In recent months Chrissy Teigan has been widely cheered for promoting body positivity. Between refusing to retouch her social media photos and uploading photos of her stretch marks, she’s been a breath of fresh air.
This week, however, the US model and food blogger has come under fire for comments she made in an interview about her eating habits. Teigen — who is currently working on her own cookbook — spoke about her favourite meals and cooking tips, and mentioned her unusual method of eating Doritos.
“I lick off the nacho cheese seasoning and put the chips back in the bag. You still get all the flavour, not all the carbs!” the 29-year-old quipped.
It was a light-hearted comment, but it prompted a strong reaction on social media with many users accusing her of promoting disordered eating. Overnight, a clearly frustrated Teigan responded to these claims with a flurry of strongly-worded Tweets.
"I can't believe I have to address this, but my quote about licking the seasoning off Doritos isn't "promoting eating disorders", it's a hobby," she began.
"I wasn't honestly saying licking the seasoning off Doritos is my idea of diet, you morons... It was in the context of 'It's a gross thing I do and I am disgusting but hey it's low carb HA HA'. Man social media you are the death of me!"
About ten minutes later, she added, "Sorry. You all aren't morons. Just the people who seriously think I go on Doritos seasoning diets. The rest of you are my everything."
"It's a bit of an overreaction, but also... perhaps I think people in that position, like celebrities and models, need to be really aware that everything they say about food can be taken in several different ways," she explains.
"We are seeing a very big increase in eating disordered behaviour, and we also are seeing a lot of models and celebrities talking about food and their relationship with food. There's real scrutiny on it as well." (Post continues after gallery.)
Although Teigen was joking, Adams says the quip about 'flavour without the carbs' could be interpreted as problematic — particularly as this is the kind of habit observed among some eating disorder sufferers.
"If she'd just said 'I love licking Doritos, I like the flavour more than the chip' that would be a relaxed, fun attitude to eating things. But to say you get the flavour without the carbs, it's disordered eating behaviour. People do stuff like... eat food and spit it out when they have disordered eating behaviour," she explains.
Jennifer Beveridge, CEO of Eating Disorders Victoria, agrees, and believes it reflects "a normalising of unhelpful attitudes to food and eating" that's evident in society more broadly.
"Her comments were throwaway, but the fact is that it’s not healthy to be labelling some foods as good and some as bad, or experiencing feelings of shame just for eating the occasional chip," Beveridge says.
"In many ways she’s brought people’s attention to what is quite a common and unhelpful attitude towards food, and the response on social media has been to challenge this way of thinking."
Ultimately, Teigen's interview and the response it's received tells us a lot about how we think about food. These days, you can't go online without encountering status updates, photos, blog posts and entire websites dedicated to what people are eating — and it's not just celebrities climbing on the bandwagon.
"I think the whole thing is reflecting how hysterical we're becoming about food. There's so much food guilt and food controversy around right now, it's a really loaded topic," Louise Adams says.
This ongoing focus on food is not just boring, she adds — it can have some wide-reaching repercussions.
"Eating disorders have literally doubled in 10 years, unfortunately. I think we need to drop the focus on food. You don't need to talk about what you're eating all the time."
What do you think of Teigen's comments? Do you think the reaction was too strong?
For free help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation's National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or at [email protected] Eating Disorders Victoria also offers support: visit their website here or call their helpline on 1300 550 236
Louise Adams and the Treat Yourself Team are also passionate about helping people overcome disordered eating. Visit their website here.