Slim 365 – Oprah used it, so should you!

I got a slimming pill ad in my email, and being bored today I decided to open it up. How little has changed since I spent my adolescence dieting on and off with the same ten pounds. Hey, it seemed like a lot at the time, and I’d always been so skinny it was devastating to gain weight, you know! I used to read all the crappy pitches for pills in the back of trashy magazines, and sometimes I’d even order them. By the time I cottoned to the fact that every single one came with a stringent, 1000 calorie diet that had to be followed (when the ads said “Do nothing and lose tons of weight!”) I stopped buying them. I once ordered the one thing that sounded different – Chinese edible crystals that you sprinkle on your food and eat, or dissolve in water and drink, and it would do its magic in your tummy, and you would just lose weight. Eat whatever you want. So I tried it. The third day I woke up at exactly the same time (10 hours after eating the crystals) with the same hard bubbled-out belly that HURT and caused me to spend at least 45 minutes in the bathroom to end it. When I realized what was causing that, I stopped using it. I did leave one packet in water and by the next morning it had turned into a sticky mass of clear slime. Weird. But at least it was different.

I don’t think these companies are even trying anymore. There were always ads that certain combinations of foods could make you lose weight with no effort, that this pill would speed up your metabolism (caffeine, and later guarana), lessen your appetite (again, caffeine and nausea from whatever else they put in it) and a starvation diet would combine to make you skinny by summer! Then came SlimFast and it seemed ok – drink two meal replacement shakes a day – chocolate! which you’re deathly sick of by day 3 – and eat a sensible dinner. I decided it would be cheaper (and the same calorie-wise) to drink two pints of chocolate milk (full fat) – Nestle – and eat that sensible dinner from the menu plans that came with the SlimFast. It worked. Of course I could smoke at my desk then and I spent a fortune on cigarettes, but whatever. Once I tried my doctor’s 1000 calorie diet while doing nautilus and aerobic walking at the gym and lost 20 lbs and looked like a hardbody; that was kind of fun. It took a few months to gain it back that time. I tried LA Weight Loss but the food was so heinous I had to stop in a week – hot lemon juice in the morning followed by rabbit food and Wasa crackers and fake bacon bits. Wasa crackers are evil. (My apologies to fans.) My metabolism changed completely after I had a baby, and that was that. 6 months on Jenny Craig and two hours rigorous workout daily and I lost maybe 5 pounds – yeah, no. I gave up then and there.

But back to Slim 365. (The link and a review.)

Let’s replay the past, shall we?

Block dietary fats, eh? Gee, I thought we learned with starch blockers that blocking one of the three ways you can ingest a calorie was a Bad Idea. In, like, the early 90s. You don’t hear about the miracle starch blockers much anymore. Too many sick people. Now we’ll block fat, like Olestra, and we can have anal leakage so foul that they tell you to carry extra pants and warn that the stain will never come out of your toilet. Yum. Maybe that’s how they suppress your appetite.

Increase your resting metabolism. Caffeine again! I take Ativan to prevent jitters and panic attacks and aid my fight against insomnia; the last thing I want in my body is caffeine to make me jitter and jounce and stay awake. No thanks.

It suppresses your appetite. More nausea! Yay! If I’m going to torment myself, I might as well just buy Dexatrim; it has the same effect. You don’t lose weight, but you feel like shit.

Plus, it cleanses your body! I thought water, kidneys, the liver, skin and the like did that? But hey, if you want to go in for a useless colonic irrigation, go for it – whatever floats your boat. All that stuff woulda been gone the next day anyway, but who’m I to tell you what to do?

Also, Oprah did not use this product nor has she endorsed it. So they still lie.

Do these pitches ever change? The pills? Who buys this stuff?

Webmd says it will improve your skin and help you avoid diabetes. Now there’s a responsible claim. Based, I assume, on the erroneous truism that it’s fat that causes diabetes? Shocker.

You know, it’s just so boring. To read a weight loss pill ad all these years later and find it exactly the same as the ones I’ve ever read – from the pitch, to the false claims, to the things it does…can’t they at least be a little creative?

