Say What You Want About Kim Kardashian’s Crash Diet, But At Least She Was Honest About It

Making sacrifices in pursuit of an ideal look is so much bigger than Kim.

Kim Kardashian met gala

by Laura Antonia Jordan |

In case there was any doubt regarding Kim Kardashian’s status as the ultimate human headline generator, consider this: it’s been four days since the Met Gala, one of the starriest nights of the year, and all anyone’s been talking about is Kim. Her column inch takeover began before the event: what Kim was going to wear and how she was going to beat last year’s look? Then, post-match analysis about how she did exactly that by scoring Marilyn Monroe’s "Happy Birthday Mr. President" dress for the event. Oh, and there was also her newly bleached blonde hair to discuss. Kim, Kim, Kim; you can run, but if you have a WIFI connection, you cannot hide.

Drowning out all of that, however, is the noise around her revelation that she embarked on a strict weight loss regime to fit the dress. Specifically, she lost 16lbs in three weeks, as she told LaLa Anthony on the red carpet, stats I can reel off immediately without having to fact check them because they are now permanently branded onto my silly little animal brain.

There was, predictably and justifiably, a backlash around her admission. People were outraged. The prosecution’s charges were that she was glorifying sudden (read: dangerous) weight loss, promoting disordered eating, and normalising extreme dieting.

But Kardashian is not normalising it. She can’t, because it’s already normal. We are talking about it because we are, as a society, as obsessed with diets and bodies as we are with being outraged about them. Scarce are the women who haven’t at some point their lives cut carbs or cleansed or colonic-ed. I don’t think I’ve met one who has never once counted steps or calories, either with a specific goal in sight, like Kardashian (fitting into a $4.8million dress once worn by a movie icon for arguably the highest profile event of the year is admittedly niche, but lots of us have done it for holidays and weddings) or under the erroneous conviction that thinner = happier. Not you? Never been you? You’re lucky.

Kardashian’s real ‘crime’, I think, is that she dared to talk about her dieting and, by doing so, to exhibit an inherent pride in her achievement. But I am certain she was not the only woman at the Met Gala who painstakingly prepped for the big night. And I definitely don’t think she was the only one who dieted beforehand.

Kim Kardashian met gala
Kardashian in Marilyn Monroe's dress ©Getty

While I don’t applaud the weight loss, nor her means to get it, I do admire Kardashian for having the balls to be honest about what it took. We are still so sly, so secretive about embarking on any form of cosmetic self-improvement; we fear that by admitting to it we are being vapid, vain, unsisterly (the fact that she shattered the illusion that Marilyn Monroe was plus-size only amplifies this charge). Furthermore, beauty that is curated, that is acquired, is considered a less-than version than that arbitrarily bestowed upon us by nature.

There is something so deeply dishonest about the way we celebrate ‘natural’ beauty over anything we have deliberately, diligently, often desperately, pursued. Trust me, there are ‘naturally thin’ women you know who work for that every waking hour, who have made ‘being good’ around food – whatever that means to them – part of their daily routine. For them and, honestly, often for me, that deprivation is worth it to see a specific number on the scales. We just don’t admit it. At least not publicly.

By admitting to being ‘strict’, Kardashian was being frank about the sacrifices most of us must make to fit - fit in, fit the ideal, fit a dress. That can be boredom as much as anything. When the actor Kumail Nanjiani got ripped for his Eternals role, he thanked his wife Emily V Gordon for ‘for putting up with me complaining and talking about only working out and dieting for the last year. I promise I’ll be interesting again some day’. If you know the costs required to pursue a specific body type, it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.

Double standards persist in how we judge bodies, and celebrity body transformations. Most obviously there’s the gender divide: a man who shreds for a movie can be a superhero on-screen and off. There is also a class issue. We are broadly, rightfully, in agreement that it’s gross to shame people for how they look, then publicly willing to lambast Love Island types for their ‘fake’ image. I think there is, ironically, something honest, guileless about the blatant artifice of all that. So many of us are quietly nipping, tucking, tweaking, contouring and, yes, dieting our way to our own perceived ideal but, wrap it up with a cut glass voice and a pared-down style, and nobody has a problem with it. Actually, nobody even notices.

