I Can’t Believe I Ate A Whole Head Of Lettuce!

1_23_012607_skinnyOnce upon a time I wanted to look like a cover girl, despite whatever feminist consciousness I may have had.

It had not occurred to me that that wasn’t an option. It’s what my culture said I was supposed to look like. What I needed to look like to be truly valued.

Full of contradictions, I began my supermodel project. But in a healthy sort of way, I told myself. Wasn’t going to starve. No anorexia or bulimia for me.

I later came to see that I did end up with an eating disorder.

I became obsessed with food. How much had I eaten that day? Constantly counting calories. My worth depended upon how well I had kept my calories down.

At times I swung between overeating and starving. Very little starving – I wasn’t good at it.

I next developed an exercise obsession. You can’t get too much exercise, right? After developing a knee injury from jogging, I tried Nordic Track. Another knee injury. Next, I began walking three miles a day at a brisk pace. Yet another knee injury. Apparently, you can rub your cartilage too much from over-exercise and lack of rest. My physical therapist told me to start biking instead – and don’t overdo it! No more than four days a week, and no hills.

After all the food and exercise mania, I still looked nothing like a supermodel. One day standing in line at a grocery store I picked up People Magazine and read a story on how supermodels did it. I finally understood why I didn’t look like them, and never would.

Kim Alexis had tried every fad diet and at one point starved herself for four days straight.

Carol Alt went on a fruit-only diet. Later, she drank eight cups of coffee a day, and ate salad for dinner.

Andie Macdowell said many models took drugs to deal with the stress of starving.

What struck me most was when Kim Alexis said:

When I first started out, I was rooming in a New York City hotel with (supermodel) Kelly Emberg. One night I came home, and I was eating only a head of lettuce for dinner. Kelly walked in and said, “You’re eating a whole head of lettuce? How could you?” I cried and said, “But it’s all I’ve had all day. It’s not even 50 calories!”

To which I say, “Are you freaking kidding me?!” That big “cheat” would be insane dieting in my book. In anyone’s book, one would hope.

That’s when my hopes for supermodel slim were dashed.

Yes, I had been insane. But not that insane.

And it’s not just me. It’s society. What kind of crazy culture says women must feel guilty about eating a head of lettuce — or she won’t “look good”?

So I determined to gain my mental and physical health back. I’ve had ups and downs, but so far so good.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
How to Look Like a Victoria’s Secret Angel
Beautiful Women’s Hips Are Thinner Than Their Heads?
Spoon Fed Barbie

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on April 1, 2013, in body image, feminism, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. It’s one thing to be fit and trim, quite another to be gaunt and bony. I find most fashion models look like thin boys, not women. Real women have curves. And I like to eat, so I like to see women who don’t look afraid to enjoy a meal. Just be healthy and quit showing ribs.

  2. Thanks for writing. I first “realized” I was unacceptably “fat” when I was eight. I began trying to go hungry to remedy this “problem”. This was before TV’s onslaught and marketing saturation. Amazing. Where did it come from? Barbie? Mom’s magazines? People talking? Today’s messages are a thousand times stronger and more pervasive. Poor girls and poor all of us.

  3. Isn’t just crazy how society places so much pressure on women to be supermodel skinny. One of my favorite movies is “The Devil Wears Prada” and there was a scene where the girl literally counts what seem to be like 15 almonds to have as breakfast. A character in the movie opposite Anne Hathoway said she starved herself at a chance to go to Paris for the Paris fashion. Although, at the time, the movie was comical, I can see now how it’s trying to bring a really serious problem into a comedy movie for the viewers to make light of. I remember not long ago Marilyn Monroe was a beauty icon and she was curvy and everyone wanted to be like her. It’s too much work keeping with the society the beauty trend of the month.

  4. I was on diet when I just graduated from high school. I only ate one meal a day which is lunch and I went to dance every night. After dancing, I just went to sleep directly. It was fast to lose my weight like that. I think I lost about 20 pounds in a month at that time, for me, it was satisfied. Unfortunately, when the school started. I suddenly realized one thing. There are tons of girls that are more fit than me. At that time, I started to feel like I was fat and I was not pretty enough. So the pressure and depression made me start to overeat. For just one month, I became really fat. When I looked back at that time, I suddenly realized that I cared too much about how people look at me. I was afraid that they will judge me whether I look fat or not. I think no matter you want to diet or not, first of all, you have to know what you really want. You want to have a diet because you want to look thinner and not because you want people to think you are thinner.

  5. I think I a big contribution to why women (especially me) feel like they should look like supermodels is due to advertisements either be on a billboard, magazine or television commercial. The women show to have all the nice clothes, men to spare left and right, perfect smiles and faces, and full of confidence. A big one for me was fitting in “brand name” clothes and being considered pretty when I was in high school. All the girls where slim, toned just like the models and they had no trouble with acne/acne scars like I did. I wanted that supermodel body, and smile. I had really low self-esteem. I even had an eating disorder because i would starve in school, come home and overeat, then workout till late trying to burn all the food I had eaten at home. It was a couple of years out of high school that I embraced my curves, the changes I suddenly had physically grown into, but especially I realized that I would never have a models body because those models were born slim and I wasn’t and I would never be. I do have control of being healthy and taking care of who I want to be as a person.

  6. Elizabeth McMurray

    Thanks for sharing this post. It is hard to believe that eating lettuce would be considered a big “cheat” for anyone, even a supermodel. Unfortunately, the link between eating disorders and modeling is all too real. The women who won’t even eat a head of lettuce may be just what the modeling agencies are looking for. There have been reports of modeling agencies targeting anorexic girls outside of one of Sweden’s biggest eating disorder clinics (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2311029/Repugnant-talent-scouts-target-anorexic-girls-Swedish-eating-disorder-clinics.html). That type of behavior is appalling on so many levels. Apparently skinny is not enough. Super skinny is the new requirement. It’s quite obviously an unrealistic and unhealthy ‘ideal’ if they’re scouting for models at an eating disorder clinic.

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