Kenneth Tong, Simon Cowell, and Managed Anorexia

Is a Dress Size of Zero Ideal?

My head is spinning a bit here.  Sarah Arrow pointed out to me a guy named Kenneth Tong,  billed as a "Hong Kong playboy" who spent six days on the cast of the British version of "Big Brother" back in 2009.   He also advocates what he calls "managed anorexia" and is getting ready to sell a miracle pill that will get you from a size 12 to a size 6 in three weeks. Really?  WTF? His Twitter link takes you to a closed Facebook page so who knows what happens there.  But here's a peak at some of the messages on his stream:
If I managed to give one person "food for thought" as opposed to them snacking on Crisps or Chocolate, I'd be more fulfilled than you. @JoleneDillon Personally read your essay. Well done on wishing to be size zero but had your anorexia been supervised, you'd have been fine. Do hope the youth read my Tweets. Weight-loss can never start too young and snacking can never be allowed to begin. To not be thin is a sin. I'm singlehandedly brave enough to champion this size zero agenda, which you've all oppressed for far too long. Glad my size zero message is being heard globally. Honestly, to have an imperfect body is to have an imperfect soul... Only the thin truly win. My Size Zero Pill will change lives, it's like the modern day Schindler's List. Will I be your salvation?
Really?  Using Jewish people subjected to the Holocaust as an example to aspire to?  WTF?  I'm reticent to write this post; I'm pretty sure it's what he wants.  He's definitely enjoying the attention and has even managed to drag Simon Cowell into this.  Thank you Simon for your responses:
Just been informed about @MrKennethTong. has a new village idiot... In fact he doesn't even deserve the village. He's an idiot. @MrKennethTong You keep telling people to lose weight... The only weight people should lose is you. You're not worth my time.
Basically this guy refuses to have sex with anyone who's not a size zero (I guess you're gonna have to show him your dress tags) and thinks that if you're not a zero, than you are a zero. So I did a little digging.  Some statistics:
  • Size zero is "vanity sizing," a made-up number by U.S. clothing manufacturers; in the U.K. it's equivalent to a size four.
  • A size zero's measurements are 30" - 22" - 32" or 84 - 64 - 89 centimenters.
  • A 22" waist corresponds with the average pant size of an 8-year-old.
  • Marilyn Monroe's measurements according to her dressmaker were 35 - 22 - 35.
  • The average U.S. woman is a size 14 today.  Those measurements are 39 - 31.5 - 42.5 .
There are certainly women out there who are naturally and happily a size zero.  There are also women out there who put in a little bit of effort to maintain a size zero and are happy with where they are.  The vast majority of the rest of us can't even conceive of doing this. The Argument Of course Tong advocates that being a certain dress size is the ONLY key to happiness and to dating stud muffins such as himself.  If I read one of his tweets correctly, he referenced having 104 "dates" last year.  Who wants to sleep with a guy who might have some sort of venereal disease? I believe the pill he is "developing" is an asthma medication for horses that has been banned pretty much everywhere because it kills people. Is there such a thing as "managed anorexia?"  Nope.  Can any girl who wants to become a size zero safely use a "little bit" of an eating disorder to get there?  Nope.   Would you want to sleep with a guy who's so ridiculously superficial that he rules out 99% of the planet as possibilities?  Nope. A Piece of Celebrity It's easy to get caught up in the fabulous lives of celebrities.  While we all don't get to achieve the dream of attending red carpet events, we can dream of fitting in to their tiny dresses.  But the reality is eating disorders are a slippery slope.  You might think you have control for a while, but you don't.  You never did, and it'll end badly.  It always does. For the teenage girls who are vulnerable, let's give 'em lots of love and support the bodies they've got, which are lithe, graceful, and strong.  For our teenage boys, let's teach them that beauty comes in all sizes and the most beautiful asset a girl has is her confidence. Do Looks Matter? I'm not Pollyanna-ish enough to say there's no such thing as physical attraction; I have a thing for tall guys and always went for the tallest guy in the room.  (I know, it's dumb; trust me, my friends always gave me a hard time about it and I know they're right.)  But I'm happily married to my 6'2" husband and I'm glad that when I wear 4" heels, he's still taller than me.   I avoided dating blonds too, go figure. Sarah, who's the Mom to a teenager, has some great perspective on all of this at Birds on a Blog. What do you think?  Should we get up on our soap boxes and drum this guy off the internet?  Or just ignore him and his bullypulpit and hope he goes away?  Is this a teaching moment to our teens about body image?  Do we really have to worry about them falling for this crap? Let's start talking, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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42 Responses to Kenneth Tong, Simon Cowell, and Managed Anorexia

