As a registered dietitian/nutritionist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, a recent New York Times article caught my attention. The title? “Bingeing on Celebrity Weight Battles.” While Ms. Oprah Winfrey seems to have ignited the public’s interest of her own weight struggles back in the 80’s, the need for celebrity self-disclosure on everything weight related seems to be on a expeditious rise.
Quite frankly I’m annoyed and concerned about how this feeds our nation’s (and my clients’) very disordered view of body shape and size, diet, and exercise. Celebrities bounce from one extreme to another, while many Americans drink it in with increased fascination and a belief that they ought to model such behavior. So I’ve been thinking of the pros and cons of celebrities posting their weight loss stats, strategies, caloric intake, and exercise routines.
While I haven’t come up with many pros, I have developed a strong list of cons:
1.) Leads to unrealistic expectations in terms of appearance, which feeds disordered eating and exercise behaviors
2.) Increases the likelihood of depression associated with body dissatisfaction
3.) Sets forth a model of comparison based on unhealthy behaviors. “If Melissa Joan Hart eats 1400 calories, I should too.”
4.) Feeds cycles of weight loss and and weight gain as a result of following a diet/exercise regimen that cannot be maintained long-term
5.) Suggests that your value as a person is extrinsic (i.e. weight) rather than intrinsic
My list of pros:
1.) Great examples of how overly restrictive diets and eating patterns don’t work….Can you seriously eat pre-packaged Jenny Craig for the rest of your life? I think not.
2.) Proves that having a personal chef, personal trainer, and nutritionist at your beckon call cannot fix it all! Good nutrition and a health body image are an inside job!
Please feel free to add to my lists! I’d love to hear your feedback.