culture / Jordan Upshaw / October 2016

Supermodel Diet: College Student Edition

Lucky for us, we live in a world where being beautiful, for some, is a full-time job. But since “Torturing Myself into the Shape and Look Society has Chosen” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as a job title, we went with Supermodel. And for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to try to eat like one for two weeks. (Spoiler alert: I made it five days.)

Finding out exactly what supermodels eat was difficult—it’s hard to pin down, since there are some who survive on black coffee and cigarettes. I was expecting to find an “official supermodel diet” in Cosmo or someplace, but there wasn’t one.

What I found instead was a woman who had the time and money to really do the experiment right. She hired a personal trainer who’s also a former supermodel and works exclusively with supermodels, bought the few but expensive foods items she was allowed to eat—the whole kit and caboodle. But I’m a college sophomore. I don’t have the money for that shit. So instead of the full supermodel experience, I used her experiment to create the more economical, Supermodel Diet: College Student Edition.

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Supermodels are supposed to represent “ideal” beauty. And supposedly we should all aspire to the ideal, even college students who are surviving off of dining hall pasta bolognese, Red Bull, and salty 8 am tears. The original diet included things like egg whites and kale but I would’ve been laughed out of the dining hall if I’d asked for those things, so I had to improvise.

Breakfast was usually a banana. Lunch and dinner were salads, sometimes with tofu or avocado if I was lucky. That’s right, I ate 2-3 salads every fucking day. Fucked up. On day two I got a ride to Price Chopper and spent $14.85 on some supermodel-approved tofu which was $14.85 more than I wanted to spend. But desperate times and all that jazz. I invested in a tub of nonfat, unflavored Greek yogurt. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting nonfat, unflavored Greek yogurt to taste like but I wasn’t prepared for how truly horrendous it was. It tasted like something a mother would force a toddler to eat to counteract the acrylic paint they just drank. The most disturbing part by far: there are people who eat this yogurty monstrosity every day. This shit should not exist in a civilized society.

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By day three I discovered that no matter how many vegetables you eat it’s impossible to feel satisfied. After meals I wasn’t full in the traditional sense of the word; I still craved food but I stuffed my body with vegetables and water until nothing else would fit. I felt bloated and unable to eat, but still hungry. As a lifestyle, this is not sustainable at all. People say that supermodels can’t think, the logic there being they’re too pretty to think or something else that’s just fucking wrong. But maybe they’re just fucking hungry.

By day four I was in a hell of my own making. I no longer enjoyed eating. My mouth seemed to taste permanently of spinach. I would probably pass out if I tried to do any real exercise. I was ready to fall asleep at any point during the day which wasn’t great for doing homework. On day five I got really lightheaded in the shower and had to get out before I fainted. The last time that happened I had mono. I decided it was time to stop this shit.

Now, I understand why girls drop out of college to become models. It’s not like you hear about girls working their way through college by modeling. Stripping, selling their used underwear, waitressing, sure. But not modeling. Unless you happen to have way more time and money than the average student, it’s nearly impossible to adhere to the strict diet and exercise regimen. If you rely entirely on dining hall food, you’re fucked. And most likely you’ve also passed out and are lying on the ground somewhere outside your dorm. Are you okay? Can I call someone for you?

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So it turns out being a supermodel isn’t for me. But should it really be for anyone? No. No, it shouldn’t. By the last day of this project I didn’t even want to eat anymore. But maybe that’s the point. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the 94% of supermodels are fucked up for eating this way–it’s that society is fucked up for expecting it of them. Fun fact: The World Health Organization classifies anyone with a BMI of under 18.5 as malnourished. The average supermodel’s BMI is 17.3. That’s right folks, they are literally starving themselves and the vast majority of us seem to be fine with that.

I’m not saying that modeling itself should be banned. If your dream is to be, like, super beautiful and get paid for it, then do it. Follow your dreams. But you shouldn’t have to hurt your body in order to do it. We can fix this shit without ending it. Last year France enacted a law banning models with a BMI lower than 18.5. Fucking good for France. That law is a big deal, but it shouldn’t be. Not forcing women to starve themselves seems like a bit of a no brainer. It’s 2016, time to step up to the plate, America.

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