Dear anyone wishing to pull a Single White Female on me—peek inside my medicine cabinet, go through my mail, dig through my past Venmo transactions as if you’re conducting a Ronan Farrow-level investigation, I don’t care. Just please don’t open my refrigerator.
From the surface, it’s a perfectly respectable sight, if you ignore the scent of something quickly ripening that comes from behind the door. That facade quickly crumbles inside, where you’ll find three cans of Peroni (one’s open), one lonely quart of oat milk, a bag filled with half-eaten hunks of goat cheese, and various boxes of mixed greens.
It’s empty in a decidedly young adult way, and I assume the day I turn 30 I’ll just wake up to a more balanced fridge, containing the correct amount of vegetables, chicken, and round of condiments respectable people, like my parents, just have. Until then, I’m in company with Kim Kardashian, whose fridge is apparently also a ghost town of lacto-variation.
On Tuesday, the shapewear mogul posted an ad for Skims, her line of Instagram-worthy Spanx. It showed what appeared to be Kardashian conducting the nightly ritual of staring inside a fridge and wondering where all your dreams and agency have gone. The contents of her refrigerator reached Edward Hopper-level minimalism—a few green veggies here, some baby bottles there, and a line of six milk cartons on the top shelf. A tumbleweed drifting by would not have looked out of place.
Just to the side of the fridge was a shelf of room temperature water, further adding to the caricature of Kardashian’s celebrity. Commentators were, predictably, horrified by the lack of any signs of life. “Where da food at?” one philosophized. “So damn empty I’m hungry,” added another. “What’s Inside Kim Kardashian’s Fridge May Baffle You,” an E! Headline warned.
Kardashian would later address Fridgegate on social media, giving followers a tour of a larger, walk-in “main fridge filled with lots of fruits and veggies.” While she was at it, the reality star divulged that she “got rid” of plastic containers, opting for glass jars to hold all her “fresh juice” and “fresh water.”
But we will never be able to un-see the sight of Kardashian in monochrome gray sweatpants and a bra, staring curiously at the camera like Death in The Seventh Seal, isn’t exactly what I want to see when I inevitably raid my fridge for a midnight snack. Still, what were we expecting from a millionaire fitness nut who has frequently promoted appetite-suppressant lollipops?
The idea that Kardashian should keep a stocked fridge for her children belongs in the 1950s, or a men’s rights activist’s imagination. If I were one of her kids, screw kale, I’d want my private macaroni-and-cheese chef and/or pizza delivery, thank you.
Perhaps the fuss got to Kardashian, who deleted the image from her personal Instagram but kept it up on the Skims account. But why the to-do? “Food is just deeply personal,” Laura Silver, a dietitian based in Brooklyn, told The Daily Beast. “It matters so much to people, and they get upset if other people don’t do food the same way as them. We think it says a lot about a persona, and ascribe a lot of moral value to what people eat, how they eat and how they cook, or if they don’t cook.”
Silver blames it, half-jokingly, on the old MTV show Cribs, where celebrities gave camera crews tours of their mansions. “Remember how that was a thing? They’d open the fridge to show what was in there. I feel like since then, it put this idea in people’s minds of opening the fridge to learn something about a person.”
The contents can be revealing—perhaps sometimes too much. “It’s a good insight to who you are as a person,” Amy Shapiro, founder and director of New York’s Real Nutrition, said. “If you’re OCD and Type A, you have a neat, organized fridge. Half-hazard, life is chaotic, kids are everywhere, it’s a mess. Travel all the time, it’s empty. Single, might reflect just one person. It’s an inside view to what is going on in your life.”
Dr. Alexis Conason, a licensed psychologist and founder of the Anti-Diet Plan, specializes in treating clients who have dealt with eating disorders. She says it’s quite normal to have anxieties around food, making it hard not to compare our lowly iceboxes to Instagram’s #fridgegoals. (Over 47,000 posts have used that hashtag.)
“We look to other people’s fridges, and ask, ‘Am I normal?’” Dr. Conason said. “‘Do they have food that I don’t have, that’s off limits?’ So many of us are just looking for a way to feel like we’re OK.” Anyone looking for comfort in Kim’s kitchen, beware.
“She has a team of people advising her on what milks to display,” Dr. Conason added. “That’s not how normal people work. What’s dangerous or risky about images like this is that there are a lot of people who look up to Kim, and want to be just like her, and a fridge like this conveys a message that if we want to be like her, we must deprive ourselves.”
All of the experts agreed there is no official “good” fridge. “A beautiful fridge has a wide variety of food,” Silver explained. “Hopefully it is varied with all sorts of food, really colorful, with fruits and veggies, and if you eat animal foods, all sorts of that. But also, a fridge to reflect a healthy, well-rounded person, I would hope to see a bit of beer and chocolate.”
Shapiro added that a “full-ish” is ideal, “because it means that you can feed yourself and know what’s in your food, instead of ordering in and responding to cravings. But I also wonder... what’s in your freezer?”
Your move, Kim.