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On Diets

I’m writing this post in response to Meowser’s excellent post There Are Diets, And Then There Are DIETS. It was truly excellent, and made me start thinking about how my very unusual dietary requirements go practically counter to how fat people such as myself are often told they “should” eat.

I have orthostatic hypotension, brachycardia, vasovagal something-or-other, and generally horrible circulation. These are all generally spawned from too-low blood pressure, or hypotension. I also have lipedema, which though thought largely genetic, is also associated with hypotension and poor circulation.

Because of these conditions, I have to make sure I eat a sufficient amount of things most fat people (and most people in general) are told aren’t generally good for them:

1. I have to make sure I’m salting my food.

2. I have to get enough sodium in general.

3. Every morning I should drink a cup of strong coffee.

Keeping hydrated is something else I need to do, though I need to make sure sometimes to:

4. Drink water with some kind of sugar in it.

I also should:

5. Stay away from alcohol. Even a glass or two could send my blood pressure through the floor, as it is a depressant.

6. Stay away from other depressive substances.

And exercise? I need to:

7. Be careful and don’t do cardio training for any solid length of time (like months). Cardio training can lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

Also, guess what else lowers blood pressure? Calorie restriction. So:

8. Do not diet for weight loss.

Additionally, women with lipedema are usually told:

9. Do not diet for weight loss, since there is a much higher incidence of anorexia in women with lipedema. Dieting will not remove the lipedemic fat, the metabolism of the cells of which are damaged and the lipedemic fat won’t “shed.”

So all in all, with my various very genetic (all passed from my Dad’s family) disorders that are tied into hypotension, dieting for weight loss, and cardio training, are generally prohibited.

What happens if I don’t follow the prescriptions to keep my low blood pressure at a reasonable rate? I didn’t, for a few years, so I know the answer to this:

I generally feel ill. I pass out after getting out of the shower, on a humid day inside or outside or in the car, feel ill after exercising, feel ill all the time in general. Foggy, can’t think, nauseous, can’t breathe, headaches, dizzy.

I was lucky. Only one time did I pass out and get slightly injured; the other times I was able to “take myself down” once the symptoms of fainting starting cropping up. But as anyone who’s watched “Million Dollar Baby” knows, it only takes one bad fall to pretty much end your life.

So is a weight-loss diet, the antithesis of what *I personally* need to eat for *my personal* optimal health, worth paralysis or death?

The person who refuses to sit next to me on an airplane, or the subway, or a bus, or the train, thinks so. The person who has to look at my cellulite on the beach thinks so. Tam Fry thinks so.

What do you think?

Biggest Losers?

My supervisor casually mentioned the other day that there was a “Biggest Loser” contest, and I had no idea what she meant at first. Then I realized – the company is having a diet competition. Well I simply said “Oh, I wouldn’t be interested in that,” which she already knows very well. She tried to interest me by saying the prize was $500. Well, thanks – I know she is concerned about my finances, and I appreciate it. But that is not the answer. Then I asked if she was interested, maybe that’s why she mentioned it. She expressed some annoyance that since we’re some of the only people on our shift, she wouldn’t have anyone to do it with so she wasn’t going to. At least I think that was the implication. Later, in a separate incident, a young man who I also work closely with came out with a jelly donut, and I knew the day guy had come back with a dozen really good gourmet donuts, and it looked plump and wonderful. I wasn’t hungry but I never get donuts, so I said “T, go get me one of those, please!” For some reason he decided to get fresh with me and told me to go get it myself. I playfully argued back that I had ordered his dinner for him and brought him things that he never ate, and he argued back all the things he does for me, and finally I trumped him. I pointed at him and said, “Do you have any idea what it’s like to be a fat woman asking for a donut?”Well my supervisor was shocked into a brief laugh – for some reason I guess no one expects you to say something like that. But it’s sort of true – once in a while you just don’t feel like asking a man for a donut, you know? If they were set out in my office, yeah, but it’s in the next room. Well, he countered that he didn’t know what it was like to be a fat woman but he did know what it was like to be a fat man and a fat kid, etc. Which was fair, so I said “Ok, I don’t care; I’m not ashamed to go get a damn donut.” He was actually happy – I think HE was embarrassed and he admiringly said, “See, I knew you don’t care what nobody says.” So he might have needed some inspiration too. I went, but there were no jelly left, so punchline is I never got the donut. But the actual point is she – my supervisor – only mentions being fat in hushed tones and I think it was kind of shocking, even though I’ve been really clear on this, that I really am not embarrassed about myself. That I don’t mind bringing up my size because it’s really obvious and people need to stop being so obsessed with it anyway.

