Rants & Raves
THE CARE AND FEEDING OF YOUR NEW OBESITY EPIDEMIC
by Lynne Murray
Your new Obesity Epidemic has been carefully designed to provide you with a lifetime of yo-yo dieting drama, to maximize profits flowing from your pockets to the diet/weight loss industry, and to further disconnect you from your body.
There are no health benefits to owning an Obesity Epidemic. Standard equipment with each unit purchased is a set of rose-colored goggles to assist in creating the illusion that each "new improved" diet will provide magical results, even when it is identical to every other diet, and equally futile. The optional Selective Amnesia Attachment allows you to purchase the same diet over and over.
Guilt, blame and self-abasement instructions to accompany the failure of each diet are readily accessible through any and every media outlet. Feel free to customize, with extra points given for personal creativity in cruel remarks about diet failures of self and others.
The manufacturers assume no liability should your use of the Obesity Epidemic lead to Anorexia, Bulimia or Death. Those games are sold separately.
The plain truth behind the so-called obesity epidemic is that it doesn't exist. There is no obesity bug that you can “catch” like typhoid or bubonic plague. What's contagious here is the hysteria.
Nearly all the warnings about obesity are based on statistical conjecture made by those with the most to gain from the claims... More Americans die every year from weighing too little than from weighing too much.
If it's a lie, how come we hear so much about it?
For one thing, it's a very profitable lie. As Upton Sinclair put it, "It is difficult to get a man to understand a thing when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Pure greed and grubbing for research funding may corrupt even "pure" scientists to exploit the hysteria over obesity to further their careers.
Also some doctors and researchers are themselves infected with the hysteria. Even though they know about the dismal 95% failure rate of diets, they continue to recommend them.
What pops out at me as if it was written in red letters ten feet tall is message:
"Dieting doesn't work, but do it anyway."
Hang on a second, let's think this through. The message seems to be that being fat is so bad that we should do something that won't even make us thinner in the long run, let alone healthier—and may end up making us even fatter in a few years.
This makes no sense at all if the goal really is to lose weight.
What is this strange force that turns rational physicians into babbling bigots when it comes to fat patients?
I'm beginning to think this obesity epidemic has little or nothing to do with weight, or even health. The bizarre logic behind recommending a futile course of action starts to make sense when you realize that the goal is not weight loss but punishment of the body.
Being fat is seen as a visible evidence of sin.
The words Gluttony and Sloth frequently pop up as humorous headlines in coverage about the Obesity Epidemic. Invoking two of the Seven Deadly Sins is not really a joke so much as an accusation. The underlying (false!) belief is that greed and laziness are at the root of all fatness. Never mind that it's been proven that fatness arises from a variety of causes and endures on the body for a number of reasons. This is about prejudice, not facts.
The Obesity Epidemic taps into a deeply conditioned hatred of the flesh. Western culture has long nurtured a mistrust of the body and an urgent need to control physical desires for fear of being overwhelmed by them. That's why "Control" is such a magic word when it comes to anything related to our bodies.
When control fails, frustration often boils over into violence. This used to be called mortifying the flesh. Fasting, and lashing oneself with whips was (and in some places still is) a spiritual practice aimed at driving out spiritual pollution.
This punishment has also been performed on the bodies of others, without their consent, "for their own good." Violence against a given group of people is easier to sell if the person being targeted can be dehumanized. Every day of the week we see fatness presented as making a person less than human.
Television reports on the Obesity Epidemic are often accompanied by film footage of "headless fat people" shown only from the shoulders to the thighs, inviting the viewer to see these faceless non-people as "them" not "us". This dehumanization is particularly horrific when we see it aimed at fat children. When shown on television, it's a license to bully.
A story is being told by these images and words. That story has nothing to do with reality—or health.
The target is anyone with a body. People of every size are encouraged to divide their bodies into the good parts (muscles) and the bad part (fat)—and to try to destroy the bad parts.
Titles of diet books make this clear—shed the fat, burn the fat, flush the fat. The message is that fat, a living part of our bodies, is an external coating to be scraped off, garbage to be burned or waste to be flushed. Is it any wonder that the more dedicated dieters so easily slip into bulimia and anorexia? Fat is bad, so why not eliminate every iota of it?
Fat serves many important purposes in our body. We literally cannot live without it. Trying to eliminate a functioning part of your body is a warning signal of serious mental illness.
How many anorexic angels can dance on the head of a pin?
The connection of fat = evil and thin = good has been so hammered into people's brains that weight loss surgery is presented as a heroic journey, like a vision quest or crusade in search of the holy grail of thinness.
Yo-yo dieting is described in terms usually reserved for struggles between good and evil. Despite the proven fact that losing and regaining weight is known to be extremely damaging to the body, each new diet episode is applauded as if the yo-yo had never been up and down the string before. The best-known example of this is Oprah Winfrey, who perpetually loses and regains weight. Her legions of admirers see her as a heroic figure, eternally wrestling with the devil of her weight.
Why do we keep on buying it, even when it hurts us?
People who have no problem with the idea of "whipping our bodies into shape" are often threatened and disturbed when they encounter fat people accepting and nurturing their own bodies. It's as if coming to terms with one's body constituted inviting Satan in to set up housekeeping.
We live in gale force winds of misinformation. Praise is heaped on those who most effectively starve, and frequently damage their bodies. The only way to make peace with the body is to tune out the diet babble, and look beyond the pre-digested press releases being spat out in every mass media outlet.
The only reward for treating our bodies with respect is a quiet, but real healing of the wounds of mistreatment. The ultimate reward is learning to trust ourselves. Feeling better, mentally and physically is worth the effort.
How do you heal a heart divided against itself?
The first step is making peace our body as it is right now. That is such a radical concept in this high-water moment body hatred that it's not going to happen in one blinding moment of insight. It takes work to learn to listen to and respect the body's real needs.
Health at Any Size is not for sale. The advertising-fuelled mass media ignore it because there's no product to be sold and no profit to be made. So don't expect to see television, magazines and billboards with ads for accepting your body right now, as it is.
You may have to do it yourself, but you don't have to do it alone. Information and the beginnings of a community are out there. Finding them does take a little work.
Respecting one's body is a skill that can be learned.
Others have been down this road. There are roadmaps and street signs on the journey. But mostly it's individuals and small groups of people communicating heart to heart.
People share their experience and reach out to others because it hurts to watch others damage their bodies in the name of health. People don't do it for profit. And they certainly don't do it for glory. They do it in spite of hostility from those who fear the very idea of fat acceptance. People do it because it's the right thing to do. These are not people who occupy positions of power and influence. Their only authority comes from speaking the truth about their own experiences.
Or you could just buy the Obesity Epidemic propaganda with all its official stamps and media blitz. In which case you will need to know what to feed it.
Your new Obesity Epidemic will devour as much as you offer it of the two things it needs to survive.So what does it eat? Your money and your life.
© Lynne Murray