Peaches Geldof died, possibly of starvation. Maybe something else was going on, too. But her death, which leaves her family bereft and two little boys motherless, is a springboard for thinking about high pressure, glamorous motherhood and the standards that stress women with kids and even put them in danger. Messing up your electrolytes can give you a heart attack. Did you know that?
Like so many privileged women with kids in Manhattan I know and study, Peaches Geldof was into juice fasts, juice cleanses, juicing, juice as food. I've written about the Manhattan elite's juice obsession before. In major metropoles of the industrialized west like New York, the beauty bar is high, and alpha men and women go all out to look good. They binge on exercise. They count calories. They deprive themselves. They do juice "cleanses." They say they are "detoxing." Many of the women I know juice and "detox" for days at a time. Guess what? For many women here, and men too, juicing is nothing more than a socially acceptable way to have and talk about and normalize an EATING DISORDER. It is the newest wrinkle in "disordered eating," a syndrome particular but not exclusive to WEIRDos (those living in Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic worlds).
Self-deprivation is an expression of privilege in certain rarified circles in Manhattan and LA. But replacing meals with juice isn't healthy. And evidence suggests that intermittent fasting may be beneficial to men, but presents potential dangers for many women. Eat something. Eat something, because your juice fast diet is making you BITCHY and unhealthy: insomnia, impaired fertility and increased stress hormones and anxiety are just a few of the unwanted side effects of fasting and calorie restriction women have experienced in studies in England and the US. A 2005 study published in Obesity Research of women of healthy weight who fasted intermittently for three weeks found they had zero insulin improvements and worsened glucose response. Meaning the fasting increased their risk of diabetes. And if you take it too far, which might be faster and easier than you think, it could kill you.
The ugliest, most self-destructive form of conspicuous consumption currently on the Manhattan menu is pissing away your health in the name of "health." Binge exercise, juicing, just not eating. Obsessive calorie counting. Fixating on what you eat, constantly, because you can. Women and mothers here are especially susceptible. The bar is high to look beautiful, youthful and thin in Manhattan as perhaps nowhere else in the US. Just about every woman I encounter in my day-to-day life here is on some sort of diet or regimen pertaining to her eating. Restriction is a way of being, almost as natural as breathing, among the tribe I study. But your kids need you to stay alive, at a minimum. Energetic and happy would be nice, would't it? And your daughters, especially, need you not to be a neurotic, self destructive, self loathing mess about food.
Do you have an eating disorder? Here's a quiz that might be the first step in finding out and getting help. There's no shame in having an eating disorder. In Manhattan, where it's business as usual, you're in good company.
Modelling. Ballet. Being a Manhattan mother. Three professions in which anorexia, deprivation and wrecking your body are occupational hazards. Fire your boss. Meet me at Rotisserie Georgette. We'll eat something. It'll be delicious. And good for us.
Stefani Ruper on the myth of fasting for women.
Jane Symons how caveman fasting diet may leave women diabetic.