So what does this all have to do with the picture? I was looking up a picture to go with “Biggest Loser” and came across this story. Featuring that woman. My first thought was “I love the blouse” and second was “she’s in this topic because she’s fat and fat people are in topics because they’re on a diet.” Ok that wasn’t precisely my second thought but I’m not telling you exactly what it was, so there.

But it was sadly exactly true. There are some really sad things in there. She’s on a show they call “The Biggest Loser” which is a really wonderful, not shitty name at all. Or concept. I think the losers are the people who make the show. She’s a size 27 (and she finds gorgeous clothes in that size, even if I wouldn’t wear a revealing blouse like that ’cause I’m shy that way and much older than her). She’s on this humiliating crash diet to fit into her wedding dress. They talk to her fiance.

Whereas nutritionists and community health experts have blasted The Biggest Loser boot camp as a humiliating exercise that sets up the contestants for failure and depression, Geoff shrugs and says: “I don’t want to say this is her last chance . . . but it’s probably her best chance.”

Nutritionists and health experts acknowledge that this thing is a disaster for human beings. Humiliating, depressing, and ultimately doomed. And this man who loves this woman can only shrug and say it’s her best chance? At what? Depression, failure and humiliation? Why? Do you love her?

Geoff…knows that Cat has by now lost a chunk of weight.

“Even the contestants who get thrown off in the first week lose weight,” he says.

So what? She is a size 27. If dieting worked as is claimed, it would take 80 weeks at least for her to get down to maybe 150 pounds. In one week, what can you possibly lose that matters unless you are two pounds ‘overweight’? It would probably take a year before the weight loss was noticeable, and that’s making the false assumption that dieting works like it’s supposed to.

He’s not praying for a hard-bellied babe. All he wants is for Cat to slim to the point where she can safely have a baby and live a long and healthy life. “I don’t want to lose her,” he says.

Who has told her or him that she can’t “safely” have a baby or live a long healthy life? She doesn’t look sick – just fat. Maybe she is, but sick people can’t participate in grueling self-torture exercises for television, so I doubt it. She might be sick afterwards, though. Or after she yo-yos around a while because everyone is telling her she can’t be fat and have a life. Someone please take this young man and shake him for me!

Then her twin sister gets in the act, and this makes me angry. The fiance is bad enough, but this is worse.

Says Melissa: “They get us to stand side by side and go, ‘Oh yeah, you’ve got the same eyes.’ I want my twin back.”

Melissa says the family has tried staging interventions without success. “There were times when we’d all be together and decide it was time to talk about Cat’s weight, but she wouldn’t be in it and the discussions always turned heated,” she says.

“She just wasn’t ready . . . it was like she wasn’t seeing how big she was. At the same time, there are four girls in the family and she’s the only one without a baby . . . and that hurts her.”

You want your twin back to reflect you and your self-image. You have your twin, but she needs to look different. Maybe you’re afraid you will end up looking like her because of genetics. You would stage interventions for her with your family? How cruel can you possibly be? Nowhere – please note that nowhere – is it suggested that she is stuffing herself full of deadly toxins (or, food). No one has mentioned her habits at all, just the fact that she is big. And in denial or something. (Why does she have to shrink to make you happy? Why don’t you accept her as she is?) It is just implied that since she is fat, she must be gorging herself to the busting point every single day year after year. But no one has said anything like that. They have said she’s big, she doesn’t fit a dress, she didn’t respond to family gangpiling, she makes her twin insecure and she doesn’t have a baby, but not that she is playing Nintendo all day and stuffing garbage bags of Doritos down her throat. So why do they think that eating is the problem, therefore not eating will solve it? Where is that logic from?

