Now we’re back in the swing of the new year, everyone seems to be ‘turning over a new leaf’ and starting on new exercise and eating plans.
I’ve seen lots of magazine articles with titles like “Celeb super-diet – lose 3kg this week” and “How the stars stay slim”. I know these articles are popular; I look at them myself. It’s natural to want to know how the beautiful people get and stay that way. If they can do it, we can, surely?
What the stories rarely emphasise is that for the ‘stars’ – mostly professional actors, musicians and TV stars – maintaining their bodies is a full-time occupation, and part of their jobs. They are paid, in part, for how they look, and so they must invest a great deal of time, energy and money into that project. That usually includes at least one personal trainer, a personal nutritionist and a personal chef. It will include intense amounts of exercise – a lot more than the three times a week regular people manage – and possibly quite extreme dieting. I am sure the pressure to look good and be a certain size is immense.
I’ve noticed that celebrities usually downplay this hard work, though, in interviews. I’m not sure why. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie star, when asked how she stays in shape, say “Well, I work out for hours every day, and follow a super-strict diet. Actually, I’m starving.” They’re more likely to make vague comments about yoga or pilates; or they say things like “I’m so busy on <insert name of TV show here> that’s all the exercise I need”. When it comes to food they speak of eating “no processed foods”, and “salad and fish for dinner”. Gwyneth Paltrow eats “fresh and natural foods” from her local farmers’ market. Kim Kardashian (according to reports) eats organic food and enjoys wheatgrass shots.
Celebrities also often make infuriating comments about loving to ‘pig out’ on junk food like burgers and pizza. Gwyneth claims to love food and hate dieting. And yet her exercise guru, Tracy Anderson, promotes a diet that has been described as dangerous by health experts (read one woman’s experience here). And most experts agree, you can’t get a celebrity body by exercise alone.
So where does all this leave us, the regular people? I worry that it leaves us feeling inadequate, as if we have failed somehow, because we can’t achieve the results we see in the magazines. I also worry that it sends an unrealistic message to young women, who are the ones most likely to try a faddy diet because they read that it works for their favourite celebrity. But once you’ve done a few extreme diets (because the weight always comes back) you’re off and running on the diet cycle of lose-gain-lose-gain-more that stays with some of us for a lifetime.
What do you think? Does reading about celebrities’ diet habits influence you? Do you believe what you read? And are there any celebrities who are actually inspiring, and good role models? We’d love to know your opinions in the comments below.