Is Miley Cyrus a singer or an actress or both or crap at both things but somehow coasting along out of sheer luck and a good publicist? I have no idea. I know only two things: her dad is Billy-Ray Cyrus, and she weighs something stone something. I do know the exact figures for this; I’m just not telling you. It’s in this week’s Star magazine. Actually, it’s not even in it; it’s on the cover, along with the weights of Nikki Grahame, Abbey Crouch and Nadine Coyle.
I saw this while shopping in Sainsbury’s. It put me right off my food, and my body, and myself. There are, apparently, even more facts and figures regarding underweight celebrities if you look inside. I didn’t look inside. The cover was enough.
So, why give the (assumed) weights of underweight celebrities? Is it because Star magazine is worried about them? Well, no, I’m not a complete idiot. It’s because it sells. Women and girls with eating disorders love this shit. But you’re not allowed to actually write “this is what you should look like, fatso” next to a picture of an emaciated celebrity. Or rather, you probably are allowed but it’s not considered good form. So you couch it in fake concern.
10% of women with anorexia will die. It shouldn’t be this socially acceptable to display anorexia porn at eye level to people buying their Guatemalan coffee.* It just shouldn’t. So I have decided to write to my local MP.
Is this a ridiculous idea? Writing to your local LibDem (yes, I know! Hangin’ on in there!) to point out that, actually, you find the cover of celebrity magazines a bit offensive, and didn’t want to know the body mass of someone who may or may not still be in Girls Aloud, and could this please be mentioned at the next PMQs? Or could they even table a motion, whatever that means? Or motion a table, if that’s easier? But the thing is, MPs have made a fuss about pro-ana sites before, so why not this? It’s worse; attacking pro-ana sites strikes me as victim-blaming. Anorexics do whatever they need to do to make the long days with fuck all to eat and a brain being driven round the twist slightly more bearable. With Star magazine, it’s just the strong preying on the weak, for money. Should this really go unchallenged?
I don’t necessarily want it to be banned. For starters, it would be a legislative nightmare, and might even descend into just attacking thin women for being thin and thus encouraging others to be thin (sorry, I forgot; we do that already). I just want some loud, formal acknowledgement that what magazines like Star are doing IS BAD. And that NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT WHAT A CELEBRITY SHE HAS NEVER MET WEIGHS UNLESS THIS PERSON HAS AN EATING DISORDER HERSELF, IN WHICH CASE KNOWING THE CELEBRITY’S WEIGHT CAN ONLY DO HARM.** This strikes me as self-explanatory. Shouldn’t there at least be some degree of shame? And if not my MP, whom do I contact? The shit magazine police?
Anyhow, this is my email:
Dear [name of plucky hanging-on-in-there LibDem]
I am writing to you to express my concern about the proliferation of what I can only term “anorexia porn” in celebrity magazines such as Heat and Star. A recovered anorexic, I am genuinely disturbed that it has become acceptable for such publications to display emaciated, clearly ill women on their covers and inside their pages out of some fake concern for these women’s well-being.
I cannot see what would motivate a person to buy magazines with such features unless it was to fuel an existing or developing eating disorder. The current issue of Star, for instance, includes actual weights of underweight women on the cover. Generally, another person’s weight is of no interest; if you are anorexic or bulimic, it’s fascinating. It might make a person buy the magazine and it might also cause a deterioration in this person’s condition.
Since MPs have previously drawn attention to “pro-ana” sites and the use of underweight models in magazines and on the catwalk, I really think this is an issue that should be made more public. Thin catwalk models are not, I believe, promoting anorexia in quite the same, direct yet entirely hypocritical way that Star is doing. Obviously if the headlines were “this is what you should weigh!” it would be a lot easier. But I think you would find any eating disorders counselor would support me in saying that this active promotion of magazines on the basis that you will be told exactly how low another person’s weight is is damaging and requires far greater public condemnation. I would be extremely grateful if you could use your position to play a part in highlighting this.
[me, but the pompous, serious version, including the “Dr” title]
Yeah. This’ll make ALL the difference.
* My partner insists on having Guatemalan coffee. He quite liked it, then read somewhere that only the true connoisseur likes Guatemalan coffee, so then he totally loved it. I humour him. It’s drinkable, and the Percol version has a photo of a monkey on the bag.
** I used a female pronoun here but do acknowledge men have EDs too. It’s just “him- or herself” messes up the flow of full-on ranting to which I aspire.
POSTSCRIPT: I have since remembered that part of my confusion about Miley Cyrus comes from the fact that I always confuse her with Hilary Duff. Didn’t they both used to do similar things? Mind you, it’s all changed now. I’ve finally got the respective roles straight: Cyrus = “being too thin”, Duff = “needs to lose baby weight”.