Journalist Sarah Gill delves into the media's depiction of food and how it may play into diet culture.

"There’s nothing in here but ice cream, candy bars, cookie dough, canned frosting - why are you not 450 pounds?" Gilmore Girls’ Luke Danes asks as he peers into Lorlei’s fridge.

"I know, scientists call it the Lorlei paradox," the show’s star responds, referencing the miracle metabolism shared by both herself and her daughter, Rory, that crops up in conversation a few too many times over the course of the sitcom’s seven season run.

The dynamic duo’s effortless maintenance of their figures, despite apparently surviving solely off leftovers, burgers and gallons of black coffee, is amplified by the compulsion of their surrounding characters to be thinner, fitter, and healthier.

From Lorlei laughing off concierge Michel’s fad diets to Rory’s annoyance at her college roommate’s exercise routine, it’s clear that the insecurities and ambitions of those who were not blessed with the Gilmore genes were simply beyond our leading ladies’ understanding.

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Food plays something of a supportive role in the Gilmore Girls. From Friday night dinners and Suki's kitchen at the inn to Luke’s Diner and Jackson’s vegetable patch, Stars Hollow plays host to a community of fervent foodies.

Just as it does in the real world, the food on this television series allows for bonding, is a form of socialisation, a love language, the foundations of a community. While it casts some of our characters as nurturing caretakers, we're repetitively bet over the head with the I-can-eat-whatever-I-want-and-not-get-fat schtick from our mother-daughter duo.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone metabolises food at a different rate, and the way our bodies store fat and builds muscle can be down to a number of factors, including genetics, but this trope has existed within film, television, and the media at large for as far back as the eye can see.

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It becomes even more exacerbating when you contrast the diet and proudly non-existent exercise regime of Lorlei Gilmore with that of the actress that plays the role, Lauren Graham.

Youtuber Jessica Viana has a series on her channel where she takes a deep dive into the behind the scenes diets of actors in some of the '00s and ‘90s most beloved TV shows.

In her Gilmore Girls analysis, she found that Graham revealed that she had, in fact, spent most of her life on a strict diet. Graham told US Magazine, "I’ve been on a diet for 35 years," since the age of 11, and revealed that she’s found the less she thinks about food, the happier she is.

According to Viana, the actress’ exercise routine varies from running and trampolining to Pilates and spinning, so it can be fairly deduced that the slim and toned physique of Lorlei Gilmore was not some scientific anomaly.

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In more similar times, Megan Fox sparked a similar outrage with an Instagram post featuring her unmistakable six-pack captioned: "I don't exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over he would have put diamonds on the floor."

Entire Instagram accounts have been set up dedicated to models posing alongside burgers and pizza slices that leave the viewer wondering how they can eat whatever they want and never suffer the consequences, while the innocent onlooker has been conditioned to worry at every bite thanks, in no small part, to the media consumed during formative years.

Look, the toxic diet culture of the '00s and ‘90s is well documented, and food has always played a major role in the media we consume, whether we directly realise it or not. It's a way of adding a layer of subtext to a character, and gives off a real air of male gaze energy when looking back in hindsight.

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When a female character is broken up with, she'll binge on ice cream straight from the tub, will probably have ketchup smeared down her shirt, and will likely call in a delivery to a restaurant that knows her order by heart, and always assume she’s ordering for two.

Perpetuation of thinness as the ideal and food as something to obsess over was often explicitly written into the script, but in many cases, food exists as a sub-plot in and of itself, just under the radar but loud enough to burrow into our subconscious.

It also helped to birth the ‘cool girl’ trope, which, according to that infamous Gone Girl monologue, involves drinking canned beer and watching Adam Sandler movies, eating cold pizza and remaining a size two.

This is the perfect illusion we’ve been taught to aspire to. An impossible standard that was set without our consent, but still affects our mindsets and decision making, and the hangover from that culture still makes many buy a dress a size too small as a form of motivation, while making others experts in weighing up the calorific content of a meal at a glance.

Our timelines are saturated with What I Eat in a Day videos that no one asked for, we’re given breakdowns of Kim Kardashian’s strict crash diet in preparation for the MET Gala dress, and haunted by the miniscule swirls of spaghetti served at the Kravis wedding of the century.

Our relationship with food is a tumultuous affair, and is constantly being informed by the media we consume.

From on screen to everyday life, food plays a much larger role than Maslow’s hierarchy of needs would have you believe. Yes, food provides sustenance for life, but many of us have a much more complex relationship with these platefuls of ingredients or late night snacks. Food can lurk in the peripheries of our vision like a villain, or provide the comfort and support of a loving friend.

If you have been affected by issues raised in this story, please visit: www.rte.ie/helplines.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ.