The ultra-thin Heidi Montag pretends to gobble up tacos in an ad campaign for Taco Bell. Svelte Cameron Diaz professes to love nothing more than a good cheeseburger -- but have you ever seen her eat one? And skeletal Keira Knightley says she adores curries and eggs benedict, actually having an "eating contest" with fellow-skinny Sienna Miller, to see which starlet could consume the most. No comment on a purging contest afterwards.
Even in Paris Hilton's controversial Carl's Jr. ad, she is shown in a skimpy swimsuit pretending to fellate a hamburger so perhaps we won't notice she isn't actually eating it (spit bucket anyone?). It's the new fantasy of every male from pimply adolescents up to distinguished gentlemen -- a woman who looks like a super model but eats like a linebacker.
Women have long known this. I was recently interviewed on Fox News' morning show as to how I "caught" anorexia as a teen. (Note to Fox -- I didn't "catch" it. I learned it. Just like everyone else does.) One of the first tips I got from my friends was how to "save calories" for a big date. We'd starve -- literally -- during the week so that when we went out on the weekends we could eat like the men and not blimp out. Our dates would think we were one of the rare lucky (and uber-cool) girls who could eat her cake and keep her figure.
Hear this, men: It's not true. Whether you're drooling over a celebrity or the petite waitress at your favorite club -- we have to work hard to get there and stay there. Perhaps the only females, save a very small percentage who are sick or genetically blessed (estimated at 2-5% of the population), that don't have to work hard to stay slim are the prepubescent girls. And sadly we're already seeing the sexualization of that crowd.
A new survey from Shape magazine and The University of North Carolina backs this up. While it is true that participants were self-selected, their responses are eye-popping. Fully 75% of respondents have a full-blown eating disorder or disordered eating behaviors. The study finds that eating disorders cut across racial, socioeconomic and geographic lines -- extending to every group of women in our society.
* 75 percent of women report disordered eating behaviors or symptoms consistent with eating disorders; so three out of four have an unhealthy relationship with food or their bodies
* 67 percent of women (excluding those with actual eating disorders) are trying to lose weight
* 53 percent of dieters are already at a healthy weight and are still trying to lose weight
* 39 percent of women say concerns about what they eat or weigh interfere with their happiness
* 37 percent regularly skip meals to try to lose weight
* 27 percent would be "extremely upset" if they gained just five pounds
* 26 percent cut out entire food groups
* 16 percent have dieted on 1,000 calories a day or fewer
* 13 percent smoke to lose weight
* 12 percent often eat when they're not hungry; 49 percent sometimes do
So, what is it America -- will we continue to sacrifice our sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends and mothers in the pursuit of an airbrushed ideal? But look on the bright side -- maybe scientists will finally figure out asexual reproduction!