Kim Kardashian has always been framed as someone who reached her celebrity status through nothing more than “being famous.” So it came as little surprise that Kim’s lack of traditional Hollywood credentials made it difficult for some people to get fully on board with the moment she pouted on the red carpet in that iconic dress at the Met Gala.
But, to the chagrin of so many, the actress and the influencer have more in common than their hour-glass figures.
Kim and Marilyn were both faced with similarly misogynistic criticism on their journeys to becoming cultural icons. And while Kim didn’t have the same hardships as Marilyn, their trajectories to becoming two famous women in popular culture aligned in other ways. They both combatted harsh criticism to embrace their sexuality.
So too were they scrutinised for their weight albeit in different ways. On Monday evening Kim Kardashian shared that she lost 16lbs in just three weeks in order to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress for the star-studded event.But it was her staggering weight loss required for the show-stopping spectacle that turned more heads than the 60-year-old dress itself.
“I had to lose about 16 pounds [7.25 kilograms] to fit into the dress,” Kardashian told Vogue prior to her red carpet appearance. “I would wear a sauna suit twice a day, run on the treadmill … and just eat the cleanest veggies and proteins. I didn’t starve myself, but it was so strict.”
A-list celebs go on crash diets for the Met Gala – it’s so noughties, but we already know that. The problem here is the perceived glamorisation of such sudden weight loss.
The diet-binge cycle
We spoke to celebrity nutritionist and weight loss specialist Kim Pearson. Kim is a qualified nutritionist and runs a weight loss clinic on London’s Harley Street.
“When I was asked to comment on Kim Kardashian’s weight loss my first thought was – wow, it’s been a while since I have seen a story like this” says Pearson. “Unfortunately it would seem as though the days of crazy celebrity crash diets are not over after all.”
Losing weight very quickly may seem tempting but it has the potential to cause long-term harm to health,” Pearson explains. “Losing 16lbs in 3 weeks might be possible but for most people, achieving this would require an overly restrictive regime. Crash dieting can cause menstrual irregularities, compromise immunity, deplete energy levels and affect digestive function. Over time, it can lead to loss of bone density, hair loss and muscle loss. There are many ways in which extreme diet regimes can negatively affect both our physical and mental health.”
The pressure on celebrities
Pearson, who has many celebrity clients, often sees those who need to achieve a certain physique for a film role, photoshoot or event. “I’m currently working with a well-known singer prior to her tour this summer. Often there isn’t a lot of notice so we need to achieve maximum results in a short space of time. One thing I am never prepared to do it compromise health for the sake of weight loss.”
In an Instagram story Kim Kardashian stated “after the Met I am starving” and proceeded to share images of doughnuts and boxes of pizza. She explains that she hasn’t “had carbs or sugar in almost a month” and was “so excited” alluding to the prospect of consuming these foods. Pearson says that this is unsurprising “crash dieting and over restriction often results in a subsequent binge” she explains. “Going from a restrictive low-carb, low-sugar diet to eating highly processed, deep fried and high sugar foods is really not a good idea.”
“Plus diet and weight loss advice from glamorous celebrities can be very alluring especially to younger people who look up to celebrities like the Kardashians.”
There is no place for snobbery when it comes to the realisation that reality TV is now considered glamorous.
Arguably the purists who feel it was tacky of Kim Kardashian to wear such a historic dress don’t seem to have a problem with the jarring clash of culture and celebrity that already exists. The Museum of Art was shaken from it’s usual silence by R&B American singer-songwriter Lizzo, for example. This social change is art in itself. There is no place for snobbery when it comes to the realisation that reality TV is now considered glamorous. Is it perhaps the 21st century Hollywood movie equivalent? And can we really deny that Instagram is our modern day version of a pin up? Is Kim Kardashian really as commanding as Marilyn was in her time?
Almost a week later, we are not talking about the Met Gala. Or Marilyn. We are talking about Kim Kardashian. About the diet. About the dress. About what she’s done or not done. The discourse and impassioned views on either side speak directly to both Marilyn and Kim’s ascendancy in pop culture. Say what you like, but it’s more than just a dress that link the two women.