"I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth."

--Ursula K. Leguin

November 2009



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People are weird about food

Lois remarked on a book she'd read, today, The Diet Myth by Paul Campos. She included a quote I thought was right on the money:

The weight loss industry exploits cultural anxieties about fat to sell its customers products that don't work, over and over again, by convincing those customers that it is *they* who are defective. The failure of these products is ascribed to the moral weakness of those who purchase them, thus allowing the cycle to go on indefinitely. But the situation is more complex than this. It takes a great deal of cultural distortion to cause normal market mechanisms to break down so completely (blaming your customers for the catastrophic failure of your products isn't usually considered a sound business practice.)

The obesity myth thrives in contemporary America because America is an eating-disordered culture. Moreover, the prime symptoms of this situation -- our increasing rates of "overweight", bulimia, and anorexia -- are also symptoms of, and have become metaphors for, a broader set of cultural anxieties...

And it's dreadfully true. The diet industry is more pernicious than the tobacco companies, not least because of all the other industries that have formed themselves around this bizarre notion that humans should be skinny. US culture has astonishingly unhealthy standards of "beauty", and I believe they tie directly into the equally unhealthy sedentary culture. After all, if it's obvious on the face of it that one is never going to look like the models/actors/athletes/etc. without truly heroic and life-busting measures, and probably not even then, why bother trying at all? The lack of a sensible or sane target and body-image promotes apathy, and the lack of results from the "diets" does the same. The results of random negative stimulus are well proven.


Apr. 5th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
Huh. That sounds like a remarkably sensible sort of book.
Apr. 5th, 2009 12:27 pm (UTC)
It really does. Because, seriously, the diet programs are right up there with the "online pharmacy viagra" for efficacy.