  1. Holly January 6, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    This guy’s message is horrible, yes, but I don’t think we should feed his need for attention. He is ridiculous and his message is both ridiculous and sad.

  2. Melinda January 6, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    Unfortunately we could drum this guy off the internet- and he certainly deserves that and more- but there would almost certainly be some other idiot who would step up into his place. Our nation and our society needs to take the focus off of the number on the scale and onto whether or not a person is HEALTHY. 150 may be incredibly unhealthy for a person who is very short/out-of-shape, or it may be incredibly healthy for a person who is very fit. We don’t need to celebrate “weight loss” (“woohoo, I lost ten pounds”), we need to celebrate “fitness gained” (“woohoo, I just ran a mile in ten minutes! that’s a personal best!”).

  3. Sarah Arrow January 6, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    Hi Lisa
    Thanks for your post, this guy is an idiot! You already know I am outraged, so I shall be mild in my comment.

    I feel sad that this guy is being given a platform to spout his drivel on about anorexia :( His tweets show he knows little about eating, health or healthy lifestyles.

  4. Lisa Johnson January 6, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    Melinda great point. :-)

    Holly, I hear you, hopefully we’ll over ride the negativity and get to the positives, how to talk to our teens, how to think about “healthy”

    Thanks for adding your voices,


  5. Beth January 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm #


    Thanks for tackling this difficult topic and for pointing out the damage this guy can do. I’m Tweeting this now, hoping everyone with a daughter reads it.

  6. Kris @Krazy_kris January 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    I need a shower now. This whole story is creepy at best, and extremely dangerous at worst. He’s an idiot and I can’t believe he has a following – there is NOTHING attractive about him, his words, or his beliefs. A size 0? Please – it ignores one little thing – someone’s build, eh? I’ve always been “petite” and was never a size 0. (OK – maybe when I was 12, but I wasn’t shopping in the grown up section then either, so I was probably a 12 jr or whatever the sizes are). Of course you hit on all the gross stuff of this guy – gosh, we could all go on and on.

    Idiot – idiot – idiot – and I’m completely torn whether to ignore or have him slammed by reputable folks (ala Simon – nice one Simon!).

    There is lots of dangerous information & people out there – so I’m not sure why this one rubs me so wrong….

    And as far as my teen son? I gotta hand it to him – he is not into uber skinny & he likes a brain….

  7. Lisa Johnson January 6, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    Thanks Beth, I appreciate the help getting the word out :-)

    Kris, high five to your son!

  8. Kris @Krazy_kris January 6, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    And – as an afterthought – and it might be TMI – but based on motherly observation, as far as body types, my son is definitely not into big tata’s and is definitely into a booty. But above all that, these young women have to hold their own with a lightening quick sense of humor and unique observations of the world.

  9. Rita @ Fitblogger January 6, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    I totally thought it was a joke. Then I couldn’t figure out why on earth he had so many followers and then I found the big brother thing.

    The thing that worries me so much about this is the pill he’s at the end of, supposedly. If there is one person who takes that, and there will be, he’s done a profound disservice to people in general.

    Time will make him go away, all people of that nature are weeded out with natural selection alone, but his lasting impact, if even one person is hurt, is far too many.

