All She Wanted Was to be a Thin Bride

All she wanted was "respect at work and didn't want to be a fat bride."  What she got instead of a better career and a dream wedding was a casket and an international scandal. Samantha Clowe, 34, died in pursuit of her dreams of thinness.  Generally when a young woman dies from overly restricting her calories it's because she suffers from Anorexia Nervosa or some other eating disorder.  This time, however, the woman was under a doctor's care and on a commercial diet plan.  The program - called the LighterLife diet - limited her to 530 calories a day which by all accounts she followed faithfully.  So faithfully that no only did she lose about 42 pounds in 11 weeks but she also suffered a heart arrhythmia and died.

Of course LighterLife is not taking the rap on this one saying, "although Miss Clowe's BMI had reduced from 37 to 32 when she died, she was 'still clinically obese' and 'her health may have already been compromised.' He added:'We were very sad to hear the news about Samantha. The coroner said Samantha was clinically obese which increased the risk of cardiac death. It had been suggested that there was a possible link to the diet but the coroner said it was very difficult to make such a connection."  And yes, the coroner did actually say that.  People can get heart arrhythmias for a variety of reasons.  But she'd never suffered a heart episode before going on the diet and at least two other women have died while doing LighterLife as well.

So it's the diet's fault, right?  Not in my opinion.  Clowe, of course, is an adult who made her own choices and I think she should've been smarter than to do a diet that gives her less calories than the Geneva Convention allots prisoners of war but plenty of women (most women?) have done an incredibly stupid diet at some point in their life, myself included.  In fact, I have one friend who does a month-long "cleanse" three times a year that makes 500 calories a day look generous.

But no, if I'm going to lay blame, I'd prefer to put it at the feet of the society that makes it so that fat people aren't respected at their jobs - the same society that says the worst possible catastrophe that could occur during your wedding (the Most! Important! Day! of your Life!) is not that you trip over a rogue flower girl or have your betrothed run off with your sister but that you look fat in your dress.  The society that dedicates whole TV shows to helping brides crash diet for their big day.  The society that says a woman is only worthwhile if she adheres to their unattainable standard of beauty.

Aside from a young bride dying right before her wedding, the real tragedy is how Clowe and millions of others have internalized these messages.  But hey, at least she looked thinner for her funeral!

Who do you think should be held accountable for this death?  Have you ever done a crazy diet to skinny-up for an event?

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