Over the past couple years, the juice cleanse business has skyrocketed: Companies like BluePrint, Juice Press and Creative Juice, which cold-press fruits and vegetables for people to drink their meals for days, are rapidly cloning stores and expanding delivery options. It's getting hard to scroll through Instagram without seeing Amaro-filtered proof of someone’s week-of-juicing triumph.
Another season, another fad diet or quick weight loss claim. (Is anyone still Le Forking?) Not so long ago, the Atkins plan clogged the nation’s arteries with bacon and other carb-free, high-fat rationalizations. Back in our grandparents' day, one popular program extolled the benefits of eating while standing up.
The juice cleanse craze might hint that we’re at least getting relatively smarter about trends in eating (and not eating). But then again, extreme diet ideas continue to pop up, often focused on one ingredient: High intake of olive oil has recently been touted as the secret to vitality and a longer life.
If these don’t all sound ridiculous enough, then put down your $10.89 juice and take a look at Stephanie Gonot’s still-life photos of fad diets. "As a teenager, I would write down in a journal what I ate, thinking that would help me change my habits," she tells Co.Design. "But perhaps pictures would have been more effective? I wanted to see if visual representations of these diets would make them seem more absurd."
Gonot might be on to something. As Instagram and Tumblr and most every other business success of this decade evidence, tech culture is increasingly obsessed with images—which are often images of food. The idea holds up in Gonot’s pop art-y portraits that spotlight different ways to go very, very hungry. She captures the "model diet" (cigarettes and caffeine) and the perennially popular lemon juice and cayenne pepper cleanse. Five forks with five measly piles of green peas represents the Five Bite Diet, invented by a California doctor.
In a crowded field, the most moronic approach might be the Seven Day Color Diet (seen here as an orange, toxin-ridden pile of Cheetos and Fanta). Done right, however, with less processed food, observing the basic idea of putting a range of colors on your plate is actually a simple-enough way to get a spike in intake of fruits and vegetables.
In Gonot's portraits though, these fad food regimes look plain silly. And that's the point. Says the photographer: "I’m not interested in making food look appetizing, just interested in making people think differently about the things they eat."
See more of Gonot's work here.