When Kim Kardashian admitted losing 16lbs in just three weeks in order to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress for the Met Gala on Monday evening, she was just the latest in a long line of celebrities to try a crash diet before a major event.
The reality star admitted that she cried when she realised she didn’t fit into Monroe’s dazzling outfit during a first try-on but went on to lose more than a stone so she could model the famous 1962 Jean Louis design on the New York red carpet.
“I had to lose 16lbs to fit into it,” she told Vogue. “I would wear a sauna suit twice a day, run on the treadmill, completely cut out all sugar and carbs and just eat the cleanest veggies and protein. I didn’t starve myself but I was so strict.”
While her supporters admired glamorous look, many critics also took to social media to criticise the 41-year-old star for talking openly about her rapid weight loss with many saying it is harmful or irresponsible.
One of those critics was Claire Harris, who is recovering from anorexia. She believes any glamourising of crash diets could be hugely harmful, particularly for the estimated 1.25- 3.4m people in the UK who are thought to suffer from some kind of eating disorder.
“It’s very unhealthy and is giving a very poor message out to the millions of people who follow her,” says Harris, 44, founder of a pet business in Milton Keynes.
Watch: Kim Kardashian changed into replica dress to avoid damaging £4m Marilyn Monroe gown
“To lose that much weight in such a short space of time must mean that she starved herself – something which can cause lifelong problems. These celebrities influence people and I worry that her followers might copy her. Yet they have no idea of the damage they could be doing to their bodies.
“I had anorexia throughout my late teens and early twenties but once it’s in your head, it never really leaves. It’s a dangerous road to go down and better to never start. We need a lot more positive body image in the media instead of tiny actresses and influencers who are so thin. It’s simply not achievable for everyday people and it’s such an unhealthy image for people to look up to.”
Kardashian is not the only celebrity to try bizarre crash diets to lose weight quickly. Singer Beyonce once admitted to Oprah Winfrey that she had tried The Master Cleanse diet for a movie role. Users skip real food and live on only a mixture of lemonade, water, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper for anything from four to 14 days. Actors Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher have also tried the plan.
Another ‘problematic’ regime is the Baby Food Diet, created by celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson. Proponents eat up to 14 jars of baby food per day and celebs who have allegedly tried this plan include Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga.
Nutritionist Kim Pearson runs a weight loss clinic in Harley Street with several celebrity clients and agrees that these overly strict diets can affect physical and mental health.
“We often see celebrities who need to achieve a certain physique for a film role, photoshoot or event,” she says. “I’m currently working with a well known singer prior to her tour this summer. Often there isn’t a lot of notice so we need to achieve maximum results in a short space of time. But one thing I am never prepared to do is compromise health for the sake of weight loss.
“Losing 16lbs in three weeks might be possible but for most people, achieving this would require an overly restrictive regime. This can negatively affect both our physical and mental health. Crash dieting can cause menstrual irregularities, compromise immunity, deplete energy levels and affect digestive function. Over time, it can lead to loss of bone density, hair loss and muscle loss.”
In an Instagram story after the Met Gala, Kardashian took to Instagram to admit that she was starving and proceeded to share images of doughnuts and boxes of pizza. She explained that she hadn’t “had carbs or sugar in almost a month” and was “so excited” about eating the calorie-laden foods.
“This is unsurprising as crash dieting and over-restriction often results in a subsequent binge,” says Kim Pearson. “Going from a restrictive low-carb, low-sugar diet to eating highly processed, deep fried and high sugar foods is really not a good idea.
“The message it gives to younger people who look up to celebrities like Kim Kardashian concerns me – not to mention those with eating disorders or who are susceptible to disordered eating. We should never compromise health for the sake of losing weight.”
Eating disorders charities agree, saying they too are concerned about public figures like Kardashian becoming ‘thinspiration’ for people who admire them.
“Dieting and weight loss advice can be very attractive to those affected by eating disorders, who may treat it as ‘inspiration’ to carry out dangerous eating disorder behaviours,’ says Tom Quinn, of BEAT eating disorders charity. ‘We strongly urge anyone affected by an eating disorder or worried about their health to not attempt to copy any dieting tips they hear and to contact their GP or care team if feeling unwell.”
For support please visit Beat Eating Disorders