"The fact that, thanks to favorable genetics, I can eat and drink mostly everything and still stay on the slim side is a blessing and a curse."
This might sound first-world-problem-ish, humble-braggy, especially when you consider the sentence before it: "New York City is a dinner society—think of how many restaurants are in a single block. You can have dinner with a different friend at a different restaurant every day of the week [...]." Yes, very glam. But I hear what Emily Weiss is saying. If you get no immediate social disapproval for your size, there's not much incentive to eat well, other than this nebulous 'for health reasons.' I mean, tell this to someone who can't fit into clothes at the Gap, and they will have every right to present you with the world's most petite violin. But as non-problems go, it's not entirely ridiculous.
But I'm disappointed in "Into The Gloss," my online guilty pleasure, the place with the gorgeous photography of ordinary objects, where fashion-world celebs put their well-pedicured feet in their mouths after telling you which skin serums they use, after this latest post. Inspired by one of said women, Weiss, who runs the site, who admits she's already slim, and who includes a photo of herself in underpants (see, there's something in this post for the boys as well) to prove it, goes to a spa in Italy where they feed you 600 calories a day. This is, for the unacquainted, eating one small meal a day. As if the answer to too many cheeseburgers isn't, I don't know, a burger without the cheese and salad instead of fries, but rather a fashionable detour into anorexia.
And it's not Weiss I'm worried about - she seems like an adult woman with her life together, and she insists that the experience has taught her "everything in moderation." It's the readers - including, going by the comments, some very young ones - who will interpret this as not so much moderation as thinsporation. (The post is a thinly-disguised ad for the spa, as per the note at the end: "Accommodations provided by Espace Henri Chenot, thank God, because otherwise it would have been hella expensive." Indeed, few adolescent readers are likely to sign up, but this approach to diet is definitely being promoted.) How else could you interpret something like this:
When the body isn’t working on breaking down and assimilating food, it works on repairing itself, and what’s funny is that this can actually hurt: my hips were sore one morning, my lower back, another. “You’re eliminating the toxins,” my new best friend, Jennifer, the acupuncturist, explained, sending electro-currents into pressure points in my foot. [Emphasis mine.]It's probably inevitable, given their audience, that fashion publications, online and off, will dabble in health, and that "health" will be a euphemism for thinness. If this takes the form of cheery recipes, that's great and good-inspirational, like ITG's recent suggestion to put avocado on toast, which I totally followed, avocados being on sale at Whole Foods, and which I did not take as advice to eat less than I would otherwise. If a fashion blog wants to give me ideas for what to do with Swiss chard, for when that goes on sale, fine by me.
But a line is crossed when you go from 'eat more vegetables and get off the couch' - sensible, theoretically weight-neutral advice - to blueprints for eating disorders. This has come up before on ITG and elsewhere in the fashion blogosphere, a world that had such potential to dodge the fashion-mag trap of being glossed-up diet advice. And again, this isn't even so much diet advice - problematic, but some, one might argue, could benefit - as how-not-to-eat advice. Bad advice if you are significantly overweight, bad and extra nutty advice if you're not. The notion that the body "works on repairing itself" when not fed is not all that much better, from a feminist perspective, than "the body has ways of shutting that whole thing down" - it's just that the damage, in this case, is self-inflicted.
The glamorous, their evenings are just like ours (and we are waiting to properly celebrate the driver's license until our husband gets back to town): Weiss herself responded to my blog-comment, which basically quoted back to her the thing about the body repairing itself and asked why this was not a fad diet, something Weiss speaks out against in that same post. Her answer is that this relates to the body repairing itself when it sleeps, and she adds that she's not a nutritionist, and I shouldn't have shut that tab, since it would take forever to reload, what with all the images and the strength of this apartment's internet connection, but if yours is stronger, go read for yourself.
I mean, maybe? A French-Studies grad student knows as much about what happens to cells during sleep as a beauty blogger, so I don't think either of us are citing the relevant scientific literature. Anyway, I suppose the problem was that my comment didn't address head-on what the problem was - the perils of being overly concise. It's not that it's a fad diet, so much as that it's a starvation diet. While Science may show some benefits to this, the dangers of starvation are reasonably well-documented.