It’s no secret that our society has unrealistic standards of beauty. Calvin Klein abs. Kate Moss cheekbones. Thigh gaps and #belfies. But here’s the truth: Maintaining perfectly chiseled muscles is a joyless, obsessive existence. Both male and female models practice regular starvation diets and drastic cut phases. It’s unsustainable and physically ruinous. Here’s why you should never follow model diets:
Model diets and the bodies we celebrate are fake. The men and women in those photographs go home and pull at their drooping necks and wish they looked more like their own photographs. That is so effed up.
Don’t compare yourself to a fake standard. When you look at a Marvel comic book, do you think you could ever achieve a body like Wonder Woman or Superman? Of course not. They’re fictitious. And so are all the bodies you see in magazines. Period.
Health vs. Aesthetics
Muscle-bound bodybuilders are incapable of running a mile. Waify fashion models are wimpy and atrophied. Their bodies are the antithesis of fitness and function. And boys, ever feel inferior when looking at Hugh Jackman’s X-Men body? He’s fake too. As Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness explains, action hero abs are tailored for looks, not strength:
“Actors have very tight schedules and have to work out in a way that builds the most amount of flashy muscle in the least amount of time. They don’t need to worry about actually being strong, they just need to LOOK big and strong. In order to do so, they follow a five days per week muscle-isolation schedule that pumps their muscles up without building a proportional amount of strength, combining this routine with a specially designed diet compliments of a personal nutritionist,” said Steve.
Focus on Water Weight
Model diets induce extreme weight loss regimes before runway shows or photo shoots. Then these torturous methods are published in magazines as star-approved slim downs. But these methods cause water and muscle loss, not fat loss. The most famous example? Liquid diets, such as the lemon, cayenne and maple syrup diet.
Also known as the “Master Cleanse,” this liquid diet has been around for decades. Sure, lemon is rich in vitamin C and flavonoids, cayenne pepper stimulates metabolism, and maple syrup contains antimicrobials and antioxidants. But drink only that? That’s entirely unsafe. Plus, the water weight you lose comes right back. Or, in many cases, never comes off at all:
Erin Kelly at the Daily Mail chronicled her personal experience on the Master Cleanse. She was sleepless, unable to focus, and totally miserable: “My eyes have huge, dark circles under them. When I think of the past few days – the lost work, the near-death experiences behind the wheel, the boredom and deprivation – I wonder what the point of it was.”
Contributors to this discussion feed on My Fitness Pal reported weight gain, stomach cramps, and nausea. The thread has since been locked. My Fitness Pal admins flagged it for “promoting unsafe weight loss techniques” – a big forum violation. This forum details the struggle and confusion of many women who gain weight on the Cleanse. Why is this happening? The body’s starvation mode is slowing metabolism and storing all calories as fat.
Model Diets Make You Hangry
In order to achieve unnatural thinness, model diets often resort to pills and purging. In an effort to rev up metabolism they experience elevated heart rates, shortness of breath, crazy mood swings, even fainting.
Touted as an “all natural” weight loss miracle supplement, Hoodia is made from a cactus native to Africa’s Kalahari Desert. In 2011, the FDA issued a warning that says clearly, “If you bought it, throw it away!” Hoodia supplements contain sibutramine, a chemical that paradoxically causes increased (even extreme) appetite, insomnia, dizziness, drowsiness, and joint/muscle pain. Now banned in numerous countries, it’s known to cause heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, and stroke. Despite this, it is still widely consumed in the fashion industry.
How about a vomit-inducing syrup? Yum. A fashion-industry staple, model diets use ipecac to purge extra calories and water weight. With repeated use, the toxins in ipecac build up in the muscles of the body, leading to muscle wasting – most dangerously (and irreversibly) in the heart. Thus, it’s a major cause of heart failure, irregular heart beats, and extreme fatigue (common in most bulimics).
This is self-inflicted violence, people. Efforts to improve your physique should involve self-love and care. Not vomit syrup. I think Jimmy would agree. That’s just EW!
Fashion Designers Influence
Models are hangers, people. Their thinness and adolescent pallor is valued so they’ll blend into the background. Stylist and fashion industry expert David Zyla said, “Models chosen are typically slim and androgynous…so that audiences are not distracted by a curvy hip or full bosom.”
You don’t want to be a hanger, right? You’ve got, like, intrinsic value and stuff. Let’s stop glamorizing and emulating them. Maintaining a model body is a full-time job and a joyless way to spend your life
Maintaining this unnatural body shape is a model’s full-time job. Their appearance is under constant scrutiny. Imagine if your income was dependent not on your mental acumen, problem-solving, or communication skills – but solely on your BMI. Sounds horrible to me. Many models live in perpetual starve-eat-hate cycles. Food is an enemy and eating is joyless. Living this way has repercussions on your nervous system, emotional health, and self-worth.
‘Sexy’ isn’t Necessarily Healthy
Leopard speedos? Not my idea of sexy. Now, I don’t discredit that body confidence plays a huge role in sexiness. If you feel good in your skin, you’ll give off sizzling inner confidence. (Eye contact and a coy smile? Gets me every time!) So that’s the nuance. If you feel sexy, you are sexy. But just “looking” sexy – as defined by our narrow standards for beauty – doesn’t mean you’re more attractive.
Because killing yourself with a Master Cleanse or gymorexia will rob you of energy, lower your sperm count, suppress testosterone, and totally kill your sex drive. You need clean energy from real food for a sexy libido and healthy pheromones. Whey powder or lemon water won’t cut it. So if model diets aren’t the answer, what is?
Eat whole foods
When you eat clean foods (instead of vomit syrup) you feel more energetic, focused, and emotionally stable. Nourishing healthy foods – like fruits and vegetables – make you invulnerable to mood swings, impervious to stress, and add years to your lifespan.
Find an activity that’s not a chore, but that pushes you to breathe heavy and dig deeper. It could be kickball. It could be weightlifting. Or just chasing the kids around the yard. You’ll feel sexier, less stressed, and more energetic.
Set Realistic Goals.
Don’t try to have a supermodel body. Instead, set goals to run a 5k, bike to work, or improve your heart health. Those are realistic, attainable goals.
Block Out Body-shaming
This is easier said than done, of course. So let’s support each other, k? Find a gym that values functional fitness. Join a meet-up of like-minded athletes. Unsubscribe from Shape and Cosmo.
Love Your Routine
Focus on your killer smile, your adorable outie belly button, or your super strong calves. We all wish our glutes were tighter or our knees less knobby. But, hey, there are so many other positives to focus on!
Don’t Emphasize Aesthetics
How about intelligence, charisma, inner peace, and fulfillment? You’re really awesome on the inside, too. Remembering that will help you exude it.