For this year’s Met Gala, Kim Kardashian decided to put on Marilyn Monroe’s showstopping dress—the same one the actress wore while serenading President John F. Kennedy. The dress, which was designed by Bob Mackie and Jean Louis, was considered scandalous at the time because it was a sheer, body-hugging dress that was so tight, Monroe had to be sewn into it. “In a sense, it’s the original naked dress,” Kardashian said to Vogue.
To wear the exact gown, Kardashian shed 16 pounds in three weeks. “When it didn’t fit me I wanted to cry because it can’t be altered at all,” she said about her first fitting with the dress. (Prior to that, she had already tried on a replica, which was deemed a perfect fit).
Determined to wear it at the Met Gala anyways, she decided to slim down for it. “I would wear a sauna suit twice a day, run on the treadmill, completely cut out all sugar and all carbs, and just eat the cleanest veggies and protein,” she said. “I didn’t starve myself, but I was so strict.”
She only wore the dress for her red carpet moment, changing into a replica after.
Kim says dieting for the dress was like “preparing for a role,” but others have found the move alarming. Body confidence advocate Alex Light, for one, sees it as a sign of having a “disordered relationship with food and weight.”
“If a dress doesn’t fit you, either get [it] altered so it does or get a new dress,” she wrote on Instagram. “No dress is worth starving yourself for and compromising your relationship with food.”
Disordered eating is something that we need to stop normalizing. Sacrificing your health to wear a piece of clothing—whether it’s a bridal gown or a bikini—should stop in 2022.
It’s not just Kardashian, consciously or not, encouraging toxic diet culture. How many times have you been casually inundated with ads for weight loss snake oil that show how if you just took these things that help you stop eating, you could get the body you want and fit into the clothes you like? How many TV shows and movies revolve around that plot? (“Ab Fab” did it best, BTW, because it managed to show how ridiculous our skinny obsession is.) Netflix’s “Insatiable,” which came out in 2018, used that same fantasy: The overweight main character is now thin because she had to stop eating normal food for three months.
Put all that baggage on top of a truth that not everyone is willing to say: There was so much effort on display for a look that wasn’t even all that great. Maybe if Kardashian hadn’t put her hair in a slicked back coif and emulated Monroe’s signature bombshell wave, or if she hadn’t put the dress over Skims and went in it as nude as Monroe was to replicate her figure, it would’ve been a better look. Still, it wasn’t the top of the night, and isn’t even among Kardashian’s best Met Gala looks.
We’re not even getting into how weird the moment is. Aside from the Ripley’s Museum allowing her to wear the dress, they also gave Kardashian a jar of Monroe’s hair. Andy Warhol was ahead of his time when he turned Marilyn Monroe into a diptych: Monroe is no longer a person, but a product that people can own.