Country star LeAnn Rimes says her fluctuating size is due to ‘natural progressions,’ not yo-yo dieting or an eating disorder. ”I was going through a divorce and I couldn’t get out of bed, and so I gained 10 pounds,” she told the Associated Press, “and then I lose 10 pounds because now I’m moving around and I’m working … (weight loss) actually can happen, like, naturally. It’s a natural progression of life.”
Whether you believe Rimes or not, you’ve got to admire the way she’s been speaking out against the tabloid media’s obsession with pointing out every time a celebrity gains or loses a few pounds—and how this glib coverage could both exasperate and detract from the seriousness of real eating disorders. In an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last month, Rimes said the press is ‘irresponsible’ in labeling stars anorexic or bulimic, that it feigns concern while actually engaging in nothing more than ‘name-calling’ and ‘bullying.”
“I’ve kind of gotten over it when it comes to do with myself,” said Rimes, but “these are diseases and … I feel a sense of responsibility for the people that are actually going through these diseases. It seems like bullying now instead of really taking these diseases seriously that a lot of people are going through.”
I’m glad that Rimes is pointing out how this sort of coverage goes beyond just causing annoyance or distress for the celebrities in question. Suggesting that anyone who loses weight or looks skinny has an eating disorder isn’t ‘raising awareness’ about these diseases in any meaningful way; it’s sensationalizing them and simultaneously diminishing their seriousness by implying that eating disorders are simply about being a little bit skinny. It’s disease as spectacle.
It also perpetuates the idea that all women’s bodies are up for public comment—that it’s okay for anyone, any time, to go around commenting on whether a woman looks skinny or fat or is showing a ‘baby bump’ or might have a small zit somewhere or a quarter-inch pock of cellulite on her left thigh. And these things are not okay, whether you know the person or its a celebrity. Our bodies shouldn’t be a matter of public opinion. And unless you seriously, seriously believe someone’s health is in jeopardy, there’s no reason to point out when they’ve gained or lost weight.