Also, why does her sister point out her not having a baby as anything to do with her being fat? She is engaged to be married. She is clearly not having a problem getting a man because of her fat. She is not married yet, therefore perhaps she is sad that she hasn’t gotten to this stage, but would like to do it in that order? Get married and then have a baby? What does any of that have to do with being fat? It is not suggested that she was trying to get pregnant before her wedding – in fact, I highly doubt it since she is trying to lose weight to fit in a wedding dress, not get a pregnant belly.

Saddest of all is that it seems clear she was resisting others’ bullying efforts to get her to conform to their ideas, even though if they bothered to learn they would know how tortuous diets are, and how futile in the long run. How, in fact, dangerous they are to one’s health. But instead of learning, they ran with the “common knowledge” and pressured her for years until she finally caved in and is subjecting herself to a brutal starvation diet and punishing exercise regimen as well as public humiliation. I can’t finish it. If there’s anything worse on the second page, maybe I don’t want to know.

On paralleling breast reduction and weight loss

Bri recently wrote a very thought-provoking post on the different perceptions at Shapely Prose between breast reduction and weight loss, in general. She argues that if it is acceptable to get a breast reduction in order to ease discomfort, why isn’t it acceptable to lose weight for the same reason?

I agree with what many of the commenters said, so make sure to read their comments if you haven’t already. But I’d like to offer my own analysis of the parallel, which really gets to the core of my particular brand of FA activism.

I tend to think of my place as an FA activist more aligned with trying to debunk what I see is a moral panic/crusade against fat and fat people, rather than promoting Health At Every Size or Intuitive Eating, as some other FA blogs do. That makes my take on this issue, I think, somewhat different than that of some other FA bloggers.

To begin, I think that weight loss in order to be thinner is a significantly more morally-charged issue than breast reduction (which leads naturally to weight loss). Regardless of how one gets there, thinner people are currently viewed on average as less lazy, smarter, more stable, more beautiful, and morally ‘better’ than fatter people.

I don’t think you get the same moral value judgment being made about women who get breast reductions. Sure, there is the issue of what is considered attractive or not, and some of the decision for getting a breast reduction might have to do with aesthetics, but it is nowhere near as morally charged an issue as losing weight in order to become, overall, thinner.

There’s also the difference in health outcomes and sustainability. No diet has been shown to be largely long-term (>5 years) effective, and weight loss surgery is significantly more dangerous than breast reduction surgery, both immediately, but especially in the long term.

But even if there were a procedure to safely, permanently, and with the same risks as breast reduction surgery make someone who is fat not so fat anymore (I’m not talking about 10 lbs of liposuction here and there, obviously), there’s still the question of the moral imperative to conform to what the culture currently considers aesthetically pleasing. Should that be a thing which an FA activist such as myself promotes?

If I’m trying to bust the moral judgments based on fat, then the answer would be a resounding, “no.”

So here’s my analysis: if there were a procedure as safe and permanent as breast reduction surgery that could make a fatter person more comfortable, and they want to get it, I have no philosophical problem with that. But there isn’t. If there were, and many used it as a tool to conform to thin aesthetics rather than for comfort, I would have a philosophical problem with that, because it comes with the natural conclusion that thinner people are somehow “better” in general than fatter people.

The parallel between that and breast reduction is, in general, people don’t consider someone with breasts big enough to cause discomfort “better” than a person with breasts reduced so as not to cause discomfort. Sure, there’s a pocket of the populace that’s obsessed with large breasts, but I don’t believe even they place moral value on bigger over smaller breasts.

In conclusion, the drive to be thinner, even if there were a safe and permanent way to do so, is morally charged and thus morally divisive, while the desire to get a breast reduction is not. Also there is, unfortunately, no way to safely and permanently ease the discomfort of fat people, so it isn’t intellectually rigorous to make the parallel with breast reduction.

For instance, here’s a bit of anecdata – as an obese person, I’m not uncomfortable at all. Therefore, in the existence of a safe and permanent method of weight loss, the question would be purely moral/aesthetic. I would not do it. Not to conform, and not to appear a ‘better’ person than the fatter me. The desire to lose weight in order to conform and be ‘better’ is precisely the kind of attitude I’m trying to fight. First I refused to be an enabler by buying into the fat/thin moral value system. Secondly, I decided to become an activist in order to spread the word that this moral value system exists, is wrong, and should be obliterated else the already-suffering victims of this moral panic/crusade will suffer much, much more.

