If a person is famous for any reason at all, they are doing something right that the rest of us are doing wrong. Period. It’s one of the few universally agreed-upon truths in the confusing times we live in, and a fact we all have to accept before moving forward here today.
Why else would a person get so much free stuff, or perks like publishing books that are written mostly by other people? If you don’t believe me, just try getting your hands on some free diamonds or a book deal in the next 24 hours and let me know how that goes.
It was a respect for the innate superiority of the celebrity that got me started a few years back picking their glossy, easily skimmed tomes from piles of books sent to my office by publicists.
Reading these books that no one else seemed to think were worth taking even for free, I realized that rather than pointing out my myriad, anonymous shortcomings, celebrities are, in fact, just here to help. It’s an anecdotal fact that when an already famous person decides to add “published author” to their resume, nine times out of ten it’s to pen an inspirational memoir or full-on advice book. We can all be better people for their efforts.
But enough background! To kick off the Full Stop readers’ journey to self-improvement, we must start with the outer and work our way in. If you have specific musings about form and function, insert them here. And who better to sculpt our collective “outer” than Chanel head designer and creative director Karl “The Kaiser” Lagerfeld, possibly the most qualified living person to tell you what to do with your appearance.
For those of you who don’t know (which is questionable of you), Karl is not just a hugely talented designer. He’s a makeover success story that went from this:
Hence, his collaboration with Dr. Jean-Claude Houdret writing The Karl Lagerfeld Diet. Only images from the second stage (and his irrelevant but unexpectedly sexy youth) are included in the book, but we are savvy modern readers, and Google Image search never forgets. Anyway, the point is that whatever the Kaiser does is working and, as he says himself, “a respectable appearance is sufficient to make people more interested in your soul.”
The book itself is based on the work Karl did with Dr. Houdret to achieve his impressive 80-pound weight loss. I’ve never heard of this “doctor” or seen him on TV, though, and thus am comfortable ignoring his contributions to The Karl Lagerfeld Diet and turning our attention back to the Kaiser.
Firstly, I have to give credit where it’s due and admit that even as one of the most surreal individuals in existence, Karl does, in his own way, keep it very, very real. He freely admits that he embarked on the diet not “so that people could grope me or to be sexy” but to “be a good clotheshorse,” and points out that no one on a diet should take themselves too seriously in the process. He also drops blunt wisdom like the following: “In order to have a place in society, both men and women have to be active, good looking, and above all young – and therefore slim.” Well then.
Accordingly, his technical advice ranges from the normal (“frying is forbidden”) to the dangerous and misguided (“don’t drink any alcohol at parties.”) This comes alongside diet-friendly recipes for the everyman such as baked rabbit spread with fromage frais, quail flambé, or tuna and blackberry mousse. You are also allowed to treat yourself to as much water as you want.
I never expected anyone nicknamed “Kaiser” to understand what food I might plausibly stuff into Gladware on the way to the office, though, and his real strength as a dietary advisor lies in instilling the kind of inspiration that transcends the world of weight loss. Witness:
“You have to give yourself orders as if you were a young army recruit. You have to be your own officer and soldier. The general tells the soldier what he wants from him, how he must behave, what he must do…. You are a general and you have a single soldier in your army. You must give him instructions and he must carry them out. It may annoy him but he has no choice.”
Whenever I have anything important to do at all, I now defer back to this quote, and you can, too, whether it’s shaving off pounds or, say, writing a column that’s months past deadline. Even if we can’t capture it completely, take heart in the fact that the average person can still harness the magic of the famous person to claw their way into at least the upper tiers of average. Or, as Karl would (and did) say, “the imagination can transform all sort of personal insanity into elements of self-invention.”
Next column: Molly Ringwald “gets the pretty back.”