Beth Maitland’s up-and-down (on the bathroom scale) soap career is ending: The actress, who’s portrayed insecure and chubby Traci Abbott on “The Young and the Restless” for the last five years, will depart the show in May.

She wouldn’t comment on reports that her termination came by mail, but she talked candidly to us about her sometimes painful career on “Y&R.;”

“I was a size 14 when I was hired,” she said. “When you get a great job, you want to look your best. I lost 10 pounds and was told, ‘You can’t do that. We want to keep you the way you are.’ But no one told me I was hired because I was overweight.”

The producers initially wanted her heavy for a bulimia-angled story line, which generated an avalanche of mail and turned a three-month job into a long-term contract.

Then they put her on an exercise/weight program, tied to a dance-class plot line--"I lost about 10 or 15 pounds at that time.”


Next, they wanted her beefy for a new plot twist dealing with diet and sleeping pills.

Then the show’s writers got unmarried Traci pregnant--so the weight continued to stay on (all for nothing, since she miscarried in the script).

About a year and a half ago, “Y&R;” honchos gave her permission to diet as she pleased. Maitland hired a nutritionist and began working out at Gold’s Gym. She’s now a svelte size 8--down about 55 pounds.

Classically trained as a singer, she’s weighing an offer to perform with an Eastern symphony and said she’s up for a role for an ABC pilot.

Her experience on the show wasn’t as heavy as it might sound, Maitland insisted: “I won an Emmy for the role I originated at ‘Y&R.;’ I’m very proud of my work. I have several good friends from the show. I learned (acting) techniques in daytime. It was good steady work.

“I look toward the future with great vigor.”