What do you think?

Bad Fatty Revolutionary

Good fatties, bad fatties. For a long time there have existed the stereotypes of two groups which exist within the fat acceptance movement. I think the good fatty/bad fatty debate is an important part of outlining how FA can become a more effective movement, by taking a hard look at what kind of discrimination against fat people in which our own members engage.

The worst thing for a movement is to have some members who are engaging in hypocrisy, with that hypocrisy not being condemned by the more vocal members of the movement. It creates a weak spot at which our opponents can readily plunge a rhetorical knife. I think the hypocrisy in which some of our members engage, and a hypocrisy which threatens to kill the movement or at the least make it a joke, is Healthism.

Healthism, as I define it, is the act of making health a moral imperative. That is, to be a worthwhile, contributing member of society, you should attempt to be at the best health possible. If you do not, then your worth as an individual goes down. Healthism dictates that the unhealthy are harmful, unattractive, a drain on society, stupid, and otherwise deviant.

There seems to be a dichotomy within FA, in which some members engage in and support Healthism in one way or another, and others do not. Sometimes this is political – a fundamental belief in the importance of public health at times can breed a Healthist attitude – and sometimes it is personal.

It’s my opinion that the Healthist members of FA are the ones who are stereotyped as “good fatties.” Here is my list of the most common stereotypical behaviors associated with being a “good fatty:”

  • Outlining, in detail, their exercise regime.
  • Outlining, in detail, what they eat, or saying simply, “But I eat healthy, I’m a [INSERT HEALTHIST DIETARY GROUP HERE].”
  • Being Healthist in general – that is, claiming that being healthy is an important social goal and good and should be an individual goal for everyone – but decrying fat discrimination in the next breath.
  • Hinting that if there were a safe, proven way to become thin, they would abandon their fat bodies.
  • Being personally opposed to the same deviant behavior fat-haters blame on all fat people: laziness, lack of willpower, stupidity, bad hygiene – and breathlessly reiterating over and over again that they are not one of “those” fat people (sometimes by claiming those fat people don’t exist!).
  • Being so obsessed with mythbusting they don’t realize they’re creating a sub-deviant class within the group of fat people, which isn’t protected by their brand of fat acceptance – “bad fatties.”

And here are the possibly well-known stereotypes of being a “bad fatty”:

  • Not caring about health.
  • Eating fast food more than once a month.
  • Eating convenience store snacks more than once a week.
  • Sometimes eating when they’re not hungry, or not eating when they are hungry.
  • Not paying attention to what food they are eating, and whether or not it is “healthy” by some standard or definition, or whether or not it satisfies a particular craving or it just happens to taste good at the moment.
  • Not exercising regularly, and worse, not acknowledging the importance of regular exercise as a health imperative.
  • Believing it isn’t anyone’s business what they are eating, how much they are exercising, and what constitutes their family dinners. Not recognizing a social moral imperative attached to health.
  • Not believing in public health.

Again, these are stereotypes, listed to make a point and to paint a vivid picture. Most people don’t fall neatly into these kinds of categories, adopting some or the other behaviors and viewpoints.

However, according to these lists, I’m very staunchly in the “bad fatty” category.

Why I believe the FA movement needs more vocal “bad fatty revolutionaries”:

Simply put, because the Healthist arguments subdivide fat people into “less deviant” and “more deviant” subclasses. When engaging in Healthist behaviors or making Healthist arguments, you must understand that you’re playing the fat-loathers’ game. You’re buying into their rhetoric, and agreeing with them that wanting to be healthy is indeed a moral imperative, makes a person more or less fuckable, makes an individual more or less intelligent, and so forth.

That means every myth-busting argument you put forth — “But don’t you understand that fat isn’t necessarily unhealthy?” — is played out on their turf. And you know what they can do, what they often do, that takes the wind out of our sails and stops us dead in our tracks?

