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The Kim Kardashian Ripple Effect

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This morning I woke up to this article in my news feed. 

I don’t follow any of the Kardashians. I never have. It’s all completely fabricated and a massive marketing campaign, for one thing; but mostly, it’s because I don’t enjoy looking at half-naked women contorted into sexual positions with the caption: ‘Monday morning’. What does this have to do with Monday? I don’t know about you but I wake up in trackies with a little bit of dribble crusted to my chin and the most epic messy bun you’ve ever seen. And I’m cool with it.

Normally, news about the Kardashians goes completely under my radar—I simply do not care what those women do. But this morning, I saw this and thought,  ‘No. This is not ok.’

I have spent the better half of 14 years helping people lose weight through changing their nutrition and eating habits. I’ve seen diets, supplements, programs, books, social media influencers, wellness warriors and everything in between come and go. All spurting their special philosophies, quick fixes, rules, powders, pills and shakes.

None of us are better for it. In fact, we are more confused, disempowered and frustrated than ever.

On top of that, we are all distinctly unsatisfied with our bodies. So much so that ‘appetite suppressing lollipops’ are a business idea set to take on heavy investment. Venture capitalists love ideas like this, because we—the consumer—are all too eager to hand our hard-earned dollars over to the next big thing to help us finally get the body we deserve or desire.

I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve met over the years, who talk to me with tears streaming down their faces about the disgust they feel about their bodies and how they can’t stick to [insert restrictive diet here]. Rather than blaming the diet they’re trying to stick to as being unrealistic and unhealthy, they blame themselves. Because they don’t look like an Instagram model it must be because they are lazy, unmotivated, disgusting and lacking willpower.

I mean this must be true, because according to Kim Kardashian, she works very hard to look the way she does. *Insert eye roll.*

It makes me sad that so many of us feel this pressure to look a certain way and that it consumes our lives. This used to be me. Every waking moment stressing about what went into my mouth and what I looked like in whatever I was wearing. I was plagued with thoughts about food, my body, negative self-talk, self-loathing, insecurity, self-doubt. It was incessant.

Regardless of how you feel about Kim Kardashian, you can’t deny that her presence in popular culture is polarising and she dramatically influences what is a dieting/body image culture full of shame, guilt, false imagery and—ultimately—a cultural pressure to look a certain way in order to be a valuable and important human being.

Her status on social media, the attention her behaviour gets from the press, is all on purpose. She is a multi-million-dollar commodity and I would argue that most of what she does on social media is intentional. Whether she truly understands the ripple effect of what she portrays has on women (and men), well only she can answer that, I bet we’ll never know.

The key point that riled me this morning, was the fact that words like anorexic got thrown around the internet. And not in a way that was about raising awareness or supporting individuals who struggle with what is a psychological disorder at its core, but in a way that made it something to aspire too. These posts and their subsequent news stories elevate these behaviours and mindsets to a status where they don’t belong.

They’re called social influencers for a reason. Most people don’t like thinking for themselves—they copy these individuals and aspire to be like them. We chew up digital content like scavengers!

Even if women don’t fall into full-blown eating disorders, just seeing a beautiful, adored woman on social media imply that ‘not eating’ is how she’s achieving her body shape means that these kinds of behaviours are frequently engaged in by individuals to achieve the same thing. I see it nearly every day—people skipping meals, severely restricting, avoiding social situations, cutting out food groups—all in the name of finally becoming skinny!

I’ll always be passionate about helping people learn how to eat well in our current environment. It’s not easy. We live extremely sedentary lives—sitting for most of the day—and we’re surrounded by processed, delicious, energy dense, nutrient poor food. It’s very easy to overeat. As such, learning how to eat well in this environment is a skill. And just like any skill it needs learning, refining, practising and individualising. Regardless of the goal, a person’s eating habits and their weight doesn’t determine their worth, their character or integrity as a person, nor does it make them ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Every one of my clients and members is told that they are worthy and precious humans, regardless of their weight and food habits, and that it’s only from a place of self-acceptance that they’ll truly find satisfaction in their bodies and create a foundation for positive self-care.

When it’s all said and done, it’s not ‘life’ if you spend it flogging yourself to be a certain weight or physique, especially if it’s leaving you worse for wear—physically or emotionally.

You only get to be in this life once. Accept your body the way it is. Create healthy eating habits that help you do life well, and don’t stop yourself from doing things just because you think you’re not skinny enough or beautiful enough to do it.

Swim in that beach. Climb that mountain. Ride that horse. Buy that dress. Book that holiday. Start that business. Write that blog. Find your soulmate. Have your family. Life’s too short.

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