The DIPE Phenomenon

This morning I read an article in the New York Times about the recent “documented instance of public eating” phenomenon among famous actresses. I actually had recently started wondering about this myself. I don’t really read tabloids or magazines, but I’ll occasionally peruse them when I’m traveling. The last couple of times I’ve noticed that in almost every interview with a female star, some mention is made of what she was eating at a restaurant….and it’s always something unhealthy and “surprising” as most of these actresses are size 0-2’s and weigh next to nothing.

The NYT article, titled “For Actresses, Is A Big Appetite Part of the Show?” , interviews publicists, journalists, chefs and celebrities to examine why DIPE has become so popular, and if actresses really do put on a “show” when it comes to having a big appetite.  One of the reasons the article emphasizes is this idea of food and sex; a lot of men are turned on by the idea of super gorgeous (and tiny) women eating or having a big appetite.  The YouTube show Epic Meal Time definitely uses this concept as a part of their humor behind their videos- attractive females stuffing their faces (see below):

Yet, part of the humor behind this concept for Epic Meal Time is hot chicks don’t usually splurge like that.

Not surprisingly, most of the “normal” or non-actress females interviewed in the article seem to think that the “huge appetite” of female actresses is generally a front.   I personally think it can depend on the person– I’m sure there are some actresses blessed with amazing metabolisms. However, since many actresses are technically below average in their height and weight categories, I have a hard time believing that a lot of them eat fried, high-calorie food all day every day or have the “huge” appetites that they boast about during interviews. The last quote in the article from Anna Holmes, founder and former editor of Jezebel, hits home for me:

“We would all appreciate it if you had an interview with an actress who says: ‘You know what? It’s my job to be a certain size, and it takes a lot of work for me to do so. I tend to eat very healthy, small portions, but once in a while I splurge,’ I would like to hear that. That it’s not easy.”

To me, this “DIPE” phenomenon just feeds into today’s very unhealthy female body image, so prevalent in our society and that many of these actresses (and models) perpetuate. Women come in all shapes and sizes; I just don’t believe that being 5’9″ and weighing 110 pounds is always attractive.  Typically, in real-life being that thin is very unattractive since thinness or being underweight is many times tied to eating disorders and all of the negative aspects associated with eating disorders (mental illness, control issues, and of course, not eating!).   Having attended an all-girls high school and being a young female myself, I have seen countless young women (including my friends) suffer from food issues and  eating disorders.  It is sad that many of us, including myself, all have at one point considered the ideal female body type to be thin, rather than healthy.  I understand why so many famous female stars would want to distance themselves from the negative aspects of thinness; however, it would be better if they were honest, so that more females understood that for a majority of women in America, it is neither easy or natural to be that thin, and it actually is a “job” for many of these actresses.

7-10 million women in America suffer from an eating disorder. Here some more facts from the National Association of Anorexia-Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD):

• Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.
• Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. Only 35% of people that receive treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders.
• Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.
• Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.