Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala Diet Stunt Is Outdated and Alarming

We know Kim Kardashian and her family love a headline — good or bad — and they love claiming the spotlight at any controversial cost. In many cases, their ambition is entertaining to enjoy from afar and the worst case scenario from their overzealous hunger for attention is a bad case of schadenfreude. In a handful of these cases, though, the repercussions of Kardashian antics are alarming —even dangerous — and now it’s time to talk about the Marilyn Monroe Met Gala 2022 debacle. 

For those who have not spent the past 26 to 36 hours obsessively poring over the details of the scenario, here’s what you need to know: Kim Kardashian wore Marilyn Monroe’s historic, sparkly, nude “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress to Monday’s “Gilded Glamour”-themed Met Gala.

Let’s be real: it was a gutsy move that transcends boldness and essentially ensured a trending Twitter topic. Even those uninitiated in the language of fashion nerdery would be impressed to learn that the dress holds the record for being the most expensive one ever sold at auction — in 2016, it went for $4.8 million. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum later acquired it and has kept it safely stored in a darkened, temperature and humidity-controlled vault. Hardly a single human has seen it since Monroe wore it, let alone tried it on. Requesting to wear it to the Met Gala was a calculated move; one that guaranteed plenty of hot takes on the appropriateness of cosplaying as a Hollywood legend in one of said legend’s most legendary garment.

\Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin

But here is where the Kardashian controversy train may have unintentionally derailed (or intentionally? Who knows what they know they’re doing at this point?): Kardashian didn’t just wear the dress and pose; she detailed the pre-event prep she felt was necessary to fit into the dress. On the red carpet, she told friend and Vogue livestream host La La Anthony, “I tried it on and it didn’t fit me. I had three weeks and I had to lose 16 pounds… It was like a role. I was determined to fit into it. I don’t think they believed I was going to do it, but I did it.” Kardashian then got into the nitty gritty of that process with Vogue, saying, “I would wear a sauna suit twice a day, run on the treadmill, completely cut out all sugar and all carbs, and just eat the cleanest veggies and protein. I didn’t starve myself, but I was so strict.” When the dress fit a few weeks later, she says, “I wanted to cry tears of joy when it went up.”

To say there’s a lot to unpack here is the understatement of the disordered eating century — and what a century it’s been. I should know, considering I just painstakingly chronicled the fallacy of the “ideal” body over the last hundred-plus years and — surprise, surprise, Kardashian and Monroe both made significant cameos in the article. For the average media consumer, Kardashian’s crash diet and subsequent commentary could be perceived as nothing more than an eye-roll inducing publicity stunt or a harmless short-term crash diet before a big event. For those of us who have suffered through any form of disordered eating or are well versed in the undeniable and profound impact these stunts can have on the mental and physical health of millions, this is serious. 

I’m not here to accuse Kardashian of having an eating disorder — as someone who has spent more than half my life co-existing with one, I’m not exactly in the position to point fingers or further stigmatize those who may be in the same boat. I’m not even really blaming Kardashian for publicly celebrating her rapid weight loss as some sort of badge of honor and gleefully recounting the blood, sweat, and tears it took to achieve her goal, no matter how fundamentally screwed up that goal was to begin with. Kardashian exists in the same twisted society we all do, and she’s consumed the same fatphobic, thin-obsessed poison we’ve all been fed since birth. That said, Kardashian also now has the power, influence, and means to take a sledgehammer to that stale societal paradigm conflating weight and worth. And yet, here we are reading headlines about her joyful, dutiful denial of sugar and carbs. Why are we still doing this?

“Look, obviously I think we all know it’s not acceptable to go on a red carpet and announce that you barely ate for three weeks and were doing saunas twice a day to lose weight,” says my friend and frequent expert source on all things body image-related, Alyssa Mass, MFT. “Of course, most people in 2022 are going to balk at that. ‘Kim, how could you?! Kim, you’re a mother!’ If she had gone up there and said she just put the dress on and it fit like a glove, the audience would have balked at her setting unrealistic standards. Do you know how many clients I’ve had walk into my office and say, ‘but these celebrities just look like that’? Either rhetoric is hugely problematic for different reasons.”

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