I have to be honest: ever since last Monday, people have been asking me what I thought of the looks worn by the rich and elite at the Met Gala.
First of all, we as a country had much bigger things to worry about with the news of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court leak that (rightfully) made headlines later that night. Secondly, the Met Gala attempting to assign a “theme” has been a joke for years. So, to be honest, it isn’t even close to being one the most important fashion moments of the year for me.
But one thing did catch my attention and make me want to write about this: Kim Kardashian’s now infamous crash diet weight loss she put herself through in order to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress.
Why the Dress Itself Is Important
The dress was literally made for Marilyn. It was dyed perfectly to match her skin tone, and she was sewn into it right before her performance. It was a nude illusion dress that challenged the fashions of her time – as one of the most talked about figures in Hollywood, she came as close as she could to “baring” it all. In 2022, the style of the dress isn’t uncommon– showing more skin and “barely there” styles have been part of both high fashion runways and “ready to wear” styles for decades. The dress is iconic because of its moment in fashion and pop culture history and the wearer.
So KK taking this historical dress and trying to make that vision about her is all kinds of weird and wrong. For someone who has access to all the top designers and, to her credit, has done a lot of notable looks in the past, this whole moment was just a mess– especially knowing the extreme measures she went to.
If you want to know the specifics of KK’s weight loss in a certain timeframe or see pictures of the end results, you can google it – I am not even a little bit interested in further sensationalizing the specifics because it is NOT an achievement. But especially with summer approaching, which can mean “bikini season” or people being more concerned with natural ”imperfections” that feel more on display while dressing comfortably for warmer temperatures, it’s important to point out that if one of the inarguably most beautiful women in the world feels this kind of pressure, we aren’t immune to it either.
And I’ve personally witnessed this in recent client sessions. It seems like more of us are more critical about our weight than ever, ESPECIALLY when it comes into “fitting into” pre-pandemic work wardrobes or expecting your body to look the same in a swimsuit in 2022 as 2019.
Thankfully, by working with me, my clients are taking the initiative to help heal their relationships with their body and clothes. But what’s infuriating to me is the toxicity that is perpetuated by events like the Met Gala, and celebrities such as KK.
So no, KK admitting what she did in order to force her body to fit into a piece of clothing isn’t anything new. Here’s a quick list on why this makes me angry as someone who cares about how we perceive body image and fashion itself.
- Research shows that rapid weight fluctuations due to extreme dieting causes far more health risks than maintaining weight, including the risk of developing an eating disorder, other psychological consequences, and the fact that avid dieters are statistically more likely to gain that weight back in the long run.
- All clothing sizing is vanity sizing – being a size 10 means something different from brand to brand, and certainly over the course of several decades.
- Access to regular meals is a privilege in itself– and so is willingly starving yourself for the sake of vanity. Food is energy– the vast vast majority of us need that energy to perform our jobs, act as caretakers, and generally be human beings. Figures like KK have staff that can take care of all these things for them.
- KK and their famous family have done everything they can to erase or minimize physical features that don’t adhere to Western beauty standards, and enhance other features to emulate Black women. The fact that KK herself thought she could semi-undo all of that plastic surgery to emulate the famous figure of another famous celebrity shows that she herself isn’t content with her own pursuit of so-called perfection.
- Clothes are meant to fit your body– not the other way around. KK herself didn’t need to go to extremes to poorly imitate a look that was primarily iconic for its time, place, and context– not the dress itself.
- Marilyn Monroe herself was exploited and a victim of the patriarchy. KK’s intent to abuse her own body in order to “fit” into her historic dress shows how KK intends to uphold these patriarchal standards for beauty and femininity, instead of using the look in a different way to liberate Marilyn and honor her true legacy.
Even if you aren’t a KK trying to be a Marilyn for an evening, I hope you keep these things in mind as you try on new swimsuits or go through your summer stash of clothes. What if those things don’t fit? GET NEW THINGS. Be comfortable, feel sexy, and do everything you can to actually enjoy the sensations of sun on your skin or the perfect swish of a dress. With key reproductive rights under threat, we all need to intentionally and fully enjoy those moments to recharge and keep doing the work.