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A Closer Look At The Eating Habits Of A Beauty Queen

Illustration for article titled A Closer Look At The Eating Habits Of A Beauty Queen

Miss USA recently spent a week cataloging everything she ate for Grub Street. We thought it might be interesting to look at this — so what did the most beautiful girl in the nation consume?


Because she kept a diary for a week (and it would be a pain to tally up every single piece of fruit that passed through her lips) we decided to choose just one day and calculate her calories. This is, by no means, a perfect breakdown of the food. Miss USA didn't provide serving sizes for most of her meals, so "some blueberries" could have meant anything from three berries to three cups. But we tried to guess the best we could given the list of what she ate on Saturday:

3 Egg Whites
1/2 cup of strawberries
1/2 cup of blueberries
Spinach salad
Vinaigrette dressing
Salmon, 1/2 fillet
Whey protein shake
Sushi, two rolls
Cranberry juice
1/2 cup of pineapple
1/2 cup of strawberries


The total comes out less than 1200 calories. It isn't a lot, but honestly, it's better than I expected. Not because I think she should be eating less, mind you, just that we so often hear about the insane lengths which people go to lose weight, and a small part of me expected Fakih to have fallen into that trap. It's good to see that she hasn't necessarily gone that route. Moreover, we chose to break down one of the lighter days — on other days she has flatbread pizza (at least 300 calories) and a Shake Shack mushroom burger. She doesn't eat horribly, but she is very clearly on a diet.

Which is actually really depressing. Seeing Fakih's picture next to the article, it's impossible to forget that this is what we're supposed to be doing, this is what we're pressured into doing every day we pick up a magazine, or every time we turn on the television. Sure, some women are naturally skinny. But far more think about food the way Fakih does. Here's an excerpt from her food diary:

I had a session with my walking trainer, Lou, and after we were done I passed by the new Shake Shack in Times Square. They have this thing called the 'Shroom Burger for the vegetarians, which is just cheese inside a fried mushroom. Oh my God. I'll be really honest, I think I got a little spoiled when we were doing my dress fitting earlier that week. One of our talent managers was like, "You can't lose any more weight, because we can't shrink the dress any more." So I was like, "I can afford it," and got the burger. I wanted a shake or frozen custard but I had an Arnold Palmer instead.

She's being told not to lose any more weight, which means she can afford to eat what she wants — but only for a moment, it seems. Here's a reminder: this is what she looks like:

Illustration for article titled A Closer Look At The Eating Habits Of A Beauty Queen

I'm not sure what Miss USA really means. She's the prettiest? Best at walking in heels? Regardless, it's some sort of prize, given to women for fitting into a predetermined mold of physical attractiveness.

Of course, Fakih can do whatever she wants with her body. She can eat as much — or as little — as she pleases. One might argue that it's really none of our business, but by making her diet public, she opened herself for this kind of questioning. Furthermore, she let us in on thought process that goes on behind her food choices. What we consume is a deeply personal choice, yet eating is often intrinsically a social act. In telling us how she thinks and feels about what she eats, Fakih is opening the lines between personal and public. Which is fine — for her.


The greater danger here is that this type of piece reinforces the idea that a woman's body is public property. It is available for scrutiny. Miss USA has been awarded a prize; she has been publicly recognized as beautiful and attractive and the ideal of what we all should strive to look like. And herein lies the problem: when the most "perfect" women in our culture begin detailing their diets, it makes it especially difficult for the rest of us normals to forget that thin is of the utmost importance. When Sarah Silverman said "I don't care if you think I'm racist, I just want you to think I'm thin," I laughed. Not because I particularly enjoy her stand-up, but because there is some truth there. It is so important for a woman in our culture to be skinny that this can often trump all else. And that is damn unfortunate.
Fakih's diet is her own, but the continual sacrifice demanded of women so that we can fit into the tiny box of what is beautiful, is all of ours to share.

Miss USA Rima Fakih Gets Takeout From Per Se, Splurges On Shake Shack [Grub Street]

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Reading this, it makes me sad about our entire society and the way we approach food. The very concept of a calorie count is disordered. To say that Fakih's count is "better than expected" is to say that we think about how many calories a beauty queen might consume, the way we might consider how many miles per gallon a car gets. There is no pleasure in food here. Even the indulgence is justified. Even the sacrifices are justified. This isn't "eating". And this story comes from something that's supposed to be a food blog.

Other commenters have mentioned this post might be triggering for those who've struggle with eating disorders, and I have no doubt about that. The minute the counting starts, it never really, truly ends. But even people without diagnosed eating disorders count. My mom counts; it's from her years at Weight Watchers. Years later, she can still tell you how many WW points a chicken salad at Chili's "costs" you.

My college suitemate, an athlete, has always counted. She counts going in and coming out. She can tell you how many calories you burn on the treadmill, based on speed and incline, without looking it up.

Almost all of the women I know, and a handful of men, count. My boss has thrown away gifts of chocolate, meant for the entire office, because she can't bear the temptation. My former roommate once broke the disposal trying to get rid of candy corns she'd bought several bags of, for fear of binging.

I don't want to count. I don't want anyone to feel like they have to count. I want someone to tell me how good a ripe, juicy strawberry tastes. And then I want to have one. I want to break some bread with you. I want to dig in. I want to feel nourished. I want to feel soul-satisfied. I don't want to do any more math.