  10. Julie January 6, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    I agree with Melinda’s point – there will always be someone willing invent the next best fad DIET (which is nothing like a healthy eating plan), perfect weight loss pill, drink, cookie, or drops…. in hopes of making a fortune and/or being famous. I LOVE the idea of celebrating fitness!!!!! Wouldn’t it be nice if that caught on?

    This guy is an egomaniac and an IDIOT. I am sure we all knew that though.

    I was sitting here with a million thoughts running through my head about how scientifically, chauvinistically, and morally wrong his rants are on many levels. Then all the sudden I thought “”controlled anorexia” really??” The guy must not even know what the definition of anorexia and he is suggesting a way to manage it.

    For reference @MrKennethTong (in case you are Googling yourself to see how many sites your name comes up on) Wikipedia provides this definition:

    “Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and an obsessive fear of gaining weight, often coupled with a distorted self image[1][2] which may be maintained by various cognitive biases[3] that alter how the affected individual evaluates and thinks about her or his body, food and eating. Persons with anorexia nervosa continue to feel hunger, but deny themselves all but very small quantities of food. The average caloric intake of a person with anorexia nervosa is 600-800 calories per day, but in extreme cases self-starvation is more extreme. [4]It is a serious mental illness with a high incidence of comorbidity and the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.[5]”

    Things to note – unhealthy, distorted, mental illness, mortality. Not sure I see something “good” or “sexy” in there.

    The ONLY key to happiness is a mental disorder???? @MrKennethTong clearly has no understanding of the magnitude of his own stupidity. His own words are conflicting.

    I can only hope that the example I set for my now 7 year old daughter will allow her to be fit, make healthy food choices and more importantly be happy with who she is – not happy if someone else thinks she is “good enough”. That is another whole post…

  11. Lisa Johnson January 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    Julie all excellent points and I’m sure your daughter will grow up with a great sense of self.

    Rita, great comment! Go get ’em.

  12. cheekie January 7, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    I did a bit of further digging, as I was so disgusted by him, I had to.
    If you go back into his posts pre-New Years, you will see a few things:
    – he is a blatant misogynist
    – he bragged about a great money making scheme he would launch in 2011
    (his whole Size Zero thing launched then – along with his pill claims)

    This is an obvious, and horrifying, self promotion game.
    He is using the insecurity and illness of others for his personal gain.
    He no more cares if your a zero or a twenty, as long as his wallet is full and he gets his much needed attention.

    This whole thing has raised his profile, and his followers, every minute we pay attention to him.

    He is obviously a very insecure, sick man, and any further tagging or trending of him and his views will further this perverted scheme.

    He is a disgrace, and a waste of a human being.

    I was very upset when I first heard about him and his views, and spent way too much time tonight on him. Enough.

  13. Lisa Johnson January 7, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    thanks for responding Cheekie, I hope you get some rest and idiots like this guy disappear. He’s had his 15 seconds of fame … he can slink back into his cave now.

  14. cheekie January 7, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    Thanks Lisa for writing this article, it helped me vent!
    This cave-dweller has really p*ssed me off.
    It’s hard enough teaching young women about healthy body image without some
    idiot coming along and undoing a whole lot of good.
    I just hope he hasn’t influenced or confused too many.

    Cheers, and thanks again!

  15. Lisa Bartleson January 7, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    This dumb a** needs to get his a** kicked if he thinks that anything other than a size zero is fat then there is something seriously wrong with his head. I’ve grown up with a low body image of my self and I still have one today at age 22 almost 23. It didn’t help that growing up my sister had and has bulimia. I’m so afraid that my nieces are going to end up becoming bulimic, the oldest one is already showing signs that it might happen and she is only 6 yrs. old. At Thanksgiving in 2009 she went into the bathroom cause she and I quote “Had to cough over the toilet.” As that is what her mom told her and her sister she was doing ever time she threw up. This dumb a** needs to be kicked off of the internet and his pills need to be locked away or destroyed.


  16. Kate January 7, 2011 at 8:07 am #


    I’m 15 and I have seen some of what this guy has said on twitter and it makes me feel sick. One of my best friends collapsed a while ago because she wasn’t eating enough. She is much better now but it’s people like him who are causing things like that to happen. It can be hard enough to accept your own body image without someone like him telling us that how we look is wrong.

