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Portia de Rossi and other celebrities play the numbers game

Numbers are evil.

Here’s the perfect example. Yesterday morning, I gleefully parked myself in front of the TV to watch Regis & Kelly. I immediately regretted doing so as the lovely Ms. Ripa (who herself has been repeatedly criticized in the media for being too thin) rattled off the number of calories in an average Thanksgiving meal (hint: there are a lot).

Sure, it’s sort of fascinating to know the random holiday trivia, and yes, plenty of Americans get their grub on and seriously overeat on Turkey Day. But all dissecting the celebratory meal fat gram by fat gram might do is elicit a panic attack in anyone with food issues, not help anyone virtuously monitor their appetite.

I’m continually amazed and appalled at the onslaught of potentially damaging digits that get thrown around in the media. (You know what I mean: weights, BMIs, calories consumed, calories burned, miles run, inches lost, fat grams counted, etc. etc.) I imagine the deluge of facts and figures must be maddening enough for the average person, but as anyone with disordered eating or body image issues knows, these numbers can be triggering and potentially lethal.

Most recently, actress Portia de Rossi released her memoir, Unbearable Lightness. I applaud her for speaking out on her history with anorexia, but throwing around scale readings and calorie counts can sometimes provide toxic TMI for those seeking it out.

About-Face‘s Jennifer will read and review Portia’s book for the blog next month, but in the meantime, I’d caution anyone still struggling with body issues to seriously consider the repercussions of reading the nitty-gritty details of someone else’s suffering.

Because, admit it, numbers kinda suck.

— Michelle Konstantinovsky is a student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and an avid admirer of shiny objects and preteen entertainment. It would be nice if you visited her website: www.michellekmedia.com. Also, she may learn to use Twitter more effectively if you follow her @michelley415.

3 thoughts on “Portia de Rossi and other celebrities play the numbers game

  1. Great post. You’re absolutey right, numbers are likely to sit in the back of a vulnerable mind and plague them, so they should be avoided. And as much as it’s good to focus on eating mostly healthy foods, the truth is that the occasional indulgence and sharing food with family and friends are all a part of enjoying life. So it’s disappointing to see holidays are used as news stories to broadcast a list of reasons people should be worried about what they’re eating.

  2. What an important point! As a therapist for women with eating disorders, I can’t tell you how many of my clients came in during the last few weeks feeling triggered by the numbers Portia de Rossi shared on Oprah and the cover of People magazine. I wish the media could focus on the helpful messages about how recovery works and stop sensationalizing serious illnesses with shocking numbers.

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