Lili Reinhart, an actor known for her role as Betty Cooper on TV’s Riverdale, took to her Instagram stories on May 3 to call out celebrities for behavior that sends a toxic message about how bodies should look.
“To walk on a red carpet and do an interview where you say how starving you are … because you haven’t eaten carbs in the last month … all to fit in a f***ing dress?” Reinhart wrote in an Instagram Story, People reported earlier this week. (The original Instagram Story with Reinhart’s post was live for only 24 hours.) “So wrong. So f***ed on 100s of levels,” Reinhart wrote.
She didn’t mention Kim Kardashian by name, but there’s strong speculation that Reinhart’s comments were in response to Kardashian’s Met Gala appearance. Kardashian donned the same dress that Marilyn Monroe wore to sing “Happy Birthday”
to President John F. Kennedy in 1962, and said she lost 16 pounds in three weeks to fit into the gown for the gala, People also reported. Kardashian told Vogue she wore a sauna suit twice a day and followed
a very strict diet (cutting out all carbohydrates and sugar) to do so.
Reinhart followed up with a tweet on May 4, 2022. “I do not say the things that I say because I want to be relevant or get attention,”
she wrote. “I speak up because I don’t see enough people with large platforms calling out toxic behavior in our industry.”
This isn’t the first time Reinhart has spoken out about body image. In January 2022, she used her Instagram Stories to share how the pressures of celebrity had messed with her relationship with her own body. “I’ve been struggling with
obsessive thoughts about my body/weight the last few months and it’s gotten pretty severe the last week,” she wrote, as HuffPost reported.
Reinhart said she didn’t feel at home in her own skin, and that it was “devastating.”
Nutrition and body image experts applaud Reinhart for coming forward.
Celebrities Have Body Autonomy, but Glamorizing Extreme Weight Loss Is Irresponsible
“When people call out behavior like Kim’s, it helps bring to light the fact that diet culture very much exists,” says Amanda Sauceda, RDN, a nutritionist
in Long Beach, California, who helps people with gut issues and intuitive eating. “In the past, we would have seen praise for [Kardashian’s] weight loss splashed on magazine covers without a second thought.”
It’s important to see pushback against the way Kardashian talked about extreme weight loss so flippantly, says Paula Atkinson, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Washington,
DC, who specializes in eating disorders and body image. “It is really great to see other people who have much influence calling out such harmful behavior, first and foremost — but then also critiquing Kim’s choice to talk about it with
somewhat of a sense of pride,” she says. “Just a few years ago, everyone would have been on board with the belief that Kim was displaying strength and virtue by subjecting her body to this trauma.”
Kardashian has a huge platform, which she has used to bring attention to diet behavior that is unhealthy and potentially dangerous, Sauceda adds. She admitted to cutting out an entire food group, wearing a sauna suit (
The National Institutes of Health defines a healthy weight loss as one to two pounds per week for up to six months, meaning Kardashian’s
16-pound drop should have happened over eight weeks (not three) to be considered healthy.
“Kim is participating in the glamorization of starvation,” Atkinson says. She’s perpetuating an idea that weight loss is something to celebrate, and that people whose bodies are larger than a certain size should be trying to change them,
Atkinson says. “It supports anti-fat bias and the ongoing oppression of people based on body shape.”
There’s evidence that extreme dieting or constant dieting is problematic, Sauceda says. It’s unsustainable and can lead to weight cycling (repeatedly losing and gaining weight). In a review published in December 2017 in the Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome, authors looked at existing research and concluded that weight cycling is associated with
increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.
Fad diets can also lead to nutrient deficiencies and other negative physical health impacts. A study published in September 2019 in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that low-calorie diets can lead to bone loss and increased risk of osteoporosis, and that the risk is even greater for people who exercise while restricting calories.
And they can be really harmful to emotional health, Atkinson says. Research published in Cureus in September 2020 found that dieting led to an increased risk
of eating disorders, food obsession, binge eating, and depression. “We know that dieting (of all kinds, but specifically this type of extreme restriction) is trauma to the body and the brain,” Atkinson says. “It can lead to years
of food obsession, body hatred, feeling out of control with food, and other sometimes lifelong consequences.”
4 Things Everyone Can Do to Call Out and Drown Out Toxic Messages About Diet Culture and Body Image
Both Sauceda and Atkinson regularly see clients who have been harmed by diet culture and oppressive body standards, and they have some advice for how to feel less affected by it.
1. Remember That Crash Diets Backfire in the Long Term
“Crash diets, or any diet promising quick weight loss, do not [deal with] the harder and more important issue of sustainability,” Sauceda says. “People are never able to keep up with restrictive diets, which can lead us into a vicious
cycle of weight cycling, which is extremely detrimental to the body and mind.”
Research supports this. In a meta-analysis published in April 2020 in the BMJ, researchers looked at data from several popular diet patterns (low-carb, Mediterranean,
low calorie, low fat, macronutrient counting, and more), and found that while most people lost weight in the first six months of all the diets, practically all of them had regained most or all of that weight within the year.
2. Curate the Media You Consume
“Constant access and exposure to celebrities is almost unavoidable these days,” Atkinson says. “But we have some choice of who we follow, and who and what we allow into our consciousness.” While it can be hard to avoid every Kardashian
headline that hits the media, you can choose not to follow along with celebrities who make you feel like your body, your life, or your food choices aren’t good enough.
Sauceda agrees. “Start following people on social media who talk about creating a healthy relationship with food or take a weight-neutral approach to health,” she says.
3. Stop Putting Celebrities on a Pedestal
We all know that Instagram is a highlight reel, not the full story. The same is true for celebrity culture in general. We see celebrities in their most glamorous moments, but we have no idea what goes on in their everyday lives, or how they’re feeling.
Atkinson often reminds her clients that many celebrities struggle with severe body image issues. Some, like Reinhart, talk openly about them, while others don’t share their suffering publicly. The next time you hear a celebrity’s weight loss
being celebrated, remember that there could be some not-so-great stuff happening behind the scenes.
4. Body Acceptance Is Far More Fulfilling Than Fitting Into a Dress
“I recognize that it’s difficult to extricate oneself from diet culture, from the beliefs society holds about body shape and food choices,” Atkinson says. “But freedom from the entire scam is far more fulfilling and far less fleeting
than fitting into any dress.”
Atkinson recommends aiming for body neutrality, which means separating your self-worth and your happiness from how your body looks. This approach is more sustainable and ultimately more freeing than trying to love how your body looks all the
This content was originally published here.