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Natalie Portman, pregnant. Read all about her cravings in any article you choose. (Getty Images)

No, They're Not Just Like Us.

Feb 17, 2011

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Barrie Hardymon

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There is almost no trope more durable in the celebrity magazine interview:the interviewer describes the actress she's talking to as "surprisingly petite," and than the actress goes on to eat a surprising amount. And the interviewer than spends a couple paragraphs on her diet. Pick almost any celeb interview. Like this one, Natalie Portman in Vogue.

A vegetarian at home and a vegan when out, she orders a thoroughly eccentric meal: field greens followed by a soft pretzel with mustard, and an elderflower spritzer.

"Is that it?" I ask.

"I swear, I eat. I ate a bagel an hour ago. I consume my own weight in hummus every day. I cook a lot, and I even do vegan baking."

Or Minka Kelly in Self.

The Roommate actress, 30 — who's currently dating Yankees player Derek Jeter — says she isn't afraid to indulge in her favorite foods, even if they aren't necessarily healthy for her.

The New York Times wrote about this yesterday, and I think anyone who's ever read any article interviewing an actress breathed a sigh or relief that someone has noticed. From the Times:

Such passages are widespread enough in the pages of American periodicals that at least one longtime film publicist, Jeremy Walker, has coined a term of art for them: the documented instance of public eating, or DIPE...

In a news media arena where an actress like Keira Knightley is taken to task for her bony angularity while Ms. Hendricks of Mad Men is fetishized for her throwback curves, it is clear that the topic of how beautiful women eat has become something of a chronic national obsession. Any individual DIPE may not shed much light on the inner life of the latest actress, but collectively, their frequency seems to tell us something about societal standards, judgments and yearnings.

Here's what else I've noticed — partly because I'm eight and a half months pregnant: the "pregnancy cravings" section of my Us Weekly. (Kate Hudson likes ice cream! DON'T WE ALL.) Granted, I'm grumpy and lumpy and don't feel quite as glamorous as it appears half of gestating Hollywood does, but it always seems like part and parcel of the same attitude. When can a woman eat a lot of ice cream? Only when she's rail thin, and/or pregnant. Otherwise, the focus is on the next — mostly normal looking — celeb to sign an agreement with Jenny Craig. And then, we are back to talking about steamed chicken and egg whites.

I read this article yesterday, and found myself mightily discouraged. On a day when some in the media were busy blaming Lara Logan for the assault she suffered in Egypt, forgive me if it seems like we have not come very far when it comes to how we talk about, and how we cover, women. I have a serious pregnancy craving now — for some common sense.

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