Gemma Cartwright writes...
I've always liked Louise Redknapp, so when I heard she was going to be fronting a show called 'The Truth About Size Zero', a sort of 'Supersize Me' in reverse where size 8 Louise would be dropping down to a dangerous UK 4 / US 0 in 30 days to prove a point to young women about the dangers of this terrible super-skinny trend, I was intrigued.
The show aired yesterday night, and was really compelling viewing. You have to admire Louise's guts and determination, and she came across as a really astute, smart and honest woman throughout the show. I'm sure there was a production team pulling strings behind the scenes, but there's no denying Louise put in all the hard graft. She didn't feel she could talk properly about the current size zero phenomenon without seeing just how to get down the the skeletal size of celebs like Nicole Richie, Kate Bosworth and co, so she embarked on a gruelling diet and exercise regime.
Louise is tiny already, standing at 5"4 (apparently) and weighing in at just below 8 stone. When you consider she had a baby a couple of years ago, that alone is quite astonishing. To get to a size zero, she had to lose almost a stone, dropping three cup sizes in the process and reducing her BMI to a scary 16 - 17. For 30 days she survived on 800 calories a day, working out extensively despite having no energy. She was ill, she vomited constantly and some days she could barely do her job properly. She was watched by a doctor who told her constantly that she should stop putting her body through such a trial. The lack of energy and fuel meant she was burning 50% body fat and 50% muscle mass, so even when she went back to her regular balanced diet, she was at risk of putting everything back in fat. Add to that the fact the crash diet made her look like death - with sunken eyes and dull skin - and affected her mood, making her snap at her husband and son, and all-in-all you found yourself thinking 'you're crazy, woman, eat some chips'.
But she lasted the four week regime, getting down to that all-important Hollywood dress size. Aside from the fact the awful diet made Louise look like a shadow of her former self, you couldn't ignore the fact that when she tried on the size 0 dress that had been bought for her as her 'incentive' she looked awful. The dress almost looked too big for her, and when she turned around you could see all her vertibrae - not a good look. She lost her impressive bust, her waist was so tiny she looked like you could snap her in half, and her legs were decidedly chicken-like. Still, her photographer commented that, in fashion terms, she looked great on camera.
This, of course, was the moment I put my face in my hands in despair. It really is impossible to get the message through to the fashion industry that size zero is NOT attractive. Stella McCartney and John Lewis might be trying to change things by using larger models, but we have a long road ahead of us. Though I can't imagine fashionistas taking advice from a woman who used to be in a girl band, hopefully Louise's documentary will make impressionable young girls think twice about crash-dieting to get down to skeletal proportions. Is being super-skinny really worth losing the light in your eyes and alienating your loved ones?
During her diet, Louise visited a rehab house for girls with eating disorders. There was a girl of 12 there, hiding her body with cushions because she was too embarassed to show it on television. I felt physically sick at this point. At first I was amazed that we really are at the point where even a 12-year-old feels pressured to be stick thin. But then I cast my mind back to being 12 myself. I'd just started a new school, I was decidedly chubby, more than once I'd been called 'fat', and I probably contemplated dieting too. It's only now that I realise that what you weigh is such a small part of who you are, and that confidence comes from elsewhere. Being a size zero isn't an solution to a problem, it's the beginning of a whole set of new ones...
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