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Kim Kardashian's admission that she lost 16 pounds in three weeks in order to fit into Marilyn Monroe's dress at the Met Gala is being called dangerous by experts.
On Monday, the reality star walked the red carpet in the iconic $4.8 million gown and shared in an interview with Vogue that ahead of the event that she "wanted to cry" when the piece didn't initially fit her. Still, she was determined to wear it and went to extreme measures to do so.
"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," she told the magazine. "I didn’t starve myself, but I was so strict."
For one of the most famous women in the world to proudly flaunt her weight loss on a public stage is not only harmful to her impressionable followers but also to herself, with one expert even labeling Kardashian's drastic measures as disordered eating.
"Kim Kardashian boasting about her extreme restriction and exercise regimen to lose 16 pounds in three weeks, only to later share on Instagram stories how excited she is to eat pizza and donuts after the red carpet, is textbook disordered eating, diet culture and such a dangerous message to promote to a massive, impressionable audience," Brenna O'Malley, a non-diet dietician and founder of The Wellful tells Yahoo Life.
She also notes that the comments were reminiscent of the early 2000s when statements about a celebrity's weight came without critical conversations and awareness of the damaging impact they can have.
Kenzie Brenna, a body image advocate and creator, says by now she figured that we as a society know that losing that much weight in such a short amount of time is "extremely dangerous and detrimental to your health." That's why she was disheartened to see that the mainstream conversation about Kardashian's transformation was so focused on praising thinness and lacked any attention to the harsh realities of that type of restriction.
"The last time I [dieted like] that I was in an eating disorder. And nobody told me to stop even though my hair was falling out and even though my heartbeat was irregular, and even though I had to drop out of school and quit my job because I literally couldn't stay awake because I had no energy," Brenna says. "And that's the dangerous side of this extreme dieting, and it's not glamorous and it's not cute."
Even if Kardashian's restrictions were temporary, the impact of her words during a highly publicized moment in pop culture will last.
"She has so many followers and so many people look up to her and she has so much control over where culture goes. With that comes huge responsibility," Brenna continues. "This isn't a person that's putting on a dress in a vacuum. This is a person who's very interconnected in North American culture and in the culture of the way that women look at each other and the way that women spend their money ... and how they want to dress themselves and how they want to look."
New York-based dietician Marissa Meshulam tells Yahoo Life that the biggest danger is in the influence that this moment will have on impressionable audiences, especially those who don't have access to the same resources as the star.
"Many young girls will read this and try to do the same exact thing. Kardashian is an idol to many and there are so many people who would do anything she says in the hopes to look more like her. The issue is most of us cannot survive off just protein and veggies," she says. "Restrictive diets tend to backfire and can actually create disordered eating patterns and obsession down the line. What is also not mentioned here is that Kardashian’s access is very different than your average person. She has support 24/7, which makes going on a plan like this a lot different."
The motivation behind the diet being simply to fit into a garment is another message in opposition to the body positive and body neutral messaging of today.
"My mind immediately goes to young girls and teenagers. Those developing and experiencing changes with their bodies that might be happening faster than they can accept yet. If extreme weight loss measures for the sake of fashion are being, not only glamorized, but listed in detail, you’ve just armed these young women with the most dangerous tools to navigate their budding future of body acceptance," model and designer Candice Huffine explains. "Media has been connecting worth to dress size for far too long now and in a time when mental health awareness and inclusion are the number one goal, we cannot ever stop thinking about the effect a three-week diet regimen for an event has on a freshman sitting in class right now dreaming about prom."
Frankly put, Brenna says, "It's not worth it, it's not OK and we don't need people to become more obsessed about their bodies."
When it comes to Kardashian's bodily autonomy, experts say it's important to acknowledge that she has the right to do what she wants with her body. However, she has a responsibility to be conscious of how she presents that in the public eye as a result of her power.
"While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, it’s the complete disregard of her influence over millions of people, especially young people, that’s concerning. She’s a woman with an immense amount of power and it’s sad that she’s more focused on using that power to glamorize disordered eating than anything else," body confidence advocate Brynta Ponn adds. "While Kim is an accomplished woman I’d love to just remind people that this is not success nor should it be the type of behavior we look up to. There’s no shame in sizing up in clothing."
If you or someone you know is struggling with body image or eating concerns, NEDA’s toll-free, confidential helpline is available to help by phone (800-931-2237) and click-to-chat message. Crisis support is also available via text message by texting ‘NEDA’ to 741741.
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