Lately I've been ragging on celebrities- Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and now... Jessica Simpson. I've written about Jessica Simpson in the past (here and here) because she has been involved in many efforts to encourage women to examine what real beauty is, both through her show, Price of Beauty, and through her work with Operation Smile. She was also on Oprah a few months ago, sharing her thoughts about beauty, body image, and her renewed sense of self. At one point, she got teary-eyed and when Oprah asked her what she was feeling, she responded that she was frustrated by the pressure put on women by the media to be thin.
Well, this week, Simpson posted on twitter that she has started a strict vegan diet. While she later added that this diet has nothing to do with weight loss, and only has to do with being healthy, I was a little disappointed and surprised that after her campaign to focus on health, beauty and accepting her body, that she would publicly discuss her 'strict vegan diet' that she says 'shocked her system.' Because she has made body image and beauty her platform, it seems irresponsible of her to mention her latest fad restrictive vegan diet. Diets, as I have preached and preached about, are ineffective and BAD (why? find out here). If Simpson chooses to follow a vegan diet, that is her choice, but to announce that she has started a new diet puts the focus in the wrong place, whether this diet has to do with weight loss or not. Some may disagree with me, and that is ok! But I think that it would be better if she kept that information to herself, especially due to her history of engaging in fad and yo-yo diets and the ongoing scrutiny over her weight- as anyone hearing about her latest diet would naturally assume it has to do with weight loss (as all of her other diets have been in the past).
Our society is obsessed with dieting, who is eating what, losing weight fast, bodies, etc. It's tough to go onto facebook or twitter anymore without reading a status update or tweet about some kind of disordered behaviors/thoughts regarding food and exercise. I'm not calling anyone out here or thinking of certain people as I write this (well, maybe Jessica haha), but the more we call attention to these things, the more we are playing into the unhealthy dynamic created by the media. As much as Jessica Simpson has experienced criticism and pressure from the media, I would think that she would not want to perpetuate the focus and value on such things herself. I am afraid that by making a public point to share her latest diet plan, she is compromising the stance she has been trying to model with health and beauty. It's not that all of her progress and encouragement to women has been completely wasted and forgotten, but she is sending some pretty mixed messages. From here on out, it might be more helpful for her to refrain from promoting or discussing her current meal plan. And so should everyone else. We don't need a play by play via facebook or twitter about how many pounds you lost last week or how fat you feel or how intense your exercise routine is or how you can fit into your skinny jeans again. Food nourishes our bodies, it gives us energy and fuel to think well and be active. Let's keep the focus there and spend the rest of our energy, time and thoughts on things that matter more, like family, friends, our careers, and making the world a better place.