It's always difficult to write articles about celebrities' bodies. Firstly, because it's only ever female stars' physiques that get dissected in the press (worryingly skinny! Comfort eating to get over heartbreak! Cellulite!, etc etc), which doesn't seem fair – I can't remember the last time I read a piece on whether Robert Pattinson's looking thin and gaunt post his break up with Kristen or whether Seth Rogen is looking 'bloated' from snacking on too many bags of potato chips. Secondly, because it’s really none of my business how big or small somebody else’s body is.
Some photos of Lindsay Lohan and her sister out shopping in LA set the tabloids abuzz – a photo of Lindsay's sister, Ali, who's currently represented by Wilhelmina Models, looking particularly skinny meant that everyone and their mother thinks she's got anorexia.
The Daily Mail: 'Worrying: With her tiny denim shorts and backless black halterneck top, the 19-year-old couldn't hide her stick-thin arms, protruding ribs and collarbones'.
Radar Online: 'Lindsay Lohan showed off her much fuller, post-rehab figure Saturday, ironically on a shopping date with her scary skinny sister, Ali...Ali...appeared painfully thin. Her collar bones and ribs were on full display in her backless halter top.'
All of this may or may not be true. But really, if it is – is media scrutiny going to solve anything? If Ali really does have an eating disorder, feigned concern on the part of journalists who don’t know her isn't going to make things any better.
What journalists could do instead would be to examine the issue of anorexia in a serious way – it’s an illness that's often written about in the same hysterical, faintly gleeful tones as above, but when was the last time you read a grounded discussion about it? There was a big furore about Naomi Wolf exaggerating anorexia statistics in her book The Beauty Myth – but her point's still legitimate: if the same number of men suffered from anorexia as women (an estimated 7 million in the US*), it wouldn't be shrugged off as a problem exclusive to troubled adolescents, there'd be a public health enquiry. In the same way that it's entirely inappropriate to write gossipy snippets about Amanda Byrnes' mental health breakdown, I think it's just as wrong to single out Ali for the same sort of high-drama attention.
Because really, is it productive to target a 19 year old who works as a model (and has been exposed to media scrutiny from a young age) and hold her responsible for her physique? Why not target Wilhemina Models and ask them whether they hire any models above a size zero? Or the fashion industry at large for their bias for the very white and the very thin?
Lindsay looked happy and relaxed in hot pink shorts and studded Chloe boots. The actress has just moved into a new apartment in New York on Tuesday, and nipped back to Los Angeles, where she's snapped here – she took her sister out on a shopping spree. The two sisters have recently moved in together in New York.