Katharine McPhee Tells All and Learning to Listen(American Idol)
I was standing in line at McDonald’s, my first time there since seeing Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me a few months ago, and it occurred to me that Katharine McPhee’s bulimia confession just destroyed her chances to be a spokesperson (or is it songperson) for the highest grossing restaurant chain in the world. Think of all the ways they could have played on her last name before she revealed her Mcsickness. I made the mistake of ordering the two double cheeseburgers for a dollar special anyway and with Morgan Spurlock and Katherine McPhee providing the the background narration and music for my digestive tract well, “I Know I’ll Never Eat This Way Again”.
How do I say that those golden arches threatened to be the wrong-colored Rainbow?
As I mentally process my McDonald’s binge, I found myself thinking about this “intuitive eating” thing. My body was clearly telling me not to ingest the stuff, but I simply didn’t listen. Instead, I heeded this voice that was saying “You’re hungry, you’re in a hurry to make that meeting, salty and greasy will feel good, and a double cheeseburger for a buck is really really cheap.” As I got to the register, I was already doing a karaoke version of “I Believe I Can Fry,” to which the lady at the register responded by asking “Would you like to super-size your Fry?”
Apparently, it was My Destiny to explore intuitive eating the hard way. I still don’t want to think about Taylor Hicks having ribs for breakfast though. I’ve never thrown up after eating, but I do personally understand binge eating all too well. As my metabolism has slowed down, I occasionally fixate on things like chocolate bars in the junk drawer or bowls of pasta meant to last three days in the refrigerator. I’ve lost count of the number of times my stomach and mind were saying “No” and my hands and mouth we’re saying “No” really means “Yes, yes, yes” in a kind of digestive date rape. If only there had been Someone to Watch Over Me. I know now that if I Want to Live Forever, I’ve got to stay out of places where Kellie Pickler recognizes all the items on the menu. If Katharine can’t endorse McDonald’s, maybe Kellie can. Barry Manilow did seem to like her and there was that persistent story that he is the guy who wrote “You Deserve a Break Today.”
I am not one of the many people who seem convinced that Katharine McPhee came forward with her story for maximum publicity effect. I think back about moments early in the show when for instance Ryan quizzed her about the rumor that she was pregnant and was leaving the show and cringe. So much of what seems merely gossipy can look incredibly mean once you get clued in on a key fact or two. I would point out that Mcphee says that she informed the producers early on and I assume they had some editorial oversight over Ryan’s Wednesday night patter, unless the guy’s now that big a star. My guess is that she quite honorably insisted on not letting anyone turn the eating disorder into a “hook” or identifying tag for her Idol run and it may explain why her comment about wanting the contestants who were selling personality instead of singing performance to finish their schtick.
I did write in one of my reviews that had she been born thirty five years later, Karen Carpenter might have made the perfect Idol contestant. I now look back at the line and get this queasy feeling. On Idol, there was a very fragile quality to Katharine McPhee the performer mostly because her voice seemed to have a very narrow margin for error. She could sound great for a few bars and then very suddenly slip out of key. In what little we saw of her in impromptu chat, she never did project the relaxed “It’s just me and I like me, America will like me” quality that others on the show like Elliot, Kellie, and Taylor managed. Instead, sometimes she came off giggly and other times she showed an unpredictable assertive quality that worked for many but seemed to offend some of the board crazies. I simply don’t know how any of those qualities will serve her in a non-amateur career.
In any case, I wish her well even if she hangs on to the geezer boyfriend ( Celine Dion’s husband is 26 years older). I think the hard part may come if it turns out that Telegenic Sex-bomb Katharine is not the body that her eating intuition calls for her to maintain. There’s going to be a lot of pressure on her not to listen to what she’s worked so hard to hear and heed. Similary by going public, as many have pointed out, she now subjects herself to a kind of Oprahesque fascination with full body shots of Katharine Mcphee for at least the first few years of her career. I hope people do ultimately hear the voice and that America comes to love the performer and not the package as she does establish her musical identity (which I would say never fully happened in the course of the show).
If it does come down to it though, I hope she hears that voice we all need to hear that being healthy inside and out is a bigger part of happy than famous. In the meantime, I too have decided to start listening to That Voice Within when it comes to my own eating. In a strange way, I can thank Katharine McPhee and People Magazine for that. Of course, what are the odds that they stick several skinny pictures of Katharine in this year’s 50 Most Beautiful Issue as part of their usual super-sized mixed message in these matters?
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