The most explosive moments from the Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy libel trial
The most explosive moments from the Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy libel trial

Sarah Gill

The best tan drops for make-up free, sun-kissed skin
The best tan drops for make-up free, sun-kissed skin

Holly O'Neill

It seems as though churning out TikToks is now part and parcel of being a musician
It seems as though churning out TikToks is now part and parcel of being a...

Sarah Gill

This Irish book subscription box will help you sort your next great summer read
This Irish book subscription box will help you sort your next great summer read

Sarah Finnan

What is colloidal oatmeal and should I be using it?
What is colloidal oatmeal and should I be using it?

Shayna Sappington

IMAGE Weekender: Inside the cosy new wine bar in Dublin 4
IMAGE Weekender: Inside the cosy new wine bar in Dublin 4

Sarah Finnan

What to stream online this weekend 
What to stream online this weekend 

Sarah Finnan

The Diary: Social pictures from the No7 Boots Pro Derm Scan event
The Diary: Social pictures from the No7 Boots Pro Derm Scan event

Sarah Gill

WIN 4 tickets to the Black Eyed Peas concert
WIN 4 tickets to the Black Eyed Peas concert

IMAGE

Gaining weight for a part is good but wearing a ‘fat suit’ is bad? Unpacking the Reneé Zellweger backlash
Gaining weight for a part is good but wearing a ‘fat suit’ is bad? Unpacking...

Sarah Finnan

Image / Agenda / Image Writes

The unbearable weight of diet culture: Kim K shed 16 pounds in 3 weeks to fit into her Met Gala dress


By Sarah Finnan
03rd May 2022

@makeupbymario

The unbearable weight of diet culture: Kim K shed 16 pounds in 3 weeks to fit into her Met Gala dress

If you thought unhealthy dieting techniques were a thing of the past, think again as Kim Kardashian just revealed that she lost 16 pounds in three weeks in order to fit into her Met Gala dress. 

As a child of the late 90s/early aughts, diet culture has underscored the large majority of my life and it’s taken a lot of conscious unlearning on my part to realise that most of the “healthy hacks” are, in fact, codswallop. 

From finding out what bulimia was at the age of eight (when an older friend told me that Mary-Kate Olsen used to “get sick to stay skinny”), to trying just about every “get bikini ready programme” out there, to binge-watching series upon series of America’s Next Top Model, my teenage existence was accented by an unhealthy obsession with weight and what I looked like. 

Y2K’s “heroin chic” aesthetic

It was a different time, though. The Y2K aesthetic was characterised by the glamourisation of the “heroin chic” look – pale skin, gaunt bodies, dark under eyes. Kate Moss and Nicole Richie pioneered the look and if you weren’t rake-thin, you desperately wanted to be. Protruding hip bones and thigh gaps were enviable, and magazine covers were plastered with images of the “best” (and even more worryingly, “worst”) beach bodies. 

The pressure to conform and lose weight by any means possible felt insurmountable…  but it was also kind of normal. Everyone was doing it and, problematic as our fixation on what the scale said was, no one really questioned our methods. 

Image curation and Kardashian PR

Then, the Kardashian-Jenners arrived on the scene. Three years after their family-focused reality show premiered on E!, Instagram launched and the family ushered in a new era of image curation. Kim Kardashian was heralded as the modern beauty ideal and thus began another wave of harmful body rhetoric. 

Interest in Brazilian butt lifts and waist trainers surged and people began turning to surgery as a means to help them achieve the desired look. Some praised Kim for embracing her curves and making “womanly” figures fashionable again, but her physique was no more attainable than that of say, Moss, who famously claimed that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. 

Back then, diet culture was everywhere. Celebrities (and laypeople) were quite upfront about the things they did to stay trim – whether that was eating cereal twice a day à la the Special K diet, sticking to a low-carb food plan like Atkins or only eating so-called “clean” foods. 

Met Gala madness  

Things are vastly different now – 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. Case in point, Kim Kardashian, who lost 16 pounds in three weeks to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress for this year’s Met Gala. For context, losing more than one to two pounds per week is considered unhealthy by the experts.

Admitting that she equates the dress, and Monroe’s infamous performance of “Happy Birthday Mr President” for President John F Kennedy as “the most American thing [she] can think of”, Kim said she initially came up with the idea to wear the iconic gown after last year’s event. “The idea really came to me after the gala in September last year. I thought to myself, ‘What would I have done for the American theme if it had not been the Balenciaga look? What’s the most American thing you can think of? And that’s Marilyn Monroe.” 

The history

The dress caused a stir back in 1962 and it caused a stir again last night. Labelled the “original naked dress” by Kim, it was bought for a whopping $4.8 million at auction in 2016, before it was later acquired by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum where it has been stored in a darkened, temperature-controlled vault ever since. 

Invited to try on a replica of the gown to establish whether it would fit, that first fitting went well and the original was soon “winging its way via private plane” to Kardashian’s home in Calabasas. Somehow the second fitting didn’t go quite as planned, though. “The dress was transported by guards and I had to wear gloves to try it on,” Kim explained. “I always thought she was extremely curvy. I imagined I might be smaller in some places where she was bigger and bigger in places where she was smaller. So, when it didn’t fit me I wanted to cry because it can’t be altered at all,” she told Vogue.

Three-week countdown

With limited time to go before the gala, Kim had two options: find another dress or slim down to fit into it. There was only ever one choice where Kim was concerned. “It was this or nothing,” she said rather matter-of-factly, supposedly telling the guards to “give [her] like, three weeks”.

Embarking on a rigorous routine to ensure she would fit into it when the time came, 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 didn’t starve myself, but I was so strict,” Kardashian explained. Almost a month later, she was inside the Ripley’s vaults in Orlando for the final fitting. This time around, the dress fit like a glove. “I wanted to cry tears of joy when it went up,” she said. 

Bad press

Kardashian has had a rather rocky relationship with the Met Gala over the years. First attending the glamorous affair in 2013 alongside then-husband, Kanye West, the reality star wore a rose-printed Givenchy number complete with built-in gloves and matching shoes. Heavily pregnant at the time, the look garnered her many cruel headlines — most of them shaming her for gaining weight. Another photo of her wearing a black and white dress went viral around the same time, with media coverage likening her appearance to that of a killer whale. 

Fast forward a couple of years and Kim was the talk of the town again, this time for the impossibly waist-whittled Mugler dress she wore in 2019. Shifting her diet to prepare to wear the dress, Kim only ate plant-based fare in the run-up to the event (she previously went on a 10-day cleanse before the 2018 gala). 

Structured to within an inch of her life, the corset under the dress rendered her waist so tiny that it left no room for food and a Vogue video showing her last wardrobe fitting saw Kim 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.”

Déjà vu

Then last night, Kim skipped the after party to go back to her hotel room for a “pizza and donut party” with boyfriend Pete Davidson. 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.

Here’s the thing though, Kim only wore the original Marilyn dress for mere minutes – she was too afraid of damaging the gown to wear it any longer – which begs the question of whether three weeks of intense sacrifice and demonising food was really such a good idea? I think we all know the answer here, but seeing the facts laid out makes it all the more shocking. 

It just goes to show that the unbearable weight of diet culture has never really gone away. Yes, it’s far less pervasive and in your face than it was in the early noughties, but there’s now an air of hush that brings an unsettling new layer to the problem. Famous people subsisted on coffee and cigarettes in the early 2000s, but this we knew; they made no secret of it. Celebrities have become much more tight-lipped about their methods since then and the illusion that they “woke up like this” is arguably more unsettling than the blatant disregard for health that the former timeframe was known for.