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Effortlessly Perfect Girl: The Superhero for the Modern Woman [Working really hard to pretend like you don't have to work really

Posted Sep 11 2013 2:02am


Don’t get too excited – these are FAKES. But apparently the real Cronuts (which probably look and taste the same) are selling for $100 a piece in New York. All I can say is that if you pay that much money you better not pretend-eat it!

Y’all the apocalypse is here: the impossibly tiny Victoria Beckham tweeted a photo of a box of cronuts (that would be croissant + donut, not the cro-magnon version of Rocky Mountain oysters as was my first thought) with the caption “Breakfast!”

At first I was overcome with a twinge of why-can’t-I-eat-junk-and-wear-sample-sizes melancholia but then I slapped myself and remembered I  just posted yesterday about how I am going to stop doing that comparing crap. (You never realize how much you do something until you try to stop doing it!!) And then I thought to myself… Eh, she probably didn’t really eat any of them. I wasn’t trying to be snarky. I was being realistic. Sure there are some grown women who are naturally ultra thin but by far the vast majority have to work at being skinny, often like it’s their full-time job. Heck you could argue that for some it is their full-time job. And while I don’t have any insider knowledge of Beckham’s metabolism or eating habits, I do remember very well what she looked like in her Spice Girls days and girlfriend has gotten way skinnier since then. I could be wrong but I don’t think thin comes easily to her.

I wasn’t the only one who came to this un-startling conclusion. Message boards lit up with variations of the O RLY? face. Things only got worse for poor Posh when Dominique Ansel, the inventor of the Cronut, publicly called her out for having fakes in the picture. (Turns out they aren’t like plastic Little People cronuts or something like I’d thought but the pastries were just not personally made by Ansel and his little elves.) And then her bike got stolen at Fashion Week. (I KNOW. The thought of a) someone that famous riding a bike to fashion week and b) someone stealing said famous bike is kinda mind blowing.) I started to feel bad for her. After all, it can’t be easy being the poster girl for the “Myth of the Effortlessly Perfect Girl.”

You know the kind – the one who is a size 00 with buttery highlights and the hottest clothes… who always says in interviews that she eats nothing but hamburgers and ice cream, only uses natural sunlight on her locks (that are NOT extensions!) and shops by falling into dumpsters behind Chanel. Oh and if she works out it’s by taking “hikes” with her dogs when she feels like it. Which isn’t that often because why would she need to bust her butt in the gym? She’s Effortlessly Perfect Girl!

Meghan Murphy, in her essay on the EPG , takes down Olivia Wilde’s beer-drinking, chucks-wearing, tousled-looking character in “Drinking Buddies” as being one of the quintessential examples of this relatively new phenomenon: the girl who wants to look perfect but doesn’t want to look like she had to try to get there. She writes, “It’s for this reason that I feel relieved when an actress admits that she never eats carbs and works out six days a week — not because I think anyone should have to do that, but because, for once, super thin and beautiful stars aren’t pretending like they eat pizza every day and laze around in their sweatpants. Women already feel as though they are imperfect without the added confusion of wondering why they don’t wake up looking like Olivia Wilde. ” For those of you who are a little older (like me), just replace “Drinking Buddies” with “Gilmore Girls” and Olivia Wilde with Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. Holy crap those ladies could shovel it in! While talking non-stop! And staying a designer-sized 0! I could never watch that show without getting mega-cravings.

Julie Gerstein makes a similar point in her article “ The Myth of the Eating Actress” when she talks about the dangers of ”the major disconnect between what actresses look like and what they supposedly eat on TV and in interviews.” It was inspired by a real-life incident where Garance Doré (wife of The Sartorialist Scott Schulman) posted on social media about choosing not to eat dessert one day and was harangued for being anti-feminist. Dore shot back, explaining that she was “only showing what her concept of reality is — the way it is for so many women for whom eating a huge slice of cheesecake or gorging on a basket of fries means hours and hours in the gym.”

But it’s not just famous people who fall prey to this myth. Every day normal ladies are doing the “ documented instance of public eating ” – coined DIPE by the New York Times - by posting pictures of decadent meals with them poised over it, fork in hand, generally in a stabbing posture. Not only is your old roommate’s friend whom you met once but friended anyhow going to eat that food, she’s going to attack it! ” And it’s not just a personal statement this plebeian pasta lover is making but it’s become a social commentary. Writes the Times, “Any individual DIPE may not shed much light on the inner life, but collectively, their frequency seems to tell us something about societal standards, judgments and yearnings.” So what exactly is it telling us? That we are all celebrities in our own minds? That we are simultaneously proud and ashamed of our deep love of delicious food? That we are all braggarts? That we feel such a need to craft the perfect facade that lying seems like the only and best option?

In the end, I think Reader Nina, in her comment on my post yesterday summed it up perfectly:

“What surprises me is this ideal of “it comes easy to me”. As if that would be better then saying “I run 3x a week and that let me run a half-marathon” or – “I spent hours to get the room just right”, as if that would be worth less then making it seem effortless.

What I’m trying to do is not lessen their accomplishments but to put them into a context – a context a lot of people (and I find especially blogs) don’t mention. When reading or hearing those things it can be easy to feel “less then”. I think it’s not just a personal but also a cultural problem, especially when it comes to women. Unless things (seem) to come easy they are worth-less.” [Emphasis mine]

Well said, Nina.

For once I can say that doing this isn’t a problem of mine – mostly just because I never, ever post pictures of my food on principle. The idea of doing “What I Ate Wednesday” not only makes my skin crawl but I cannot read others’ posts on it either. (I’m not being high and mighty, I just spent way too many eating-disordered years staring at pictures of other people’s food to not understand the sick power a food-selfie has over me.) I’m also, for better or worse, extremely honest about what I eat or don’t eat. But it’s taken me a long time to get the point where I was even comfortable with talking about it with friends, so afraid of scrutiny was I.

And so now I’m asking you: Why is it that we’ve idolized the Effortlessly Perfect Girl? What do you think of DIPEs? Have you ever posted one?

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