Drop Dead Gorgeous
CHLOE MASHITER on fashionable, fad diets.
It’s comforting to know that the Daily Mail continues to be a beacon of respected journalism, bringing important issues to the nation’s attention. Okay, I know: talk about people in glass houses. I know I’m like someone with a motorized boulder-catapult inside the London gherkin. But, I still fail to see how Naomi Campbell’s latest stint on the ‘master cleanse’ diet (maple syrup + cayenne pepper + lemon juice + water = yum) actually qualifies as news.
The story, stripped down to its most important bits, is this: supermodel starves self and loses weight. Shocker. It’s a piece of journalism that screams ‘if you’re thin then you win at life!’ whilst overlooking the morbidly literal tone diets like this give to the phrase ‘drop dead gorgeous’. Fad diets come and go so fast, that I can assert with confidence that any diet that was invented over a month ago is now unfashionable. Currently, for instance, we are advised to eat fourteen portions of baby food a day. I can only assume this is called the match-your-food-to-your-mental-age diet.
But, then again, celebrity diets have never been about losing weight sensibly: they’re a classic status symbol. Going on a nigh-on impossible diet proves you’re not a Normal Person, your mere survival testifying to some God-like invulnerability. It’s an all-too-convenient crutch for those who need something to prop up their fame. Those who can act/sing/write, do; those who can’t, diet.
But why do we follow these celebrities? You’d barely trust Britney Spears to sit still on a chair, so why would you follow her eating plan? Well, a diet is one rare part of the celebrity lifestyle we can buy into, perpetuating magazines such as Celebrity Diet Now, undoubtedly the most depressingly titled publication since the Doomsday book. But, I think there’s a reason apart from mere aspiration. One: ridiculous diets are convenient scapegoats. They give you a chance to say ‘no wonder my diet’s not working, I’ve not alternated between red and yellow foods! Why did no one tell me I needed to tailor my eating patterns to my blood type?!’ If it turns out that there’s a completely crazy solution to weight loss, then suddenly any past problems cease to be your fault.
There is, of course, the slightly more worrying issue: slim doesn’t equal healthy and celebrity diets are a classic case of when this holds. I’d hoped that fad diets had gulped their last macrobiotic meal when people started drawing powerful links between the Atkins plan and heart failure, but disturbingly people are still willing to risk their health, and even their lives.
So it’s the celebrities’ fault for endorsing such damaging diets, right? Not necessarily: it’s the media’s fault for publicising the diet in such a positive way! Er, no. Whilst the Mail isn’t doing healthy lifestyle any favours when it seems to suggest a correlation between starving yourself and being a supermodel frolicking on a yacht with a multi-millionaire boyfriend, to blame them would be just another case of convenient scapegoating. What the media says and does is only as damaging as the people who pay attention and ultimately the responsibility lies with the person actually consuming this rubbish, rubbish being the article, the diet, or both.
I’m aware that not everyone who tries a fad diet is a senseless moron who can’t process the simple principle of ‘eat less, exercise more’. I know that some people have genuine, medically confirmed weight issues and get desperate. However, they don’t make up the majority of people that actually play follow-the-leader with such authorities as Paris Hilton. Fad diets ultimately encourage very damaging lifestyles: not only physically, but also mentally. Unfortunately though, the sexiest poster girl healthy eating has is Dr Gillian McKeith. Enough said.