Discourse around the 2022 Met Gala, which was held on May 2, were eclipsed by the devastating news of the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade — and the looming threat of roughly half of the US population losing the right to bodily autonomy. One story that’s continued to gain traction regardless, however, is Kim Kardashian‘s Met Gala appearance in Marylin Monroe’s iconic “Happy birthday, Mr. President” dress from 1962 — and the fact that she apparently lost a significant amount of weight in three weeks to fit into it.
Kardashian shared this with Vogue correspondent Lala Anthony on the red carpet, telling the outlet about the extreme exercise routine and restrictive diet she followed in order to fit into the dress. “I didn’t starve myself, but I was so strict,” she told Vogue.
If this set off your internal wellness alarm, you’re not alone. Plenty of people took to social media to call out the problematic and straight-up dangerous nature of Kardashian’s weight-loss comments. “Riverdale” actress Lili Reinhart voiced her opinion loud and clear on her Instagram stories — she didn’t explicitly name Kardashian, but she made a strong statement nonetheless: “To walk on a red carpet and do an interview where you say how starving you are . . . because you haven’t eaten carbs in the last month . . . all to fit in a f–king dress?” she wrote on her Instagram Story on May 3, according to E! News. “So wrong. So f—-d on 100s of levels. To openly admit to starving yourself for the sake of the Met Gala. When you know very well that millions of young men and women are looking up to you and listening to your every word. The ignorance is other-worldly disgusting.”
Reinhart has been vocal about her own body-image struggles on social media, detailing her “obsessive thoughts” about her body and weight and fight to “feel at home” in her own skin. “I didn’t think being in this industry, that is so obsessed with women’s bodies and weights, could ever mess with my own body acceptance and positivity . . . but it has,” she wrote on Instagram in January 2022.
Reinhart is far from the only one taking issue with Kardashian’s very-public weight loss.
Mik Zazon, blogger and creator of the #NormalizeNormalBodies movement, posted a video on Instagram with the caption, “If you don’t fit into clothes, get a bigger size. Our bodies are not meant to be manipulated to fit into clothes.” In the video, she shares her personal experience with attempting to fit into a dress for her sister’s wedding, trying tips that celebrities like Kardashian touted for weight loss. “But it backfired; I started binging,” she says, adding that this combination of events led her to develop a binge-eating disorder.
Indeed, this is one of the biggest risks associated with restrictive dieting of any kind: it’s a slippery slope and can easily lead to an eating disorder in someone predisposed, as former registered dietitian Laura Cohen, certified intuitive eating practitioner and eating disorder recovery coach, previously told POPSUGAR.
Abbey Sharp, RD, the blogger behind Abbey’s Kitchen, shared her take on the matter as a nutrition professional: “If you attempt to lose 16 pounds in just what I will assume is three weeks, you are absolutely going to gain it all back, and research suggests you will probably gain more,” she says in an Instagram video she posted on May 3. “There’s also the psychological piece. If you’re cutting out all sugar and carbs and everything in your life that you want, you’re going to binge.”
On May 4, Reinhart tweeted in response to reactions to her Stories: “*sigh* I do not say the things that I say because I want to be relevant or get attention. I speak up because I don’t see enough people with large platforms calling out toxic behavior in our industry.”
Reinhart makes a great point: Kardashian’s comments are damaging, whether they reach five people or 500. But the fact is that her giant platform (307 million followers on Instagram alone) can be used to push for positive change or to perpetuate dangerous narratives. It’s more vital than ever to work on dismantling toxic diet culture and promote realistic body and beauty standards.
With that said, it’s difficult to talk about the Met Gala without also talking about the draft opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade is in grave danger, which leaked while the event was taking place. Kardashian and Reinhart are allowed to make whatever decisions they want about their own bodies — but our collective right to bodily autonomy is currently under fire.
At this pivotal moment in history, it’s impossible to talk about bodies and health without also acknowledging the importance of reproductive freedom and the crucial need to fight for it. Yes, abortion is still legal at the moment, but as it stands, it won’t be legal everywhere in the US for much longer — and just because it’s currently legal doesn’t mean it’s accessible.
Let’s not stop at calling out toxic behavior when it comes to health and how we talk about bodies — we also need to call out the severe damage that could come from losing control over them. Here’s what you can do to support abortion rights today.