away with my tail between my legs. and i'm not going to let that happen. was that dentist courageous
for protecting his marriage? or does she deserve her job back? tweet me. we'll be right back. >> announcer: next, how a teenage obsession with looks led to a big cover up. >> and i just thought to myself get rid of mirrors. >> covering up mirrors for an entire year. >> it was like a 50-50 shot. but i had mascara on my nose. >> even on your wedding day. could you do it? [ male announcer ] for every late night, every weekend worked, every idea sold... ♪ ...you deserve a cadillac, the fastest growing full-line luxury brand in the united states. including the all new 2014 cadillac cts, motor trend's 2014 car of the year. get the best offers of the season on our award winning products. like a 2014 ats and srx. hurry in, offers end january 2nd.
check it out. learning's fun now. yeah, back in our day, we didn't have u-verse high speed internet to play and learn online. all we had was that franklin fuzzypants. ah, the educational toy bear. remember when the battery went out? [ slow, deep voice ] give me your abc's. all i learned was a new definition of fear. i need some pudding. yeah, there's one left. [ male announcer ] connect all your wi-fi-enabled devices with u-verse high speed internet. rethink possible.
if you've been stay agway from the mirror giving yourself a break after those holiday meals and get togethers, perhaps you're on to something, tonight the woman who gave up looking in the mirror for a year. robin roberts with a real eye opener. >> i'm going to get up. >> reporter: 29 year old kjerstin gruys is living her life mirror-free. her morning begins with the typical teeth brushing, but a curtain oscures the view. makeup is applied by instinct
alone. >> that's pretty much it. >> reporter: driving to work requires quick glances in the mirrors, but peeking at her own face is not allowed. >> i just put a post it note over it as a reminder. >> reporter: in a world obsessed with image, kjerstin is obsessed with its opposite. she's decided not to look into a mirror not for a day, not a month, but for an entire year. >> reporter: i gotta tell you, say, it takes a lot of nerve, you're on national television, and you have not looked in a mirror? >> i'm curious about what i look like! i have no idea what my haircut looks. >> reporter: you look great. >> i'll take your word for it. >> reporter: it's an unusual experiment, an attempt, she says, to save her self esteem. she's in the process of wedding planning, the day brides hope to be at their most beautiful. but to avoid fixating on perfection, six months before her wedding, kjerstin launched her project "a year without mirrors" documented in her book "mirror mirror off the wall." for kjerstin, mirrors are a
reminder of not living up to an ideal standard. >> there aren't a lot of, you know, beauty role models who are, um, you know, above a size four or six. i'm roughly a size ten. >> reporter: insecurities about her appearance have plagued her since high school, when she developed an eating disorder. >> i was afraid i wouldn't find someone to, you know, love me unless i was perfect. >> reporter: didn't you have some, some real health issues because of your disorder? >> yes, i had kidney stones five times, and the lack of body fat started affecting my bone density. i really needed to get help, um, because i didn't want to live like that. >> reporter: with years of therapy, kjerstin successfully overcame her eating disorder. she became a phd student in sociology. and in 2009, she met the man of her dreams, michael. but the thrill of romance lost
its luster during her wedding dress shopping, which resurrected those old anxieties. >> i saw myself in the mirror, um, and was being critical. >> reporter: some triggers were going off or -- >> i just kind of kept coming back to obsessing about my appearance, and i thought maybe i need to change something about my environment, um, to force me to change. and i just thought to myself, get rid of mirrors. >> reporter: first step, kjerstin transformed her apartment into a mirror free zone. >> there is only one mirror and it's in a huge box. >> it wasn't really until a couple weeks in that i started realizing, like, what have i signed on for? >> the first month of the project. when i was walking out the door, it was maybe like a 50-50 shot that i had mascara on my nose. >> reporter: kjerstin does have help at the hair salon. >> it looks great. fabulous. >> reporter: but she can't see the end result.
>> can i touch it? >> reporter: she says she's trained herself to avoid eye contact with her own image. >> by the way, i can see myself in your sunglasses! >> reporter: there are a lot of people that are saying, "oh. come on. there are certain things you gotta look in the mirror to do. >> i kind of see myself out of the corner of my eye every day because reflective surfaces are everywhere. but i don't look. >> reporter: some people who would say that not looking in the mirror isn't really dealing with deep down the obvious issues that you must have. do you feel that you're really facing them head on? >> i think this is the most head on i've ever faced them. because i'm not looking in the mirror, um, i think a lot more about how i feel than how i look. >> reporter: but the biggest challenge by far is the wedding day. what bride can resist the temptation to see themselves on their big day? but kjerstin was resolute. >> reporter: bridesmaids scurried to shield the mirrors from view. and while kjerstin had help with her hair --
>> your hair looks really cute. >> thank you. >> reporter: -- unbelievably, she did her own makeup. >> if i feel the brush up here it's in the right spot you know, bronzer down here. >> reporter: then the moment all brides dream of the sight of their own magnificent reflection in the mirror. for kjerstin, it was a sight unseen. >> i don't get that "ah" in the mirror. i'm a bride! but i don't have any regrets about not seeing myself on my wedding day. i think i look good. >> i now pronounce you husband and wife. >> reporter: when the experiment finally came to an end. it was 12 months of no reflection, which left plenty of time for reflection. >> thank you all for sharing the spirit of this event which is about body positivity. >> reporter: surrounded by friends and family, she stands in front of a mirror covered by messages of encouragement -- >> you're my best friend and my hero. >> reporter: -- and sees herself for the first time in a year.
