By Monika Barton
Back in 1962, Marilyn Monroe sang a sexy version of 'Happy Birthday' to President John F. Kennedy, instantly creating an iconic pop-cultural moment.
She dropped her white fur coat to reveal a sheer, form-fitting glittering gown by Bob Mackie that was super controversial for its time - especially because Marilyn apparently chose to wear nothing underneath to make sure the fit was flawless.
Fast-forward to 2022, and Kim Kardashian is wearing the historic garment to the Met Gala in homage to American fashion. Not only that, but she's telling anyone who will listen that she dropped 16 pounds - that's around 7kg - in less than three weeks in order to fit into the dress.
The reality TV star said she "wanted to cry" when the gown didn't fit at first, because for obvious reasons, it couldn't be altered. The solution? Not to get a replica made, or to wear something different altogether, no. Kim decided to alter her body instead.
Kim told Vogue all about the lengths she went to with extreme exercise and diet restrictions in the lead up to the Met Gala, but we've decided not to detail that here.
"I didn't starve myself," she insisted, "but I was so strict."
Is this starting to sound pretty freaking disturbing to anyone else?
Turns out, yes - Kim's crash dieting has been dubbed "unhinged", "appalling" and "frankly disgusting" all over the internet, but more on that soon.
On the night, Kim proudly told red carpet host La La Anthony the whole experience was "such a challenge" - maybe get a new hobby, babe? Just saying - and giggled about all the doughnuts and pizza she would chow down in her hotel room later.
The 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' star has left people hurt and disappointed with her brazen disregard for how toxic diet culture is, and there's no doubt her comments will do damage.
Our very own Meg Mansell, who has been open about her history with eating disorders, says she was "really disappointed and gutted" to hear Kim's words.
"You should never have to try and fit into a dress, it's the dress' job to fit you," she said.
"It's not something to look up to, losing that amount of weight in that short a time, and then openly talking about binging food afterwards.
I wish I could take those words back for everyone who has had to hear them.
We also chatted to Dr Victoria Thompson, an Auckland-based clinical psychologist who specialises in eating disorders, who says Kim's glorification of disordered eating habits is a major cause for concern.
"Kim is responsible for how she treats her own body, but the difficulty comes in glamorising extreme restriction and exercise as well as detailing her methods for the weight loss," Dr Thompson explains.
"Kim normalises these things as something to be celebrated."
Dr Thompson added that dieting is one of the strongest predictors of eating disorders, especially for those who start at an early age, and evidence suggests young women are very vulnerable to the influence of celebrity and social media in shaping their own expectations of their body.
Apparently, engaging in extreme restriction even for a short period of time can trigger an eating disorder at a neurobiological level - which is wild, and shows just how dangerous this stuff really is.
Crash-dieting and rapid weight loss are extremely detrimental to your health. It can slow your metabolism - leading to future weight gain - and deprive your body of essential nutrients. This kind of restricted eating can also weaken your immune system and increase your risk of dehydration, heart palpitations, and cardiac stress.
We also heard from Edge whānau who have battled or are still suffering from disordered eating, and many of you have already felt the negative impact of the frenzy around Kim's look.
"It sends out a really scary message," one Edge listener tells us.
"I started making jokes about applying the extreme diet to my own life for an upcoming event, being like, ‘I could do that,' and then seconds later I was like, 'Jesus, that’s a dangerous path to go down."
"When I was in the middle of an eating disorder I was often googling celeb crash diets for 'inspiration' and to normalise what I was doing," another says.
They have no idea the damage it can cause talking about unrealistic timelines like Kim has.
It's far from the first time that Kim has come under fire for promoting messed up ideals when it comes to body image. Remember when she squeezed herself into a corset so tiny it gave her a waist the size of a Bratz Doll and rendered her unable to sit or eat at the 2019 Met Gala?
How about when she endorsed a range of 'Appetite Suppressant Lollipops' and a weight-loss shake from the same company, Flat Tummy Co? Yuck.
Finally, Kim also perpetuated a long-running myth about Marilyn Monroe - that she was a size 16.
"I always thought she was extremely curvy," Kim told Vogue. "I imagined I might be smaller in some places where she was bigger and bigger in places where she was smaller. So when it didn't fit me I wanted to cry."
Marilyn has long been a body positivity icon and was admired for the way in which she owned her sexuality and redefined what it meant to be feminine in the 1950s. She was many things, but she was not a size 16 - more like an 8 or 10 by modern standards.
Many of us grew up with the distorted idea that we could be a size 16, and that was okay, as long as we still somehow looked like Marilyn Monroe, which was totally unrealistic - all because of myths like these.
The sad thing is, we've come a long way and Kim's comments feel like a huge step backwards. Our runways and magazine covers are beginning to celebrate a broader range of body types, 'self-love' are the words on everyone's lips…there's progress, so let's not let this kind of thing derail it.
If Kim is so obsessed with paying tribute to Marilyn Monroe, maybe she should have a read of what Marilyn told Movieland Magazine about weight loss in 1952.
I don't want to be bone thin, and I make it a point to stay the way I want to be.
If you or someone you know is struggling and needs to talk, you can call the Eating Disorder NZ helpline on 0800 2 EDANZ, or go to any of these support services: