Kate Moss: ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’

// 21 November 2009

Kate Moss has been criticised this week for telling an interviewer that one of her mottoes is ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’. The Guardian reports today that the motto is popular on pro-anorexia websites.

While I agree that the motto itself is appalling, I think the focus placed on the effect Moss’s comment could have on young girls is little more than hypocritical media outrage. Our entire culture is saturated with fat hate and an obsession with dieting, calorie counting and weight loss. The idea that food is the enemy, rather than a source of nourishment and pleasure, is repeatedly pushed on women by the same media publications that are now attacking Kate Moss. Her struggles with food and body image mirror those of thousands of women, and whether or not teenage girls paid any attention to her comment, they will not be able to avoid the government’s anti-fat TV campaigns, or the adult women in their lives discussing how guilty they feel for eating a piece of chocolate cake, or the calorie labels on every damn food item, or the beautiful, healthy woman in the Special K ad studiously avoiding the biscuit jar so she can earn the right to have fun in a swimsuit, or Cosmo’s latest miracle diet, or Gok bloody Wan, or 10 Years Younger, or any other shitty piece of media production based on the almost universally accepted idea that women’s bodies exist to be looked at, to be disguised, diminished and displayed, rather than lived in and enjoyed as the tools that can allow us to experience so much.

Kate Moss is herself a victim of this fiercely misogynistic culture – even if she has learnt to play it to her own financial advantage – and when it comes to making girls feel so hopeless and worthless that they want to starve themselves into oblivion, her comment is but a drop in the ocean.

Image by Christi Nielsen, from her ‘I’m Just About to Get Skinny’ project.

Comments From You

Rita // Posted 21 November 2009 at 10:10 pm

The media glorifies these celebrities and the pulls them off the pedestal at the same time. I am no fan of celebrities whatsoever because in most cases they say the right thing for the right day. They have an image to keep, it’s the media that magnifies whatever they say, making it almost impossible for people especially children to make up their own minds about certain issues.

Some people have become so dependent on celebrities that it is worrying, thanx to the media feeding us all the irrelevant minute to minute details of them. The modelling industry is the worst for promoting this motto. How can Kate who is a model herself make it any worse?

tallulah // Posted 22 November 2009 at 3:41 am

How far people are focussing on Kate’s one sentence about weight loss is so typical of the media’s attitude to villifying (female) celebrities for embodying the very culture that that same media sells.

Kate Moss isn’t famed for what she says – it’s very rare to actually read an interview with her. Usually she avoids being interviewed, or the media spins hearsay – just think of the excitement spread across glossy weeklies when it emerged she was seeing Pete Doherty.

Now, here is a rare and lengthy interview in which she gives a wee snapshot of her life. From reading it you can imagine Kate at home, with her daughter, making jam, shaking her head as her boyfriend chats on the phone and struggles to do anything else at the same time. But none of that is picked up. The media chose instead to focus on one of the smallest answers Kate gave in this interview and blow it out of all proportion. They’re making of her what they want to and of course it is all about body image because that’s all women are good for. Who cares what she does with her daughter or that she likes to spend her time drawing or writing. The media made this comment important, not Kate. The media chose to define her this way. It’s sad, but oh so expected, that one tiny wee trivial part of her life should receive so much attention.

It’s the equivalent of me revealing that actually as I’m writing this comment I’m eating tomato chutney straight out of a jar and I’m not planning on getting up at 6am to run it off on a treadmill. That hardly devalues anything else I’ve said in this post and if anybody follows up this comment I bet it wouldn’t be to warn me of my calorific sins or that I’m encouraging young readers to get fat on sugary condiments because I mentioned my own indulging. So why should Kate’s one sentence about food steal the attention from all the other things she reveals about her life in this interview? It just goes to show how much women’s lives are still trivialised and their personal choices condemned in popular society today, and how far we all still have to go to fix it. I better keep munching on this chutney to give me the energy I’ll need to keep on fighting this bloody arduous battle!

Kez // Posted 22 November 2009 at 12:28 pm

Yes, it’s a drop in the ocean, but it’s still a damn silly thing to say, when she must be very well aware that she is an icon for many young women and girls.

Kate Moss is not personally responsible for the problem, and I agree that media outrage is hypocritical, but she does have some responsibility for stuff she says, and I think it’s both appropriate and necessary for this particular comment to face criticism. Which does not mean I want her to be scapegoated or held responsible for the entire problem.

The Boggart // Posted 22 November 2009 at 1:40 pm

I disagree – I think it best that Kate Moss was at least honest about what maintaining a super-slim figure involves for the majority of women*. Super skinny models who unconvincingly claim to eat like horses/whatever or whenever they feel like are probably far more damaging. The appearance of these women (and our societal attitudes towards them) remains the same regardless of what they say, so surely a de-glamorising “warts and all” approach is preferable?

Although the fashion industry has been widely criticised by many outsiders, it is an inward-looking clique which tends to stick its collective fingers in its ears and hum loudly whenever the issue of super-skinny models is bought up. If this is to change, the industry must first become more open about its many shady, decidedly unglamorous aspects e.g. allegations of sexual abuse of under-age models.

Kudos to Moss for being so brutally honest, although the more cynical side of me wonders if she simply made this comment due to the media attention she knew it would attract.

*I’m not denying that some people are naturally highly ectomorphic, but they are in the minority.

The Boggart // Posted 22 November 2009 at 1:47 pm

@ Kez and Tallulah

I have just read your comments and agree about the hypocrisy of the media and the need to avoid unfairly vilifying Moss (it’s not as if she volunteered herself to be a role model).

It’s possible that she was so used to feverishly repeating the phrase as her own personal mantra that she simply spoke automatically, without thinking.

earwicga // Posted 22 November 2009 at 1:52 pm

According to wiki Kate Moss has a net worth of £40 million.

If she is smart enough to acrue this fortune, then she is certainly smart enough to keep her mouth shut and not make statements that encourage sufferers of eating disorders, who from all accounts use this disgusting woman (who wears sealskin boots) as a role model.

Kez // Posted 22 November 2009 at 2:09 pm

“It’s the equivalent of me revealing that actually as I’m writing this comment I’m eating tomato chutney straight out of a jar and I’m not planning on getting up at 6am to run it off on a treadmill.”

Yeeees, but Tallulah, with respect, your chutney-eating habits and the information you provide about them are not extensively reported in the national press, and neither (as far as I know) are you widely hailed as a very skinny style icon. So it isn’t really equivalent.

Holly Combe // Posted 22 November 2009 at 4:01 pm

Excellent points about the culture that creates such a motto. In the original interview, Kate Moss actually added “you try and remember, but it never works”, which I think lends weight to your point, Laura.

The awful thing about all the anger directed at Kate Moss is that her comment seemed to be taken out of context by the mainstream media anyway. As Charlotte Cooper’s excellent letter to Kate Moss on Obesity Timebomb points out, we should be getting angrier at the media.

The people and organisations most deserving or our wrath are, as ever, only too keen to get us all fighting amongst ourselves. It’s yet another case of divide and conquer.

maggie // Posted 22 November 2009 at 4:25 pm

‘Nothing tastes as good as thin feels’ used to be a slogan with weightwatchers. You know that multi national corp that gets us women/girls, and its only directed at women/girls, to lose weight and make a very tidy profit at the same time.

I think this has been blown out of all proportion and Holly you make a very valid point.

Good post Laura.

Kez // Posted 22 November 2009 at 6:13 pm

It’s interesting, or maybe not, how the word “skinny” has become so widely accepted as something that it’s desirable to be. To me, the word always sounds faintly derogatory – like “skin and bone”. But nowadays it seems to be unquestioned that skinny (which to my mind sounds distinctly thinner than “slim”, say) is good.

Karen // Posted 22 November 2009 at 7:18 pm

I agree with Kez. The comment may well be a drop in the ocean, but each drop counts and Kate Moss’ words are likely to have a disproportionate influence because of who she is. I do think she has a responsibility to be careful about what she says. Yes, she is part of a much wider problem but that doesn’t mean she is not responsible for her contribution to it. I’m not sure she does reveal the ‘gritty reality’ of being her size. She makes no mention of the mental and physical toll being a size zero (which for the majority of women is only achieved through semi-starvation) takes on body and spirit.

