The comparison of Gillian McKeith (sometimes erroneously referred to as Karan Diwan) vs. Nigella Lawson—pointing out that Lawson smokes, drinks, eats meat and desserts and looks fab, while McKeith is a health guru who, it’s implied, looks not-so-fab—first started circulating around the internet through chain mail, and now it’s resurfacing on Facebook. But wherever you happen to come across it, I implore you: Don’t share it. It’s trash. Even if you think you’re making a smart point about why certain diets and lifestyles are b.s., you’re doing so in a way that bashes females, prizing beauty and sending messed-up messages about the importance of health. (And sorry, but your point about diets and lifestyles is not that smart.)
The newest iteration I’ve seen of the McKeith and Lawson poster looks like this:
And the original email (which referred to McKeith as Karan Diwan) contained the following photo and text:
Karan Diwan is a 51 year old TV health guru advocating a holistic approach to nutrition and health, promoting exercise, a vegetarian diet of organic fruits and vegetables. She recommends detox diets, colonic irrigation and supplements, also states that yeast is harmful, that the colour of food is nutritionally significant, and the utility of lingual and faecal examination.
Nigella Lawson is a 50 year old TV cook in Great Britain , who eats nothing but meat, butter and desserts.
I rest my case..
Both are offensive.
In both cases, it’s insinuated that attractiveness is a) the most important feature of women (above health), and b) a valid marker of someone’s overall health. They also assume that we should all be measured along the same standards of beauty (god forbid anyone actually find McKeith attractive because she doesn’t have huge breasts or the facial features that have been idealized on film and tv), and they gloss over the fact that genetics play a big role in aging and attractiveness. Sound familiar? This isn’t a far cry from the ridiculous weight and beauty standards promoted by advertising; both are aimed at whittling down a woman’s worth and making her feel that her looks are more important than anything else.
And honestly, what do we really know about what either of these women eats or does with her body? As one Facebook commenter pointed out:
Hey, they are two entirely different people! Gillian didn’t rise to fame because of her famous rich parentage and good looks. And because of this and her view on health Gillian hasn’t decided to keep her career going by filling her face full of filler and botox. Good on them both but slating one because she isn’t as sexy as the other??
Indeed, every woman is different. Chalking up one woman’s good looks to her drinking, smoking, and butter-rich diet isn’t any more constructive than all the articles claiming that it’s possible to look like an actress if you only eat kale and coconut water. Everyone’s body is different, and everyone responds differently to various foods and lifestyle choices. Dairy gives some women acne; some people swear that they can’t function well on a vegan diet.
And let’s not forget mental health: When even our friends and family are sending us damning messages about beauty, aging and health, no amount of butter OR cleansing will make us feel happier with our bodies and ourselves. So, my dear Facebook friends, please stop demonizing women for their personal choices, and stop telling your friends that their beauty is more important than your health.