For me, it’s the the quiet diets, the stealth work, and the no-makeup-makeup, that is ultimately more damaging. When you think that everyone else ‘woke up like this’, you start to believe that there is something wrong with the behind-closed-doors, private self that you wake up with every morning and will do for the rest of your life.

Of course, Kardashian could have said nothing. But she is a piece of performance art, her image is her (very valuable) currency, her bottom a billion-dollar brand. I am shocked that we are shocked she did so. It’s not the player we should hate, but the game.

When discussing weight, size, and shape, it is near impossible to separate our perceptions of our own bodies from what dominates the zeitgeist. Today, Kardashian - whose job is literally to influence - occupies disproportionate space in the public imagination. In 2022, the media - fashion, film, music, TV, and so on - is still overwhelmingly dominated by thinness. Acknowledging that is not the same as approving of it.

I first dieted as a child in the '90s, and I wonder if what I consider to be my own ideal weight today would not be higher had I not been force fed images of very, very thin women when I was growing up. It is impossible to know but I will tell you this: I do have a number, one which is either taunting or tantalising depending on how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ I have been that week. That is exhausting, it is sad, and it is not right, but I have come to accept that it will take more than one celebrity crash-dieting her way into a dress to sway me in or out of it.

With a public profile as enormous as Kardashian’s it’s easy to assume that by lending her voice to anything – be that a crash diet or vintage Gucci thongs – is implicit promotion of it. Perhaps that’s the fair price of admission to the huge privilege she enjoys. But what a weight to put on one woman. I'm not sure we're all as impressionable or susceptible to specific celebrities as the crash diet backlash suggests. I might be wrong, but most women - women engaged in their own private interrogations over their looks - are no more likely to do an extreme diet because Kim did than they are to bleach their hair for a night. Ultimately, it’s down to personal choice whether you take what she says and does and weighs as diktats about How to Live or just part of the act.

Gallery

SEE: All The Red Carpet Looks From The Met Gala 2022

Blake Lively Ryan Reynolds Met Gala
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Rachel Smith Met Gala
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Vanessa Hudgens Met Gala
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Emma Chamberlain Met Gala
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Anna Wintour Met Gala
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Elizabeth Cordry Shaffer Met Gala
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Wendi Murdoch Met Gala
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Melissa King Met Gala
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Amirah Kassem Met Gala
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Adrienne Adams Met Gala
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Caroline Wozniacki Met Gala
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Tom Ford Met Gala
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Paapa Essiedu Met Gala
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Jon Batiste Met Gala
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Jordan Roth Met Gala
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Maude Apatow Met Gala
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Anderson .Paak Met Gala
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Evan Mock Met Gala
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Mindy Kaling Met Gala
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Chloe Kim Met Gala
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Michelle Yeoh Met Gala
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Stromae Met Gala
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Ashley Park Met Gala
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Venus Williams Met Gala
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Agnes Chu Met Gala
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Camila Cabello Met Gala
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Ashton Sanders Met Gala
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Emma Stone Met Gala
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Chlou00eb Grace Moretz Met Gala
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Tracey Collins Met Gala
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Renate Reinsve Met Gala
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Sarah Jessica Parker Met Gala
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Phoebe Dynevor Met Gala
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Julie Dash Met Gala
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Grace Elizabeth Met Gala
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Laura Harrier Met Gala
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Riz Ahmed Met Gala
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Glenn Close Met Gala
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Stephen Jones Amy Fine Collins Met Gala
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Georgina Chapman Met Gala
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Huma Abedin Met Gala
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Hillary Clinton Met Gala
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Claire Danes Met Gala
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Teyana Taylor Met Gala
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Precious Lee Met Gala
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Caroline Trentini Met Gala
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Hugh Jackman Deborra-Lee Furness Met Gala
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Julianne Moore Met Gala
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Rachel Brosnahan Met Gala
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Tessa Thompson Met Gala
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Taylor Hill Met Gala
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Kate Moss Met Gala
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Cara Delevingne Met Gala
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Kendall Jenner Met Gala
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