Melissa // Posted 22 November 2009 at 7:21 pm

I think this whole affair enabled the media to focus on its two favourite things: vilifying a female celebrity and talking about weight related issues. Kate Moss is experienced enough to know the media would – rightly or wrongly – make a meal out of such a comment (excuse the pun!).

As someone who spent 10 years of my life with anorexia, I can honestly say that such comments would never have caused me to develop an eating disorder. I think – more realistically- the impact will be felt on those who are already struggling with an eating disorder and grasping onto any reason or excuse not to change and not to leave the strange safety net that it seems to provide. Her comments provide affirmation to those who are scared to leave the confines of their eating disorder. If that makes sense.

Lara Williams // Posted 23 November 2009 at 2:09 pm

I find the reaction really undermining to women with eating disorders. Anorexia isn’t a case of ‘silly girl just wants to look like ol’ Mossy’, and if it weren’t a disease prevalent mainly in girls and women, I’m sure such a reductionist argument wouldn’t be employed. Giles Coren backed up what she said in his times column and no one’s castigating him for encouraging men to become anorexic. Because the notion is utterly ridiculous.

Karen // Posted 23 November 2009 at 7:42 pm

@ Lara. I’m afraid I disagree. I am recovered from an eating disorder (although currently having a bit of a wobble), and whilst of course just looking at images of super thin models and celebrities is unlikely to tip someone into an eating disorder, they do still play a big part in the development of body hatred.

It is very difficult not to be influenced by such images, because our subconscious will always react before our conscious brain can think ‘how ridiculous’ (see Susie Orbach’s ‘Bodies’ for a discussion on this.)

In my opinion, constant bombardment of images of super-thin celebreties and models could push someone who is perhaps a little insecure, experiencing stress or other difficulties, into dieting. That can then turn into something else altogether more difficult, and ultimately into an eating disorder or at least a warped relationship with food.

I think that the social context in which we live is hugely important. We will all experience difficulties in our lives, and some people respond in negative and unhealthy ways – such as drinking too much alcohol, or controlling food and weight by over/under-eating/purging etc. The mechanism by which people express their unhappiness may vary, but is influenced by the culture they live in, including the images they are surrounded by. When so many of these promote an unrealistic notion of ‘beauty’, and actively encourage body hatred, it is not surprising that they will have some impact on people, and could indeed fuel the development of or sustain an eating disorder.

So I do think the fahsion industry plays its part, and Kate Moss is a leading icon of that industry – hence my previous comment that she needs to take responsibility for what she is saying.

Lara Williams // Posted 24 November 2009 at 9:27 am

I agree the constant bombardment of images of skinny women will of course affect women’s body image, but I don’t think Kate Moss should be held accountable personally. Her body is her currency. It’s the reason she’s famous. And one of the reason’s she is as successful as she is, is because she’s a very slim woman (whether we like this fact or not). So she commented on the fact that she is skinny and implied she forfeits food in order to maintain this – which perhaps isn’t healthy but that’s part of what she has to do to make a living. Her body is her product – why shouldn’t she comment on it? I think she came across as quite charming in the interview, and went on about how much she likes making bloody jam for much of it – yet this one quote is taken from the interview, removed from its context, and Kate Moss stands vilified. Surely the industry that demands its representatives look like pre-pubescent teenagers are at fault – rather than someone simply being honest about it?

gadgetgal // Posted 24 November 2009 at 2:17 pm

@Karen – good comment and I agree. I think a lot of weight is placed on what people like Kate Moss have to say and do, and as this is how she earns her living to say she would be either unaware of it and or entirely blameless is to belittle how good she is at her job. She’s obviously good at it, she’s made millions doing it!

I also think we need stop beating ourselves up every time we take time out to examine and criticise individuals rather than just blaming everything in a sweeping manner on larger organisations. Yes, of course the fashion industry as a whole is to blame, as is the media, and of course we should acknowledge that. But we all seem to be forgetting one thing – individuals make up organisations, and amongst individuals in the organisations there are varying degrees of power. She may not have the greatest say in the fashion industry or the tabloids, but she is by no means the weakest voice out there, she has more clout than most other models, and even more than most designers, and unless she’s made aware of how damaging her statements can be how can we expect her or the industry she represents to change?

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