Say, “You’re lying,” to whatever facts we present. “I’ve got more evidence to back up my claims,” they say, thrusting forward mountains of epidemiological studies that we’ve already debunked, convinced of our bias. “Any doctor you ask will tell you that being fat is unhealthy,” they continue, appealing to authority. “You’re just looking for an excuse to be fat,” they conclude, convinced of our bias, inexpertise, and emotional instability.

My question to all FAers out there: Why are we playing their game in the first place?

We need to change the conversation away from health. Sure, we know we can myth-bust until we’re blue in the face, and the more rigorous, less publicized evidence is overwhelmingly in support of our claims. It doesn’t matter. This is the age of science-by-press-release. Facts and hard evidence don’t have a prayer.

We need to become bad fatty revolutionaries. Instead of apologizing for behaviors that are acceptable amongst thinner people but not fatter people, instead of playing into the stereotypes and showing them that you’re an active member of their world and still fat, reject their world. Reject the moral imperative of Healthism.

Healthism is nothing more than a system of status-determination based on appearance. “You can tell whether or not someone is high or low status (read: healthy) based on how fat or thin (read: unhealthy) they are.” It’s easy. You don’t even have to know someone to know what your and his/her respective statuses are, whether or not you’re “better” than him/her. All you have to do is look.

Healthist FAers — “good fatties” — play into that game, though they slightly change the definitions. You can’t tell by just looking, they claim. You need to ask them about their exercise and nutritional regimes, perhaps their BP and blood sugar numbers, first. Perhaps also their family history of disease. Then you can make that determination. But still, status and superiority are determined — by health!

The hard truth is that Healthism hasn’t done a damned thing for the movement. Since we are in the age of science by press release, it makes us look like a bunch of crazy hypocrites. We look like we’re espousing health at the same time we are, ourselves, espousing unhealth (by accepting fat). No wonder we’re not taken seriously.

It’s time we make them play on our turf, and reject the moral imperative of health. Here are the points I suggest should be stressed:

  • Our bodies, our business.
  • Our health is between us and our doctor.
  • The concern of family members and friends for our perceived health does more harm than good.
  • We’re adults. Stop treating us as if we have the emotional and mental capacity of five year-olds. We reject your disgusting condescension.
  • Our bodies, our business. You have no right to tell me what should or should not go in my mouth. You have no right to demand that I exercise.
  • Beauty standards change. What’s fuckable today might not be fuckable tomorrow. Using body size in leiu of “health” as an excuse to determine fuckability is as capricious as using skin color, hair color, height, country of origin, religion, favorite book, etc. It’s not hard-wired, it’s a cultural creation.
  • Discrimination against fat people is always hate. Any excuse to find a fat person inferior in any way due to their fatness is bigotry. And yes, this extends to attractiveness. It might not be your fault that you’re a bigot, but you still are.
  • Grow up. What we eat and how much we exercise does not make us a more or less worthwhile person. It is not a determinant of willpower, control, sexiness, intelligence, hygeine, parental fortitude, femininity, masculinity, bravery, and so forth.
  • Our bodies, our business. Our health is between us and our doctors and yes, sometimes doctors are wrong, too. We must always be vigiliant that their techniques do more good than harm, because doctors are people, too. They can be bigots. They can make mistakes. Being informed patients is never, ever a bad thing. If we are wrong, they are free to explain to us why, or to refer us to sources so that we better understand why. Our bodies, our business. Our health, our and our doctor’s business.
  • The Obesity Epidemic is a moral panic, and the War on Obesity is a moral crusade. The torch-carriers are Healthists. Their weapons are science by press release, and the belief in the moral imperative of health.

Change the dialogue. Give up on Healthist rhetoric – it does the movement more harm than good. Make health a private matter. Don’t apologize for being fat, or qualify your status by explaining how you’re still a “good person” because you buy into the edicts of Healthism.

Our bodies, our business.

Our health, between us and our doctor, and we have a duty to be informed patients and challenge our doctors who are themselves people and therefore fallible.

Science by press release has taken facts out of the public dialogue, which ultimately dooms fat-accepting Healthist arguments.

Our bodies, our business.

We’re adults. I reject your condescension, your attempts to infantilize me which are directly connected to your desire to gain as much status over me as possible.

