When I was 23, I lost a stone and a half in two months. Maybe if you've had your heart broken, you've experienced this too: feeling so emotionally - and physically - nauseous that you can't sleep, think straight and eating sinks right to the bottom of the pile of your priorities until your friends are shovelling polenta fries into your mouth in Pizza Express (I'm not exaggerating: this happened).
But we live, unfortunately, in a society where weight loss is venerated. And so when a woman loses one or two stone, it's been hammered into us to congratulate her as though it's the ultimate compliment. The reality can be very different: weight loss does not always equal healthy, and we know it can be indicative of depression and stress - so why do we keep applauding it?
Earlier this week, Chloe Sims (she of the glossy hair and toffee-tanned limbs) opened up for the first time about the tumultuous ending of her relationship with TOWIE's Dan Edgar after he 'humiliated' her in front of the nation. The two ignited a relationship after their 6-year-long platonic friendship when Dan, 29 ended his two-year relationship with fellow former-TOWIE cast member Amber Turner.
As a result: Chloe fell foul of the toxic 'other woman' narrative and became the whipping-boy for online abuse. While Joey Essex, Chloe's cousin and Dan's close friend was irate, the insults aimed at Chloe were dialled up online, speaking the The Sun she revealed 'The abuse I got every single day was ‘desperate, plastic slag. ugly"
Despite a longstanding close friendship with Dan Edgar, their relationship only lasted a few weeks after the couple got together in Thailand and he ricocheted back to Amber Turner, confessing that he felt he'd made a mistake and asking her to take him back. Chloe said 'He is not a bad person but the way he has gone about it and let the public think of me, I feel like he destroyed nine years of me building myself up to be transparent on TV. I feel like he might as well have got a bulldozer.'
It's bad enough going through a break-up where you feel humiliated, betrayed and portrayed to be the villain: but to experience it in the public eye, and under amplified criticism and scrutiny is something that when we reflect on our own experiences of heartbreak seems unthinkable.
When you're busy trying to drag yourself out from under the duvet - who would want to throw in trolls on Instagram, critics on Twitter and headlines dragging out every painful detail that you're trying to process yourself? Chloe confessed 'I don’t care how strong you are. I lost nearly two stone. I was so skinny. It drove me mad. It was awful.'
Of course: the weight loss was the headline that the tabloids went for praising her 'incredible figure'. But shouldn't we be more responsible about headlines focussing on weight loss accompanying celeb break-ups? Weight gain and loss is a toxic metric to put against a woman going through an emotional trauma and the wrong narrative to perpetuate. Whether your weight goes up or down after the end of a relationship isn't directly related to how 'successfully' you're coming out the other side: but it's too often reported in that way, becoming another micro-agression women experience in the media in the process.
I was lucky to have friends around me who worried about me when my weight plummeted following my own break-up, and it was their support and patience that helped me to collect the threads of my pride. But it was stress, depression and chronic anxiety (squirming stomachs and sickness every time that familiar face pops up on your feed) that had caused me to arrive there in the first place.
Similarly, we know that when this year's Love Islander Amy Hart was under extreme psychological stress in the villa (she also attended 12 therapy sessions in the fallout of a textbook gaslighting from Curtis Pritchard) the producers of the show resorted to force feeding her, when she was only eating a bowl of cherries for lunch and in the evening. You only had to tune into her tearful goodbye before exiting the villa, or catch a glimpse of her tear-stained face to understand that she was mentally vulnerable.
So while we're giving so much airtime to how much weight a woman loses in a public break-up it should never be ignored that extreme weight changes often go hand in hand with depression, stress and anxiety: which are often conditions that are more dangerous, more difficult to treat and harder to erase in the long term.
On another note if you're reading this Chloe: we're on your team and hope things get better soon.