Georgia Aspinall | Contributing Writer | Thursday, 20 April 2017

Losing Weight Isn’t Always A Good Thing

Joking About The 'Flu Diet' Shows How Problematic Our Attitude To Weight Can Be

The Debrief: Kim Kardashian tweeting about the flu diet is no joke.

Another day, another Kardashian scandal. America’s first family has made headlines yet again, in a now deleted tweet Kim Kardashian made what was an ultimately problematic joke about weight loss. 

‘The flu can be an amazing diet. So happy it came in time for the Met lol #6lbsdown’

We’ve all heard it before, ‘the flu diet’, the infamous line from Devil Wears Prada ‘I’m just one stomach flu away from my goal weight’. It seems harmless, and when you say it in your group chat or over coffee with friends it is just a joke- although rooted in the unhealthy socialisation of body image but still, just a joke. That is, until you get hugely famous and say it on a public platform to millions of impressionable teens. 

It's not just Kim either, the US version of Cosmopolitan made a huge error in judgement last week. In a now deleted tweet, they said: 'How This Woman Lost 44 Pounds Without *ANY* Exercise' with a link to an article about a woman who had cancer, and therefore wasn't 'physically able to work out the way she used to before her cancer diagnosis.' Angling a story about a fitness blogger who survived cancer on her weight loss is not only ridiculously insensitive, it makes the same error as Kim by implying weight loss is worth sacrificing your health. Of course, it’s safe to assume that most reading the Cosmo article would understand that having Cancer isn’t desirable purely for the weight loss (no one is that stupid, are they?). What we can assume though, is that women reading it will once again feel pressure to lose weight. Because, if losing weight is the silver lining to Cancer, it must be REALLY important, right? 

Despite Kim’s tweet being obviously less severe than Cosmo’s, the underlying message stands just as strong. If anything, since Cosmo’s message was SO easily binned off as ridiculous, Kim’s passing comment pushes unhealthy weight loss methods further- because they’re so blasé they might actually be taken seriously. 

It’s no surprise that she is perpetuating the ridiculous notion that women must be as thin as possible to be beautiful (yet still have a massive bum and boobs). Despite her huge role in putting curvy women at the centre of desirability, the level of perfection that she oozes in every Instagram pic is highly unattainable. It’s why women everywhere are getting bum implants - America’s fastest growing cosmetic procedure in 2015 - and fat redistribution. The larger bone of contention though, is the promotion of weight loss in SUCH an unhealthy way, which was reinforced in the largest reaching women’s magazine in the US. 

Throwing up whenever you eat, starving yourself, what do they remind you of? It’s not just flu symptoms, it’s symptomatic of eating disorders. Not only are Kim and Cosmo reinforcing the idea that your weight is in direct proportion to your desirability, Kim is describing behaviours associated with Bulimia and Anorexia as ‘amazing’. Imagine being a 15-year-old girl, feeling insecure and chubby, already considering purging or dodging your dinner and seeing a tweet by your favourite celebrity celebrating those very tactics to lose weight. It might just be a joke, but with a platform like Kim’s, it’s not funny.

Why is weight loss so important, not only to Kim but to a magazine aimed at young women? Because women have been told since birth that weighing less automatically means you look better, and that insecurity sells magazines. In fact, for many women it’s completely the opposite. Take a look through fitness gurus on Instagram and you’ll see an abundance of ‘before: 50kg’, ‘after: 56kg’, ‘before: 1500 calories’, ‘after: 2300 calories’. They’re taking the notion that the less you weigh, the more pounds you lose each week, and turning it on its head. Because, Kim and Cosmo’s combined 52.7 million followers, losing weight does not always mean you look better, or are healthier. 


August 2016 □□ April 2017 - - The angling of the right photo makes it seem like there isn't a HUGE difference between these two pictures. But don't be fooled by posing; anyone can look a hella lot slimmer with the right lighting, strategic covering of the stomach and twisting of the hips. - What this picture presents is a girl overcoming her eating disorder. A girl who is no longer ruled by the controlling thoughts in her head telling her to avoid carbohydrates, only eat "clean" and not go to social events in fear there may be unknown/unhealthy foods there. - - It's okay to eat a lot. It's okay to go out with your friends and drink alcohol and eat pizza at 3am. It's okay to not go to the gym everyday. It's okay to pick up weights instead of only doing cardio. It's okay to feel like a failure. It's okay to fight those demons in your head. It's okay to gain weight. It's okay. #gainingweightiscool #transformationtuesday #recovered

A post shared by Sophie Jane ✨□ (@coconutsandwatermelon) on Apr 18, 2017 at 9:23am PDT

In fact, even if losing weight is your goal, and rightfully so for many people, doing it in the way Kim suggests isn’t good for your physical or mental health (not even going near Cosmo here- we all know Cancer is not good for your health).

Starving yourself or purging are never good, no matter how many pounds you lose in the process. Not only is it an unrealistic lifestyle in the long term, it actually works against your goal to lose fat. In starvation mode, your body clings to any fat to keep you alive (it’s dramatic like that) and starts destroying muscle protein for fuel. So as well as actively gaining fat, you’ll never get those Kim K glutes because your body is losing muscle. 

Purging not only damages your teeth, stomach lining and makes you tired AF, it also can impair your reproductive system. Then there’s the emotional impact of constantly being hungry or throwing up. Follow Kim K’s diet and get ready to be irritable, tired and generally anti-social, but it’s sooooo worth it for the Insta pics from your week in Marbella.

The irritating thing is, you CAN lose weight healthily, which Kim obviously does in her normal non-flu like state, so why not reinforce those healthy options for people who need it? 

Worse still, why are Cosmo and Kim using their platform to perpetuate unhealthy body image anyway? Where is the self-love at any size? Kim is clearly in amazing shape, and her need to lose weight just proves the theory that no matter how good you look, you will always face pressure to lose weight. It will be reinforced in magazines, and those magazines will always sell for as long as businesses can capitalise on the perpetuation of women’s insecurities and selling the ‘perfect body’. Self-love could be the death of women’s magazines, unless they jump on the bandwagon and start a new, more positive trend. 

It may seem trivial to rant about a tweet, but when you have a voice that millions of people listen to you can’t be brazen about what you post. You have an opportunity to change a social construct that has been socialised into us since the 1950’s. You have an opportunity to rid women of their insecurities and stop them resorting to unhealthy habits to lose weight. Say it in your group chat Kim, but don’t say it to the world. And Cosmo? Maybe avoid Twitter for a while, because that really was a doozy. 

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