The narrative around Kim Kardashian's drastic weight loss around the 2022 Met Gala continues, as the reality star and mogul recently shared that she dropped a total of 21 pounds. But in the face of Kardashian's perpetuation of toxic diet culture, experts remind people that they don't have to — nor should they — take Kardashian's methods as advice.
The 41-year-old made headlines following her appearance on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art where she wore Marilyn Monroe's iconic "Happy Birthday" dress loaned to Kardashian by Ripley's Believe it or Not. "I would wear a sauna suit twice a day, run on the treadmill, completely cut out all sugar and all carbs, and just eat the cleanest veggies and protein," she told Vogue about fitting into the dress. "I didn't starve myself, but I was so strict."
At the time, body advocates denounced Kardashian's dieting and spoke out about the contribution to toxic ideas around body image and beauty standards. "Many young girls will read this and try to do the same exact thing. Kardashian is an idol to many and there are so many people who would do anything she says in the hopes to look more like her," New York-based dietician Marissa Meshulam told Yahoo Life.
Following Kardashian's latest comments on her continued weight loss, Meshulam advises people to "block out the noise."
"It actually taught me a lot about my lifestyle and my health and since then, afterwards, I continue to eat really healthy. I'm down 21 pounds now," Kardashian said during an appearance on TODAY. "I'm not trying to lose any more weight but I have more energy than ever. I cut out so much sugar, a lot of junk food I was eating ... I just completely changed my lifestyle."
Meshulam says, "Anyone who is looking to feel better, change their lifestyle or who suffers from body image issues or disordered eating is vulnerable to commentary like this."
The dietician, who focuses on mindful eating and inclusive language regarding food and bodies, explains to Yahoo Life how multiple parts of Kardashian's commentary are problematic. "Elimination and restriction is part of an all or nothing mindset around food. When we eliminate we tend to fixate and it can create an extremely unhealthy relationship with food," she says. "Just because Kim is saying she removed all processed food, fried foods, added sugars, doesn't mean you need to do the same."
Kardashian's boasting of a 21-pound weight loss is not only troublesome but also not applicable to people who might strive for similar results, she explains.
"Specific numbers can be particularly triggering because they provide a quantitative way to compare ourselves. The issue is 21 pounds on one person is completely different than 21 pounds on another person," Meshulam says. "Even if we all ate and exercised the same exact way, we would all look totally different."
Most importantly, the impact that these conversations or influences can have on one's mental health cannot be undermined.
"Mental and physical health are one and the same, so doing anything that might harm your mental health, like removing all foods you love, in the sake of your physical health just doesn't work," she says. "We must balance out the two."
Kardashian's comments exist among many examples of toxic diet culture in Hollywood and throughout social media that National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) director of education Elizabeth Altunkara says are leading factors of body image issues.
"The pressures of the diet culture and the societal expectations to look a certain way perpetuate body dissatisfaction, which we know is a leading risk factor in the development of an eating disorder," she tells Yahoo Life. "Messages in the media and in our society about dieting and drive for thinness are internalized from a young age and negatively affect every aspect of one's life leading to a negative body image, which triggers feelings of shame, anxiety and self-consciousness."
Above all else, Meshulam reiterates that it's most healthy to pay no mind to these conversations as following a celebrity's lifestyle restrictions would likely prove useless anyway.
"Our bodies are unique and need different things," she says. "What one person does is not a guideline for how you should take care of yourself."
If you or someone you know is struggling with body image or eating concerns, NEDA’s toll-free, confidential helpline is available to help by phone (800-931-2237) and click-to-chat message. Crisis support is also available via text message by texting ‘NEDA’ to 741741.
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