I Accidentally Became Famous In Another Country



Meet the Writer Who Tried 14 Insane Celebrity Diets

What’s it like to spend a week on the Master Cleanse, subsisting solely on spicy lemonade like Beyoncé once did? How would you feel if you chewed your food without swallowing, like Dolly Parton?  Consider your celebrity diet curiosity satisfied, because writer Rebecca Harrington has done it all.

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Over the past 3 years, Harrington has nobly investigated the supremely strange eating regimes of the rich and famous. She’s pored over magazine profiles and long-outdated celebrity cookbooks to tease out the particulars of each diet—whether it’s a weight loss plan, clean-eating manifesto, or merely a collection of foods that happen to be consumed by one excessively beautiful person.

The resulting series of essays, originally published onNew York Magazine’s The Cut, do not chronicle a quest for weight loss or nutritional supremacy (Harrington has no formal nutrition education). Rather, they form an uproarious experiment in submitting to the peculiar obsession we all have with the food choices of famous folk, speaking directly to the part of us that’s embarrassed to subscribe to Goop but can’t help doing it anyway.

Her new book,I’ll Have What She’s Having: My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting, is a compilation of these essays, plus journal entries from her new adventures. From hosting a Madonna-inspired macrobiotic dinner party to risking salmonella for a Greta Garbo breakfast of raw eggs and orange juice, Harrington stops at nothing to examine (and frequently lampoon) the eating habits of A-listers. Below, we chat with her about all the highs and lows.  

What made you decide to go on your initial celebrity diet? I’ve read that you were inspired by William Howard Taft.

My friend randomly sent me a link to this really funny website one day. Its main contention was that William Howard Taft struggled with his responsibilities more than any other US president because hemighthave had sleep apnea. They don’t even know whether or not he actually did. And on a page of this website was this daily diet of William Howard Taft: boiled fish in the morning, mutton at night, and glutinous biscuits for snacks. It was so odd that I knew I had to try it for myself.

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How did you decide how long to try each diet?

I would do these diets for either 10 days—which I thought was a decent amount of time to understand what one was like—or 3 or 4 days if I felt like the diet didn’t necessarily merit the kind of torture it was going to put me through. It really depended.

Did any of them just completely baffle you?

I thought Marilyn Monroe’s was really surprising, only because it was so odd. To start the day with raw eggs stirred into warm milk, then have nothing all day, and then have a steak with five raw carrots for dinner, and a hot fudge sundae for dessert? It just didn’t makeanysense.

Nonsensicalis a great word for a lot of the things you experienced: Greta Garbo’s celery loaf, Karl Lagerfeld’s “protein sachets,” Victoria Beckham’s belief that you only need to eat five handfuls of food each day. Do you think these celebrities really ate (or eat) this way?

I’m not necessarily sure. It’s hard to tell how genuine it is. But then sometimes a diet would be so gross that you would almosthaveto think it was genuine. Why would anyone ever lie about putting tuna and grapefruit and tomato paste together in one tuna salad like Elizabeth Taylor did? Like, she wouldn’t lie about that!

Speaking of being genuine, let’s talk Gwyneth Paltrow. She and her diet have been ridiculed for being elitist and out of touch. But it seems like hers was among the best diets you tried.

I don’t get the Gwyneth Paltrow hate. I feel like it must be rooted in some kind of jealousy. I mean, the whole thing is completely out of touch, but in a very endearing way. I thought that her cookbook [It’s All Good] was fantastic—I loved it. The problem is that everything she asks you to do is tremendously expensive. But at the same time the recipes are delicious. It seems like there was a lot of actual thought put in.

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I’m dying to hear about Master Cleanse, which you tried while on the Beyoncé diet, especially because you wrote that you weren’t even hungry by the second day. But it’s just water mixed with lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. How were you not hungry?!

It’s kind of like being stranded on a lifeboat and you’re searching for food and you’re really hungry, but after a while, you just…aren’t. I just developed this vague queasiness that masked my hunger. But by the third day I had lost interest in almost everything. Like, I couldn’t read, I couldn’t really work. I stopped socializing. In that way it was sort of fine, but I think it would have been bad if I’d had to talk to people.

It’s crazy how widely the different celebrities interpret the idea of healthy eating. You lost a few pounds on some of these diets—Gwyneth’s Paltrow’s, Liz Taylors’ Great Garbo’s, Beyoncé’s, Dolly Parton’s. But did you feel healthy on any of them?

I mean, it’s hard to say what “healthy” really is because the literature has changed throughout history and it will change again 50 years from now. In general, though, a lot of these diets were less about health and more about losing weight. That’s another reason why I liked Gwyneth’s diet—because although I lost weight on it, I also felt like it wasn’t dietetic or reliant on deprivation.

MORE:Want to Finally Lose Weight? Stop Doing This.

Media coverage of celebrity dieting tends to focus on female celebs. Your book, too, is almost exclusively about women. What do you think about our culture’s apparent obsession with what female celebrities are eating, but not necessarily what male celebrities are eating?

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In some ways I know where it’s coming from—the sort of sexist obsession with how women keep their bodies looking a certain way. It’s also a very commodified way of viewing celebrity, in the sense that you really feel like you can become the celebrity by doing these obsessive rituals that they’re also partaking in. It’s so easy to find this info, too. It’s literally the No. 1 thing you can find about a celebrity.

Is there a super-secretive celebrity who you wish would release his or her diet secrets?

Honestly, when they don’t really share diet secrets, it’s so refreshing and awesome. I was just reading a profile of Tina Fey, and she didn’t say what her daily diet was, and it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever read! You really have to have made that decision that diet is not part of your celebrity brand.

Actually, I was just wondering if you can Google what Hillary Clinton’s daily diet is—and you can. There’s a Slate article called “How Hungry is Hillary Clinton?” It doesn’t even matter if you’re famous for something that has nothing to do with how you look. People are still so obsessed that they must know.

Are there any celebrity diets on your radar for future experiments?
I mean, now that I see Hillary Clinton’s, yes!






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Date: 07.12.2018, 08:30 / Views: 61374