Our DIPEs, Ourselves

Acronym of the week: DIPE, Documented Instance of Public Eating

Y’know, in a magazine profile of a famous person (most likely a woman), where the fact that they are eating ribs/potatoes/a giant cupcake is noted in the interview. Must a DIPE involve a food that is fattening, tempting, or otherwise verboten? No–but they usually do.

In the New York Times, Jeff Gordimer examines the strange phenomenon that is DIPE for female actresses today. In the article, Bumble Ward, a former Hollywood publicist, summarizes the dilemma today’s actress faces:

“They’re so sure that people assume they have an eating disorder that they’re forced to wolf down caveman-like portions of ‘comfort food’ in order to appear normal. And worse, they feel they have to comment on how much they’re enjoying themselves.”

These actresses are “performing” normality, and what’s more boggling is that little mention is often given to the amount of exercise needed to work off said DIPE. Celebrities, especially female celebrities, are scrutinized as role models for their effect on the general public, and are therefore hyper-conscious of any potential backlash of a statement encouraging young girls that thin is a measure of success. But why is it so important to make invisible all the hard work most actresses have to put in to retain a dress size that allows them to remain viable in today’s (however screwy) entertainment culture?

Aside from the size of an actress in relation to her popularity with her audience, maintaining a trim and constant figure is a real part of the job description. Take it from Pam Beesly…er, Jenna Fischer. In a recent Redbook profile (I wonder if there was a DIPE?), she outlines the exacting scrutiny that actresses face.

“In a normal job, if you gain or lose a few pounds, it’s no big deal. But in my business you have to tell someone so that the next time you go to a fitting, the clothes are the right size. It’s really embarrassing to have to say to your manager, ‘I’m now a 6 pant instead of a 4.’ Emails go out, and they CC the agents: ‘Jenna would like everyone to know that she’s now a 6 pant.’ This is why actresses obsess about their weight. It’s not a private affair.”

The kicker? If there is calculated thought put into a DIPE (which, like Jezebel’s Anna Holmes says at the end of Gordimer’s article, I am certain there is), the whole purpose is to make an actress more relatable, easier for the common woman (or man) to find a connection with. But to the reader, the outcome is anything but. If readers take a DIPE at face value, we assume that Minka Kelly, tiny pretty lady extraordanaire, eats buckets of fried chicken with no negative effect–and then we wonder what the hell is wrong with us when eating generous amounts of fried food doesn’t have quite the same effect.

It seems everyone is stuck, us and them alike, both fighting against the unrealistic standards and assumptions that we’ve set up for each other. No one wins…except maybe the diet industry.

PS – I have been eating ramen the whole time I’ve been writing this post. Just wanted to put my own DIPE out there for the world to see.

One thought on “Our DIPEs, Ourselves

  1. I think the same can sometimes be said for any girls/women who consider themselves thin or underweight. For example, in elementary school I always heard, “Wow Lauren, you’re so skinny!”. I absolutely hated that phrase, so I would make a point to show my friends that I ate normally and was not anorexic.

    It only makes sense to me that there would be so much more pressure on celebrities to show that they are healthy and/or eat “like us”. On the flip side, it’s upsetting when tabloids make a big deal out of celebrities gaining weight and being caught eating some sort of junk food.

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