Healthism is a class system. It creates deviant classes which the superior classes are free to treat as subhuman and worthless. Reject Healthism. It is ultimately incompatible with fat acceptance, since it forces Healthist fat people to reject un-Healthist fat people, which is no acceptance at all.

Food Ethicism or, The Cult of the Salad

Almost everyone believes there are such things as “good” and “bad” foods. The notion is inculcated within us from a very young age, and right now various agencies are pushing to make the notion of food ethics formally taught in schools.

The problem with food ethicism is, of course, that it has no real definition. Some believe raw foods are the only “good” foods, some believe fats and sugars are “bad,” others believe carbs are “bad,” some believe high-calorie foods are “bad,” some believe only whole-wheat, fruits, and vegetables are “good.”

Food ethicism is pervasive and, like other ethical systems, defines moral worth or immorality based on how close one adheres to the ethical dictates, or how far one strays from those same dictates. In other words, if you eat “bad” foods, you are a bad person, or at the very least, morally bereft.

Putting aside food ethicism which corresponds to non-health-related values (like animal rights, for instance), most food ethicism judges “good” foods at how closely they help you achieve a socially acceptable weight. The best food, almost bar-none, is the green vegetable. Anti-calorie, anti-carbs, anti-fat, anti-sugar, anti-salt, and anti-processed ethicists are delighted by the green vegetable. Salads are the composition of the green vegetable, in which it prevails, sprinkled with non-green vegetables, and also possibly meat, carbs, and dairy (in heavy moderation).

The cult of the salad has reigned supreme since Day One of the War Against Obese People. When eating out with others, ordering a salad — the more green, the fewer condiment/meat/dairy/carbs is viewed almost universally as a sign of dietary “goodness.” Of course, one cannot live on salads alone. Which is the food ethicists’ great dilemma, across the board. Salads — in their purest form — are extremely low energy, and give you far less nutrition than you’d get popping a multivite.

Salads are, in their purest form, merely hunger-curbers. I.e., accessories to starvation.

So I’ll take liberty to define “eating junk food” as how far one has strayed from adherence to the Cult of the Salad.

BeingGirl: For girls, by liars

This morning, Harriet Brown had a wonderful post to which I felt compelled to respond upon a bit more digging.

“BeingGirl: For girls, by girls,” a site hosted by Proctor & Gamble, is one of those places that draws in teenage girls with cutesy graphics and shitty writing (by the staff), and better writing which populates the rest of the site (posts by the girls themselves). Some of the posts are heartbreaking, and the articles themselves (esp. the ones concerning weight) are filled with virulent lies, and ‘methods’ of weight-reduction which read like a pro-ana site.

What dangerous nonsense…I hope my teenage, computer-literate, soon-to-be step-daughters haven’t ever stumbled into that den of lies.

Here’s a quote from the “Express Yourself — Creative Expressions” part of the site:

All that I can think about are the calories in that food

All that I can think about are the calories in that food Constantly counting and adding to make sure I don’t eat too much I know that it is bad to diet, but being thin makes me feel good That feeling of the fat on my stomach is annoying to touch So 900 calories a day is all that I can allow People tell me how much weight I’ve lost, but I just don’t see it I’m scared to eat more than that I don’t want the weight, not now People saying “Eat more, eat more” makes me just stare at it and sit Yes, food, food, everywhere, but I’m scared to eat it up You want to help me Well, I’m way beyond help I’m lost…

It was given 1046 positive “votes,” which means that resonates with at least that many girls on the site (the ones that bother to vote, anyway). It looks like the average number of positive votes is about 1000, from what I can see.This one, lower on the list, makes me feel very good, however:

Being Me

I have always struggled with weight issues and until recently I have
never really accepted myself. I always had self esteem issues and
would hide behind a facade of friendly compliments to other people and
big clothes. I figured out that I really needed to accept myself, so I
really stepped back and looked at my choices. Not just my eating and
exercising habits, but also my dressing and grooming habits. Going out
and buying that dress that I have always wanted but never felt I could
pull off.

I found that by stepping outside my safety zone I found more
confidence in myself and began to accept me for who and what I am.
I have found myself actually pursuing romantic endeavors I had never even dreamed of before.

