The line between genuine medical dietary restraints and euphemistically-expressed dieting has never been blurrier: Refinery29 - straying from fashion once again - has a slideshow up profiling eight members of the fashion site's staff who have gone off gluten. Some did so for health reasons, others for quasi-health reasons, and only one admits to having gone gluten-free to lose weight, which, unsurprisingly, can work. But even she tosses in some genuine health concerns. Another begins with a very serious discussion of how a friend's cancer diagnosis inspired her to change her own eating habits, then adds (this is a fashion blog, after all) that her skin now "has a luminous glow to it."
There's no inherent reason why a healthier diet wouldn't make you look and feel better, but one senses that if it turned out the secret to longevity meant dull skin and gaining 15 pounds, there'd be fewer takers. One senses this precisely because the "health" concerns expressed in a fashion-writing context tend to be very pick-and-choose, like the actress referenced here earlier, who admits to drinking and smoking, yet freaks out if her skin products aren't "natural."
So on the one hand, if an office I don't work at decides to encourage disordered eating in the name of "health," this falls into the category of not my problem. Last I checked, my own diet of pasta, pasta, and a side order of extra pasta was actually encouraged for grad students, and because we can hardly afford to eat out/order in, but for whichever cultural reasons don't go in for fast food (though we do supplement the pasta with fresh produce and tiny bits of expensive cheese), we end up no less svelte (although decidedly less luminous) than the fashionistas. But on the other...
There are really two objections to this sort of thing. The first is that (as at least one Refinery29 commenter notes) conflating the glorified low-carb diets that already-thin women use to lose five pounds with celiac disease, which sounds like a pretty massive pain in the neck, is offensive to those suffering from that condition. The maybe-persuasive counterargument is that even those who won't die if they eat gluten feel healthier (and so much less bloated, aka thinner, although some insist - in vain, I'd say - that it's not about weight) if they cut out carbs, I mean gluten. I mean, who knows. Maybe? Is it terrible that when I read that gluten-free may reduce migraines, my thought was that I'll stick with migraines, Advil, and pasta? And maybe there is a subset of women (including those in the slideshow, or not) who really do only care about their health insofar as doing so is compatible with Fashion. At least they're eating vegetables and slathering on sunscreen, right?
The other objection, and the one for which there isn't any obvious counterargument, is that you hardly see men deciding to cut out some utterly normal ingredient, just to see what that does (i.e. whether restricting what you eat will make you lose weight, which it will.) Not never - remember Mark Bittman's lactose concerns? - but as a rule, this kind of worrying-about-it involves women who were never going to be fat to begin with wasting vast amounts of time and energy on being a size two rather than a size four, 120 pounds rather than 125. It's not that the ideal would be men and women alike worrying like this - ideal would be neither. But seeing as it's almost entirely women being held back by this behavior, this is a feminist concern.