This is not fashion — this is disordered eating

Kennedy Bustos, Staff Writer

Trigger warning: Mention of disordered eating

The Met Gala — a spring staple, an event for absurdly affluent members of society to parade around in designer clothes and remind the world that they scored the much-coveted invitation. The event is almost always highly publicized as pop culture enthusiasts and the general public alike flock with anticipation to gaze at the stars in all of their glory. The fashion is often as extravagant as the money spent on the bash; whether any given celebrity is on the best or worst dressed list, their look is considered a success if people talk about it. 

If anyone relishes this talk-of-the-town phenomenon, it’s Kim Kardashian. Her Met Gala look made a statement, as many of her looks do, but perhaps not the statement she sought.

Kardashian dressed in the gown Marilyn Monroe wore when she famously — or infamously, depending on who you ask — serenaded John F. Kennedy with a sultry rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ in 1962. The dress, a custom translucent-appearing Jean-Louis gown accented with over 6,000 hand-sewn crystals, is touted by Guinness World Records as the world’s most expensive dress.

Kardashian was determined to wear Monroe’s historic dress to Met Gala 2022: themed “Gilded Glamour and White Tie.” After being granted permission to wear the dress for the event, Kardashian vowed to do whatever it took to fit into it.

In an interview with Vogue, Kardashian detailed the extreme measures she took to contort her body’s measurements to Monroe’s dress: including wearing a sauna suit, restricting food groups and exercising frequently. Kardashian asserts, “I didn’t starve myself, but I was so strict.” Yet, the measures Kardashian is describing are the very nature of starvation … for a dress that she only wore “for a matter of minutes” due to its “fragile nature and historical value.” 

Kim Kardashian is one of the wealthiest, most influential figures in the world. Kardashian’s platform is vast and spacious — so much could be done, could be said, to promote change and encourage empowerment. Instead, her platform is being used as a breeding ground to promote harmful habits aligned with disordered eating. Many popular media outlets, including People Magazine, Buzzfeed News, Us Weekly and Entertainment Weekly, are presenting Kim Kardashian’s measures without significant critique. 

Us Weekly calls Pete Davidson a “supportive king” for comforting Kardashian whilst she “worried” about fitting into the gown. Adorned with an almost comical ignorance, Buzzfeed News states, “Say what you want, but when Kim puts her mind to something, she delivers.” Entertainment Weekly declared Kardashian as the “icing on the cake at the 2022 Met Gala.”

Kardashian shared a wish to honor Monroe’s memory by wearing her dress to the Met Gala … and she did, with heartbreaking irony. Despite Monroe’s legacy being largely synonymous with her appearance, Monroe held deep-seated insecurities surrounding her looks. Before her rise to fame, Monroe underwent an array of cosmetic surgeries: including a nose job, overbite correction, a chin implant and even electrolysis on her hairline. Kardashian, of course, is no stranger to contorting her body to fit a particular aesthetic: her shapewear line, SKIMS, promising “solutions for every body” is worth over $3 billion. 

In her last interview before her death, Monroe confessed, “I’m one of the world’s most self-conscious people. I really have to struggle … Everyone’s always tugging at you. They’d like sort of a chunk of you.” Monroe’s legacy was potent in both life and death, yet she still held the same insecurities that consume so many of us.

To be clear, this is not a critique of Kim Kardashian: she is merely a product of our society and its warped perception of beauty. Our bodies are not problems that require solutions. Our bodies are not aesthetics. Our bodies are vessels that carry us through life. 

Kardashian succeeded in her climb to the top of the best-dressed lists — but at what cost?