The Fat Fights - Part 1 - The Straight Skinny
The U.S. FDA banned ephedra diet supplements and it only took 16,000 adverse incidence reports and 155 deaths before they made up their minds. The diet industry is almost as powerful as Bechtel but they had a feeling this was coming so they’ve been loudly promoting Ephedra-Free products. Now, it’s business as usual, raking in the cash and looking for the next big money maker.
Americans are obsessed with weight, their own and everybody else’s. Strangers might criticize us if we bite into a slice of apple pie. They might feel their unsolicited opinions are enlightened and even required but they’re not, they’re just rude. In our current culture, love of munchies is the root of all evil and fast food is the new tobacco, sought and scorned at the same time. We love our eats but we aren’t so fond of fat folks, who could be us already or with a few more bites.
Some airlines are just too cheap to widen seats even though that would make anyone, especially those struggling to hold infants and toddlers, more comfortable on long flights. They’ve decided to charge us by weight, instead. Folks they size up as oversized might be charged for two seats - not just the one they occupy but the one next to it. Our flight neighbors’ carry-on luggage may get in our way but that doesn’t rate the same critical attention or increased cost.
By today's Hollywoodized standards, physical attractiveness is considered the realm of the slim and tightly toned so we may feel apologetic for not fitting the sought after standard and punished for our presumed failure. For decades, comely clothes only came in stylish sizes and larger women had a choice of tent dresses, maternity styled blouses and elastic waisted pants. Polyester stretched at the seams and, male or female, our wardrobe options still shrink as our bodies grow.
We’re helped and hindered at the same time. Restaurants serve super-sized meals with free butter and breadsticks, while advertising encourages us to fill up on meats, dairy products, snacks and desserts. Many of these foods create inflammation which causes swelling and adds on fat. Then, to lose the lovehandles, we’re urged to buy diet pills and other dubious weight-loss products. Mirrored in others’ judgmental eyes, we may buy in, swallowing poisonous attitudes and problematic potions, along with the exaggerated sales hype.
With fast food cast as society’s latest villain, folks who gain weight are often considered weak-willed, self-indulgent eating machines. In truth, there are many other possible factors that carry considerable heft. Our heredity, ethnicity, genetics, lifestyle and our health can each have as heavy an impact as crates of chocolate chip cookies.
Many folks, too fortunate to know better, don’t realize that illnesses including cancer, fibromyalgia and lupus can cause our bodies to swell considerably. Medications such as steroids are often prescribed for these diseases and those drugs swell us up like yeasty, rising dough. Bouts of chemotherapy used to fight lupus and cancer can pare us to the bone or round us out.
Eating disorders aren’t so easy to identify as some might imagine and are often misunderstood. Those of us who eat less than our bodies need may be plump because our metabolisms have tilted due to malnourishment. Diseases like lupus, celiac or cancer may cause many food allergies or sensitivities and severe nausea. As a result, people may lose their appetites but plump up or be constantly hungry but bone-thin. Fat or skinny, we don’t always get there on purpose.
We can winnow down and blow up, swinging back and forth like yo-yos, without any change in our diets. I’ve been the same person, with the same personality and character, no matter what I weighed and it works that way for everybody I know. Still, some of those who haven’t been through it and even some who have, will judge others by their appearance – maybe because it’s easier than exercising their own mental muscles.
I remember when American women’s sizes 10-12 were considered medium and sizes 6-8 were small. Now, size 4 is the tiny trend, a 2 is truly chic and size 0 is the pattern of perfection. In only one generation, our clothing standards shrank by at least two whole sizes. Nowadays, a woman isn’t in vogue unless she’s a handy-dandy letter opener, too. To fit into the next new clothing size, we may have to become invisible.
A woman’s got to be as sleek as a platinum credit card, to be elegant in modern times. She’s got to be as versatile as a Swiss Army Knife and substitute as a clothes hanger in case we’ve locked ourselves out of our cars. It’d break Joan Crawford’s heart - not only are wire hangers proliferating, they are human. Nowadays, fashion is to die for but we can always bulk up with implants, for curves to accent our sharp-edged bones.
Men with "beer bellies" may be mocked, whether they got them by drinking or disease but 6-pack abs are ardently admired. It seems almost more desirable to swallow the cans whole and still ringed together, for that hard, round set of belly bulges. Those tight looking abdominal muscles might develop from dedicated work-outs or dangerous illegal steroid use which may also shrivel sexual organs and injure brain cells but, who cares, when appearances are everything.
A drug, a diet, a finger down the throat – whatever it takes to be svelte is sweet, no matter the danger to our health, when substance is suspect. The fat fights are worth the lives damaged or destroyed since our funeral shrouds will drape so beautifully over our bones. Baloney – and pass the sour pickles – real men, women and children eat, if they’re lucky. Bulimia and anorexia are deadly diseases, not healthy diet programs. Catch a clue from the coffins.
Moviemakers and fashion houses are in the fantasy biz but their obsession with an unnatural appearance has altered our cultural perceptions. When we judge ourselves by such superficial standards, our ambitions teeter precariously between being healthy and being fashionably thin. Few who actually eat can reach this unholy grail but some will die trying.
Celebrities with personal athletic trainers, cosmetic surgeons, Botox docs, nannies, cooks and housekeepers swear the products they endorse made them gorgeous. In the US, famous folk must at least appear to use the goods and services they promote or, when fantasy and fiction collide, they might be upstaged by a judge in a real courtroom. Fat chance. As singer-actress Whitney Houston once said, rich people don’t do crack. Products promoting dietary delusions are the crack of the diet dream industry.
Alice tumbled onto pills that made her larger or smaller at will but this isn’t Wonderland. It’s the Land of Milk and Money, where cash cows are drained of moola and fat cats lap up all the cream. Snake oil salesmen live on Billionaire Row, sitting pretty up on Pill Hill and it’s folks like us who put them there.
Hucksters in Armani suits eat high off the hog because the suckers being born every minute are so eager for elegant bones. We only want to squeeze into our regular clothes and our usual faces but we get sucker punched with the rest, while charlatans party hearty on our tab.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast and brings out the beast in the greedy. Miracle drugs aren’t sold over WalMart counters or on the Internet and every product prettily pitched is not necessarily aimed to please anyone but the promoter. Some dogs wag but they still bite – please, don’t take them all at their word.
Pretty is as pretty does, so the old saying goes and looking like a million bucks may cost nearly that much, in these shallow times. When we were kids, our elders often told us, character counts but it’s losing the competition to cuteness. Why be smart when you can be smart-looking instead, in cutting-edge styles, with a few surgical procedures?
Think about it - would you rather have friends who glow in the dark or friendships that glow in your heart? Is it better to look like a Hollywood star or to be celebrated by those you love? How do you define your own value and what do you value most in others – as Judge Judy says, pretty fades but stupid is forever – and death is eternal. We’ve got to eat wisely and well to live.
Don’t let others define reality for you. Shape your life to fit who you really are and all you want to be. We need not starve ourselves or pop dangerous pills to look and feel better.
Please check out The Fat Fights – Part 2 -The Wolf Weighs In in Lupus NewsLog’s Articles With Attitude. Read about the so-called "obesity epidemic" in Obesity and The American Healthcare Shell Game.
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