Dear Iskra and Self Magazine,
As my parents used to say, “I am not mad at you; I’m disappointed.” I’m deeply disappointed that you decided to include a diet plan in your New Year’s Challenge. Although you revoked this meal plan, you decided to include it in the first place. Iskra, how could you approve a diet plan that includes less than 1500 calories when you have suffered from an eating disorder and are a NEDA ambassador? How could you encourage your 2.9 million followers who idolize you as a recovery warrior to follow any sort of restrictive meal plan? Do you honestly believe that your intention was to provide “healthy” meal ideas for your followers, when many of them suffer from eating disorders that involve a skewed perspective of healthy? You have now made the dire mistake of tying “healthy” to restriction. Your attempt to undo the damage with your statement did not undo much of anything. Millions of women who already struggle with body image now believe that since you endorsed this meal plan, it must be the ideal. Women, especially those with eating disorders, do not forget numbers. 1500 calories per day will stick with them. The foods you included will become safe foods for them. The foods you did not include that they consume may now become fear foods because they were not in your plan. Does this seem extreme? Maybe. But eating disorders are both extreme and common. The minds of those with eating disorders are distorted and obsessive. You of all people should understand this. The information you provided through Self Magazine is triggering, unhealthy, and disappointing. If you consider yourself a body-positive Aerie Real model, you need to consider that diet challenges are far from body-positive. I understand that it is each person’s choice whether or not to follow a diet challenge. However, for women with eating disorders, dieting may not be a choice. Even for women without eating disorders, dieting is the main cause of eating disorders. In fact, 25% of dieters later develop eating disorders. What happened to intuitive eating and exercise, self-love, and self-care? It is your responsibility as a celebrity and advocate of eating disorder recovery to promote health and wellness. So many women will blindly follow what you do because “Iskra is happily in recovery and she can follow this meal plan.” This diet you have created is not conducive to recovery; it is conducive to relapse. From now on I ask that you remember your mindset in the depths of your eating disorder before publishing any materials. I wish you and all of your followers health and wellness – in its true meaning.
Best, Kaleigh Kessler, RD
Photo credits: Iskra Lawrence’s instagram account