‘I’m down 21 pounds’: Kim Kardashian proudly touting her weight loss is extremely problematic
It’s been over a month since Kim Kardashian took to the red carpet for the Met Gala, but the controversy surrounding her choice of dress – and methods to fit into it – continues.
Slipping into Marilyn Monroe’s iconic 1962 “Happy Birthday, Mr President”, or JFK dress, for the occasion, Kim caused quite a stir as she sashayed down the red carpet. One of her most divisive looks to date, the public quickly split into two opposing camps: one fiercely defending the outfit and praising Kim for embodying the event’s theme, the other condemning her for feeling entitled to a dress that was never hers to take.
Only wearing the original for a matter of minutes (she changed into a replica for the rest of the night), Kim has since been accused of causing irreparable damage to the dress – allegations both she and Ripley’s Museum (those responsible for loaning Kim the garment in the first place) have denied.
“It was such a process,” Kardashian told NBC News’ Today show of what was involved. “I showed up to the red carpet in a robe and slippers, and I put the dress on at the bottom of the carpet, went up the stairs. I probably had it on for three minutes, four minutes, and then I changed right at the top of the stairs.”
Ripley’s doubled down on Kim’s comments. “From the bottom of the Met steps, where Kim got into the dress, to the top where it was returned, the dress was in the same condition it started in,” Amanda Joiner, Ripley’s vice president of publishing and licensing, said in a statement.
The public discourse has only intensified over the past few weeks, however, particularly in light of Kardashian’s admission that she had to significantly slim down to actually fit into the dress in the first place. Shedding 16 pounds in three weeks, Kardashian claimed that her methods to lose weight were “healthy”.
“I didn’t starve myself, but I was so strict,” she said at the time. Her methods involved wearing a sauna suit twice a day, running on the treadmill, completely cutting out all sugar and all carbs, and just eating the “cleanest veggies and protein”. “I looked at it like a role, and I really wanted to wear this dress,” she said. “It was really important to me. It actually taught me a lot about my lifestyle and my health,” the reality star told NBC News.
Public reaction to Kim’s weight loss efforts was largely negative, with most people lambasting her for promoting “extremely disordered eating”. Kim responded to the backlash by comparing her weight loss to that of Christian Bale’s when he lost 63 pounds for his role in The Machinist.
“To me it was like, ‘Ok, Christian Bale can do it for a movie role and that is acceptable.’ Even Renée Zellweger gained weight for a role. It’s all the same to me,” Kim said. “I wasn’t saying, ‘Hey everyone, why don’t you go lose this weight in a short period of time?’ I didn’t do anything unhealthy,” she maintained.
Cut to today and Kim confessed that she’s lost even more weight since then.
“Since then, afterwards I continued to eat really healthy. I’m down 21 pounds now. 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 didn’t even realise, a lot of fried foods, and I just completely changed my lifestyle.”
Key players in changing societal views on what is considered beautiful, the Kardashian women have long been held up as beacons of modern beauty… so what message does Kim proudly touting her weight loss send to people? Not a good one.
No stranger to controversy, Kim has essentially built a career off the back of public outrage/intrigue. Her mother, Kris, has honed the art of using scandal to the family’s advantage and even those who actively try to avoid keeping up with the Kardashian-Jenners have at least some knowledge about who they are/what they’re up to. Which means that, like it or not, Kim’s words/actions have influence.
We’ve done a lot of hard graft to overcome the toxic body rhetoric of the 90s/early naughts but the unbearable weight of diet culture sadly remains. Yes, the way we talk about and treat our bodies has changed drastically – we value diversity and body positivity more than we ever did – but, that doesn’t mean that celebrities aren’t relying on wholly unhealthy techniques to look a certain way, because many of them still are.
Kim talking about losing weight to fit into a dress normalises the idea that people should be changing their bodies to fit their clothes and not the other way around. Not only that, but her comments suggest that weeks of intense sacrifice and restriction are worth it for the end result and that foods such as pizza and donuts should be used as treats or rewards.
A Vogue video showing Kim’s last wardrobe fitting for her 2019 Met Gala Mugler dress saw her say, “I am gonna eat donuts tomorrow. I have a delivery at 8:30 in the morning of two dozen mini donuts – my favourite donuts ever from New York. And I eat a dozen by myself but they’re… mini mini mini. A dozen probably equals one regular donut.” Structured to within an inch of her life, the corset under the impossibly whittled dress rendered her waist so tiny that it left no room for food… so she waited until the event was over and then compensated.
This year, Kim skipped the Met Gala after-party to go back to her hotel room for a “pizza and donut party” with boyfriend Pete Davidson. She shared a video of the impressive setup on her Instagram, telling fans “I’m starving”. Et voilà, it’s 2003 all over again, when “cheat days/cheat meals” were all the rage and disordered eating was not only idealised but praised and applauded.
As one of the most famous (and most beautiful) women in the world, Kim is undeniably under a great deal of pressure when it comes to her appearance, but she’s aware of her influence and with so many young, impressionable fans at her disposal, promoting such unhealthy and unrealistic methods is irresponsible on her part.