We should really start a column devoted solely to Victoria’s Secret model health advice, because it’s generally a hoot — either patently ridiculous coming from a model (“I swear I eat french fries three meals a day!”) or so obvious as to be utterly pointless. The latest diet and workout advice from 23-year-old Victoria’s Secret Angel Erin Heatherton falls into the latter category somewhat (“It’s important to be fit”). But then it veers into a category that can only be described as “supermodel logic.”
“A mistake a lot of girls make is that they work out but don’t eat enough,” Heatherton told the Daily Mail.
“If you’re not eating enough, all the work outs are doing, it’s not going to show. You could be doing a million butt lifts, but your butt is not going to get any bigger because there is nothing to build on. Your body needs food to make that happen.’
It’s infinitely preferable to hear models tout the benefits of eating rather than brag about subsisting on cigarettes & diet coke. But it’s just kind of funny that Heatherton’s explanation for why our bodies need food isn’t health or hunger but because it makes your butt look nicer. Not to fuel the twice-a-day workouts Heatherton cops to but so you don’t get too skinny, which would also be a travesty.
“It’s important to be fit,” she said, “but you shouldn’t get too skinny. You need to have curves.”
Again — a pleasingly far cry from the ‘you can never be too skinny’ speak of yore. But, again, Heatherton frames fitness in purely visual terms — while also perpetuating that skinny vs curvy dynamic we so hate.
I’m not alone in seeing this ostensibly empowering comment as slyly body negative. Ashley Cardiff at our sister site the Gloss writes taht statements like these imply “you’re not pretty and womanly, naturally thin girls!” And Sasha Brown-Warsham at The Stir notes that “the notion of ‘too’ anything is actually not helpful.
People’s bodies are, in part, genetic. We can work out to our heart’s content, but some of us will be naturally thinner than others and some will be naturally heavier. I know women who run 10 miles a day and still look overweight, and I know women who do nothing and are very thin.”
In an attempt to ward off the usual round of “OMG YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS YOU SHREW” comments that accompany any pretty female celebrity snarking or criticism, let me just say: I find Heatherton darling. Really, I think she’s way cute. And I also know that’s it’s not terribly fair to mock models for giving vapid health advice when media outlets are constantly demanding they give vapid health advice.
Still: A lot of impressionable girls and women read this kind of advice, and it so often sends confusing, conflicting, negative or unhealthy messages. Just once, I’d love to hear a model say that diet and exercise are important for reasons unrelated to looks.