    I think this article highlights what a sick man this Kenneth Tong is and I hope that people can ignore him and everything he is trying to say to us.

    Thank you for writing this, i think people need to know about this man in order to stop him.

  17. Lisa Johnson January 7, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Kate and Lisa, thanks so much for coming to the blog and adding your stories and voices. I was on the fence about writing this and giving him the time of day. Now I’m so happy I did because it gave people like you a place to be seen and heard. :-)

    Thanks and keep helping your peeps … good information can be hard to get out over good marketing …


  18. tammy January 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    I don’t what to say except that this guy will eventualy go away(but probaly will always try to stay in the spotlight)! No sane investor or anybody else will listen to this guy. I only hope it’s a joke. If not it doesn’t take a psychiatrist to see he is a narcissistic lunatic! I believe in free speech, but when it’s encouraging harm and death it crosses the line. It’s up to us a parents to educate our children to grow into intelligent adults and judge what they want to believe in and be strong. Let’s face it more than ever they are having to deal with an insane amount of information-many of it coming from sources claiming experts(ie.celebrities)…afterall one of those guys from that show where they get drunk, sleep with random girls, and fight was on the cover of Mens Health!!!sad

  19. Karis January 7, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    I would SO love to publish your blog post on my FB and Twitter pages, but I’d then be giving this monster more press.

    Being a size zero (having been one at one time, and being almost 6 feet tall), WILL NOT make you happy. It will take you to the point where, if you still have a pulse (which I almost did not), you will be obsessed with perfection, and with whatever addiction is keeping you there. And photographers and fashion industry people will still not be happy with you. They’ll find something else to criticize.

    Finally, to quote one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis: “You are not a body that has a soul, you are a soul that has a body.” Nourish and love yourself, mind, body, soul and sprit. Be the miracle of life that you are.

    (Besides, I did some other research on this…animal…and he is an alleged rapist.)

  20. Lisa Johnson January 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Karis thanks for giving your thoughts from a model’s perspective. I appreciate it and I love your C.S. Lewis quote. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :-)

  21. Lisa January 7, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    Yep, I gotta agree. He’s crazy. Your post was great, and I gotta agree with what you said. Was interesting to get a model’s perspective too, from reading Karis’ comment.

    Do you mind if I link to my own post about managed anorexia and Tong’s nuttiness? If not, apologies.

  22. Lisa Johnson January 7, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Sure Lisa, use the post anyway you’d like. Thanks for stopping in. :-) L–

  23. Rachel January 8, 2011 at 4:10 am #

    Very good article on this vile creature that seems to have finally reared its ugly head!
    We all know this isn’t his 1st shot at fame, he is fame hungry and would go to any lengths to get some publicity!
    Disappointing that Max Clifford is his PR manager, I thought that as an important person behind so many celebrities he wouldn’t like to be linked to this kind of rubbish. It just proves that he will represent anything that will line his wallet.

    However back on to Tong and this “managed anorexia” I genuinely think he doesn’t believe in this himself. Just creating hype around his name. I’m a healthy size 10/12 (uk) and a semi professional soccer player, I can 100% guarantee that I wouldn’t have had any kind of career in soccer if I would have tried “managed anorexia”.
    Hopefully him and his twisted messages will die down very very soon!!!

  24. Lisa Johnson January 8, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    Rachel, thanks very much for your comments, I’m glad an athlete has chimed in. I’m sure you can rock a little black dress as well as you can rock an opponent on the field! :-) Cheers, L–

  25. Bianka January 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    All I can say is that this guy sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a quick “money making scheme”..