I just wanted to let anyone who is having self esteem issues know that if you can step outside of your safety zone, as hard as it can be, you can
truly make a difference in your life. It has in mine.

But this post only got 422 positive votes, compared to the negative body image’s post of 1024. 😦

These article writers (not the open-forum posts by regular girls like the ones quoted above) seem like they’re ALL nasty liars. Here’s another quote, from “Teenage Girls Fear of Fatness”

You would think from the words Carrie uses…guilty, bad, cheating, hate…that she was talking about something more immoral or harmful than snacking on potato chips. You would think she was worried about the osteoporosis, anemia, obesity and cardiovascular disease that might be made worse by eating certain foods [emphasis mine]

Anemia? Christ, that’s a new one. Where the hell are they getting this garbage, anyway? Or is it just “known” that OMG FOOD!1! is a toxic substance that causes diseases, and we need to try so hard to find the ‘wisdom’ to abstain from it?

The rest of the article is filled with confused contradictions, at one moment claiming rightly that body image is horribly skewed in the teenage girl population, then wondering “what causes” this when their own site is replete with panic-mongering bullshit, ending with :

Learn to see yourself through your grandma’s eyes not that distorted mirror you rely on. There’s no need to eliminate any food you enjoy from your diet. Just learn to make trade offs and balance unhealthy foods with healthy ones. And keep on the move. The safest and most appropriate obesity prevention strategy is to get rid of those “automobile feet” and exercise.

And when they don’t “prevent obesity” that way (exercise has been shown to be a largely ineffective way to lose weight, though it’s very effective in increasing health), what then? How are they going to feel? Like they need to start ritualizing food, just like they thought? That they aren’t good enough, and the answer is just to exercise ‘more’?

I could go on and on with this site. Instead, I’m just going to end with a few gems that you can discuss (and, of course, feel free to go to the site as well):

The Runaway Eating Epidemic

A recent study by the National Longitudinal Study for Adolescent Health revealed that in the five years between 1996 and 2001, about two million teens joined the ranks of the clinically obese!

Uh, yes, revising standards downwards in order to label more people obese (in 1997 or 1998, I forget) is going to make the ‘ranks of the clinically obese’ go up (don’t you love how ‘clinically’ obese makes it sounds so uber-scary and real, even though it’s an arbitrary number based on the bullshit skewing and misemphasizing of the Nurse’s Study’s statistics?)

Dieting Myths

This article “debunks” dieting myths—and also let’s you know which ones are “true”! The poll questions are the standard stuff, but one of them asks:

To keep weight off, you should take off how much a week?
1. at most 5 pounds
2. at most 2 pounds
3. at most 6 pounds
4. at most 4 pounds

The real answer, of course, is “at most 0 pounds.” “Taking off” weight doesn’t work for the vast majority of dieters, and to expect that one can “take off” some magic perfect number a week and “keep” it off is dangerously fallacious. To suggest to teenage girls that permanent weight loss is achievable in any fashion as long as they do it the ‘right way’ is abominable, and goes against the preponderance of evidence.

Fitness and Diet

This one is confusing, filled with dangerous contradictions:

When Should You Diet?

Unfortunately, women today are often pressured to measure up to a certain body type so they “diet’ to achieve that goal. But there are many body types and some people might have bigger shapes just because they’re built that way.

Just think of it in nature. Some cats are naturally skinny, some are husky, and some are heavier. Different builds and body types in animal are natural. And it’s the same with people. Each person has an ideal, individual weight range where they are still healthy. That range could be higher or lower, depending on the person. So just because you don’t look like the skinny actress on the cover of an entertainment magazine, don’t worry. And don’t go crazy dieting.

Sometimes going on a diet can really help you — if you’re overweight and need to lose pounds, for example. More than 1 of every 3 American adults is considered to have an unhealthy weight. Because of these excess pounds, they are more susceptible to disease. So being very overweight can be unhealthy, and is a good reason to “diet.” [emphases mine]

Huh?? One moment we’re all “different,” the next minute overweight is unhealthy and should be dieted off??? I don’t have the energy for this last one. Please tear into it for me.

My to-be stepdaughters shall be warned away from this site.

Edited to correct typos and provide emphases.