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The Beauty Pageant Diet

I’ve heard rumors that South American beauty queens eat nothing but tuna. On MTV’s Real Life: I’m on a diet, one contestant ate only cottage cheese to drop the weight. I’m not about to do any such thing, since I also have to be a full time student, adhere to a workout schedule, intern, freelance, have a social life, sleep, and do a full slate of extracurriculars, but if I’m doing a beauty pageant “for the experience,” a diet is pretty much definitive.

My friends (bless their hearts) tell me I’m thin enough, but that leaves the question, how thin is beauty queen thin? I’d argue that no matter how thin I become, I’m chasing an ideal that’s more genetic than attainable through pure sweat and self-discipline. Despite my bone structure barriers, in this month leading up to the pageant, I’ll be trying out a lot more vegetables, cutting down on the carbs, and focusing on lean proteins like chicken breasts, scrambled egg whites, and fish, plus lots of water.

However, since I can’t eschew food altogether, I’m allowing myself to eat out twice a week or so. Some habits die hard. Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with a knee injury so we’ll have to see how that affects my workout routine.

Beauty in the Miss USA sense, however, is daunting. This year’s winner, Kristen Dalton, is leggy, lithe, and has augmented breasts. (Her skin is also clearly airbrushed in this publicity shot.) She’s lovely, of course, but there still hasn’t been a full-blooded Asian who has won the entire thing which only makes the 8 year old in me more concerned that I’ll never really be American. I’m hoping that this experience – combined with being abroad – will combine to clarify my views on what beautiful, American, and the intersection of the two means.


5 Responses to “The Beauty Pageant Diet”

  1. Why don’t you just ditch the workouts and not eat? That’s a lot more effective/less time consuming than eating + working out.

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  1. […] Lingbo Li – “I had been writing about restaurants for awhile and felt embarrassed that I couldn’t actually, well, make anything,” writes Lingbo Li, who writes about a variety of cheap, healthy, and easy recipes while studying at Harvard College. “Once I got access to a real kitchen, I went to town and experimented with a few cuisines. I like making offbeat things that are extraordinarily easy to make but have a big flavor payoff. Coconut curry is an easy, weeknight favorite. I also like challenging myself – I once threw a dinner party that was almost entirely offal-based. So I cooked up tripe, sweetbreads, pork belly, ox tails, and all kinds of things. There’s still a frozen beef heart in my freezer.” Recommended posts: “How to read a recipe” and “The Beauty Pageant Diet.” […]

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Lana Lingbo Li

I'm a world traveler / enthusiastic eater who's now blogging and producing videos over at HelloLana.com. Visit me there!

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