    Needless to say- it is going to blow up in his face because his pathetic attempt to brainwash the public has
    failed- he already pissed off celebs like Rihanna, Simon Cowell and the Kardashians!! Now no idiot would promote a pill that is in any form linked to Kenneth Thong. (+ Especially after targeting the youth) oh, and no government would approve of it.
    Mr. Thong should plan a trip to a poor country in Africa and SEE what starvation really looks like on the youth
    …Not such a pretty sight

    »From the motherland

  26. Lisa Johnson January 8, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    Bianka, I really hesitated before pushing the publish button on this one and now I’m really glad I did. It’s gotten a lot of people talking and I think some good will come of it. Flying under the radar might be more dangerous than calling this guy out. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I appreciate it.


  27. Kenneth January 9, 2011 at 5:14 am #

    This is me, Kenneth.

    I assure you I am not going anywhere.

  28. Lisa Johnson January 9, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    Kenneth, that’s quite possible, we shall see. Would you care to elaborate on what “managed anorexia” entails? Do you have any medical expertise to refer to in support of it?


  29. Michelle January 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    Very interesting post, though I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a size 0 – we’re all created differently, that’s the beauty of life. Comparing someone who is a size 0 to the pant size of an 8 year old sends a message that there is something wrong with being thin or small waisted and that it is somehow inappropriate for an adult to be that size. I also think that for those people who are struggling with their weight already (especially those trying to put on weight) these kind of comments can create more insecurity. I whole heartedly agree that Kenneth’s message is damaging and that his diet pill sounds incredibly dangerous, however feeding his need for publicity is just going to give him more power.

  30. Lisa Johnson January 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    Michelle, I see your point. I put that statistic there to show how unrealistic it is for most people. I also stated in the article that there are people who are naturally a size zero and that’s totally ok. It is a small percentage. People who are trying to gain weight are often feel left out because people tell them they’re “lucky” to be so thin. I know that’s not always the case. Thanks for bringing in your perspective, I appreciate it. I didn’t intend for size zeros to feel bad in any way, more to highlight how hard it can be to achieve a size zero if you’re no where near it.


  31. Jessica January 12, 2011 at 1:51 am #

    I can’t even describe how angry this idiot makes me. There aren’t enough words to even touch how enraged the idea of ‘managed anorexia’ gets me. The last time I heard, it was a CRIME to encourage people to hurt themselves, like the way it is for people to commit suicide. If you are encouraging people to develop a mental illness, aren’t you somehow contributing to the possibility that they could die??? Doesn’t that matter?

  32. Sonia Simone January 13, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    The U.S. Federal government takes a very dim view of people who sell fake diet pills, or dangerous diet pills. Reporting this guy to the FTC, your state’s DA, or even to your local better business bureau will help them catch up with him and shut him down.

    A big-name internet marketer had 100% of his assets seized and very nearly went to jail for a scheme that was pretty mild compared with this.

  33. Lisa Johnson January 13, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    Sonia, good to know, thanks for sharing that. He’s in Britain I believe so I don’t know what happens with international rules … but we can prolly block this stuff getting sold pretty easily in the States. IF he actually ever brings anything to market.

  34. Brenna January 13, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    Did you notice his post a day or two ago about it being a hoax?

  35. Lisa Johnson January 14, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    Brenna, I didn’t! I’ll go check it out, thanks … L–

  36. Sonia Simone January 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    To sidetrack off of the charming Mr. Tong and his hoax, the FTC will cheerfully sue people in other countries (esp. english-speaking countries with friendly legal systems) if they sell in the US, which of course nearly all online marketers do.

    Something to remember for the next jerk.

  37. Lisa Johnson January 14, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    part of me wants to give him props. It’s wrong on so many levels, but it worked … we all bought in. Even media savvy guys like Simon Cowell who certainly knows how to spin a story … or was it their mutual agent that created the SM interaction?

  38. Tanja Guven September 13, 2011 at 4:48 am #

    Personally I’m all in favor of using this twit to feed the homeless. I’m actually kind of glad that he rules out 99% of the planet as possibilities–saves us from being bothered by him.

    Idiot man.

  39. Lisa Johnson September 13, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    lol, Thanks Tanja, he did admit later that the whole thing was a hoax, a bet with a friend to see if it could go viral. We all have egg on our face.


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