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Glorification of Starvation at the 2021 Met Gala

By September 20, 2021ANAD Blog

Written by Gabriella Giachin, Communications Coordinator

Last night I sat down to watch one of my favorite fashion events of the year: The Met Gala. I’ve worked in the event planning industry and I’m a lifelong fashion lover, so Met Gala night is always something I look forward to. This year, however, felt a little different. This year I felt as though I was watching with fresh eyes.

In the past few years, I have done a lot of self-exploration, much of which included recovering from a long-ignored eating disorder. With my recovery, I also got involved in volunteering with and working for ANAD (The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders). As the ANAD Marketing Coordinator, my thoughts are now filled with questions like, “What body-positive messaging can be shared this month?” and, “Which celebrities are good representatives of the anti-diet culture that we are trying to foster?” My whole world has become about promoting self-love and body acceptance, so my heart broke a bit as I watched the Met Gala this year from this new perspective.

Though the fashion was beautiful as always, what really stood out to me this year was the number of female celebrities who mentioned food or being hungry in their red carpet interviews. In this clip Gabrielle Union, a celebrity I’ve looked up to as a woman who stands for equality and self-acceptance, speaks about, “Looking forward to meeting my old friend – food.” She basically explains how she went on vacation and indulged in delicious meals, then starved herself for a week or so to fit into a dress that was custom-made for her body. If a dress that is custom-made for you doesn’t have the ability to be tailored to suit your real body, who is the dress actually made for? With all of the money being thrown around at the Met Gala, why does a wealthy, talented woman like Gabrielle Union need to alter her body to fit a dress, rather than have a dress be altered to her figure?

Now, this isn’t a criticism of Gabrielle Union or any of the many women who mentioned being hungry or being excited to eat tonight for the first time in a while. My point in mentioning these interviews is to say that, if you’re not in the head space that I am as someone who lives, eats and breathes eating disorder work and body acceptance messaging, the thought of starving to fit into a dress is normal. That normalization, and dare I say glamorization, of starvation is something that millions of people, especially women, sat down to consume and absorb on Monday night when they watched the Met Gala. When you sit down to watch something about fashion, you might not even realize that you’re internalizing the subliminal messaging telling you that thinness equals beauty and that reaching the beauty standard in this country likely means depriving your body of the fuel it needs to keep you alive. The fashion industry is undoubtedly negatively contributing to the eating disorder epidemic in the United States, and if the mention of hunger at the Met Gala doesn’t paint the perfect picture, I don’t know what else will.

So, in case you haven’t heard this yet today, or ever, your clothes should be made to fit you, not the other way around. Your body is beautiful and worthy, no matter the size or shape.