We’re all familiar with the sanctimony of some dieters. Dieting is painful, and obsessive – it’s only natural people going through it would want some kind of incentive from the world, some kind of approbation for their struggle.
However, dieter sanctimony – the idea that the struggles of the dieter more closely parallel a moral quest for enlightenment than simply a desire to attain a popular body type – is far more than simple approbation. It places the dieter on a moral high ground, and all non-dieting fat people on a low ground. The dogma of the sanctimonious dieter: “I did it, so you can do it, too!”
We read it in comment pages on any article that even hints at weight, we hear it at family dinners or friend get-togethers, we see it in diet ads on TV, buses, and train station walls.
However, dieter sanctimony is fundamentally non-threatening. They can’t force us to be like them – they can’t force us to “do it, too.”
Unless, of course, they’ve got a big public grant, and serve on the Massachusetts Public Health Council.
She landed in Boston as a slight 8-year-old, a child of immigration. And with the start of school came loneliness.
“I had no friends,” Lucilia Prates Ramos said. “Food became my friend. It’s hard to give up a good friend.”
Now, after decades of battling weight gain, Prates Ramos serves on the state’s Public Health Council, an appointed panel that establishes the health agenda in Massachusetts.The council yesterday expressed wide support for a campaign against obesity championed by Governor Deval Patrick’s administration, and, as it did, Prates Ramos acknowledged to fellow members: This struggle is my struggle, too.
If one santimonious dieter weren’t enough, the Public Health Council is fortunate to sport two:
Paul J. Lanzikos told the council he has lost 40 pounds in the past 10 weeks, a pronouncement that sparked applause. Lanzikos said that for years, as executive director of North Shore Elder Services, he has urged the aged to take better care of themselves. A few months back, he said, he decided he should heed his own advice.
“Literally, my knees were so painful, it was hard to walk up stairs,” said Lanzikos, who dropped from 333 to 293 pounds.
In an interview, he attributed his success to Weight Watchers and his “advocating wife.”
Great, so he’s got a concern-troll spouse, is in the pocket of Weight Watchers (who likely saw Mass in Motion coming down the pipeline and wanted to do a special kind of lobbying), and a shitty doctor who couldn’t help him with his pain. Oh yes, and I call Bingo! on “taking better care of themselves” = “weight loss.”
For all who aren’t familiar, Mass in Motion is a statewide program in Massachusetts to combat obesity, announced recently by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. It aims to put calorie counts on all menu options in all restaurants in the state (great idea during this soft economy — d’oh!), and would require all children to be weighed every four years of school (because public school is where the state gets to control your kids and you can’t do a daggum thing about it, because you can’t afford to send them to private school because of your ever-increasing state and federal taxes — nyah, nyah!).
Here’s Sandy at Junk Food Science’s take on Mass in Motion.
The two quoted members of the Public Health Council, Ramos and Lanzikos, represent two kinds of sanctimonious dieters – the Guilty Emotional Eater (hon, everyone eats emotionally, sometimes), and the Fountain of Youther (get some cortisone, and tell your wife that losing weight will not make you immortal).
But don’t they represent a good deal of the Fantasy of Being Thinners? Which is why the Public Health Council was so moved, and it will be why Massachusetts is going to swallow decreasing individual liberty and loss of body autonomy with a grin and applause.
I’ve got to get out of this state.