>> you guys look great. >> so do you! >> reporter: she says she likes what she sees, a stronger woman with a year's worth of well-earned wisdom. >> has this process -- has it helped you? >> it has. it really has. it's kind of opened up a new way of thinking about myself as a whole instead of just my looks. >> reporter: she says she no longer seeks the perfect image in the looking glass. instead, she trusts another vision of herself. >> when he sees me, he doesn't think about the things he wants to change. he just sees the things that he loves. it's wonderful. >> announcer: next, move over charlie's angels, there are new angels in town.
it's the season for holiday giving, but what happens when there's giving fatigue? tonight, turning not to charlie's angels but charity's angels. chris connelly with the new bosses saying, good morning angels. >> reporter: seaside marina del ray, ever a magnet for l.a.'s affluent ready to dress up and raise a glass on an evening out. no surprise that mingling with the well-heeled is a high-heeled gaggle of gorgeous young women for whom this gathering of the
wealthy is a target-rich environment. but they aren't looking for a hot car or home in the hills. they're after these rich guys' wallets, not to do well, but to do good. there's christina at the front. kristen at the board. lindsay, too. >> one for 100, two for 150, and three for 200. >> reporter: and this is a benefit for charity, so they're in sell mode. while rockin' their je ne sais quoi, noodging these once-reluctant donors to hand over their precious credit cards and give till it hurts so good. do they really get these attendees to dig a little deeper? oh, yeah. what, in particular, led you to make such a generous donation a moment ago? >> i'm a sucker for a pretty face. >> reporter: a trio of crusading glamour goddesses, fighting for what's right. remind you of anything? but these aren't charlie's angels.
they're the charity angels. accelerated-fundraising sirens for hire. putting to work their iqs, their tlc and their lbds. >> i don't think the approach would be quite the same if we came in some overalls and a hard hat. but we could, i mean, it might be a cute look. >> reporter: prying open, like oysters, those bountiful billfolds and putting the ahh in not-for-profit. >> as you can see, all of the charity angels are beautiful on the exterior. but they are far more beautiful on the interior than you could ever possibly imagine. >> reporter: they're beautiful, they're brilliant, and they work for her. >> angels. >> hello, mellissa. go to the beverly hills hotel to raise money for the children's hospital of los angeles. >> reporter: model turned philanthropic powerhouse mellisa nielsen. in 10 years she's guided her charity angels concept to a $10 million gross, while amping
up many benefits' bottom lines. by what percentage can you increase what they would normally make at a fundraiser? >> 60 to 100%. >> reporter: not 10, not 20 but 60%? >> yes 60 to 100%. >> reporter: so how'd you like this knowledge that she brought? melissa pays each of her angels a flat rate of $30 an hour. she rocks 150 benefits a year. >> the charity angels are walking around now. open your wallets. i want to get to know them. >> are you looking at that person like you're looking at me now? i feel my hand going for my wallet as you speak. >> give me your wallet. i'll spend your money. >> reporter: don't confuse these girls i didn't know you could get down like that independent women booth babes. those, so do you come with that car convention center cutey pies who are ogled but not heard. >> no. i don't want to number that light. >> reporter: not everyone has
gotten the memo. like on the golf course. we have a lakers game two tickets to that with apple ipad. >> when something is pretty or looks nice, people are interested. >> she doesn't have to do anything except stand there and look as gorgeous as she is. and she knows i melt to jelly and open my wallet. >> reporter: appreciative banter comes with their "asking for money" missions. but while all angels have wings, they also have "whoa, tiger" limits. what if they ask for an email address or a phone number from one of your angels? >> absolutely not. we don't date our clients. >> reporter: well, if somebody asks for a hug? >> i hug everyone, i'm from texas. >> biggest huggers ever. >> you don't even have to ask. >> yeah. >> we just -- we smile. >> hi! >> reporter: somebody asks for a little kiss? >> um. >> no. >> no. >> unless it's a sweet old lady. >> reporter: her company's not paid on commission. yet, at zero hour, no one closes out a benefit like melissa does.
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