These shoes were made for voting

Even Capitol Hill, it seems, has to get in on the fun. The offices of many of our illustrious senators and representatives have decided to compete in the "WalkingWorks Capitol Hill Challenge." The event, detailed in the New York Times, is sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield (the little buggers who give me such trouble over providing eating disorders coverage), who gave staffers $4.99 pedometers to wear each day. I was happily informed that because these little gizmos were under $50, they weren't considered gifts under Congressional law. Corporate sponsorship appears to be just ducky, however. The senators, representatives, and their staffs would form teams to see who could walk the most each day.

Not that I have any desire to work in politics at all, but this isn't helping. That I've gotten to experience a "wellness competition" up close and personal makes it even worse.

Because of course when the economy's in the toilet, we're embroiled in two wars we can't win, the price of gas is over $4/gallon, and we're trying to elect a new president, we all want people focusing on how many steps they take each day.

Sounds reasonable to me.

The phenomenon to compete for wellness (when Type A personalities have been associated with increased risk for heart attacks, however dubiously) is ironic enough. However, what is really ironic is the importance of image for people running for (re)election.

For the most part, Washington, unlike New York or Los Angeles, has never met a fitness craze it couldn’t ignore. William Howard Taft weighed over 300 pounds and got stuck in a bathtub, and Bill Clinton loved to eat at McDonald’s. Senator Barack Obama’s preoccupation with diet and exercise makes him a rarity in presidential politics. People here are more likely to know delegate percentages than body fat percentages.

And you're saying this like it's a bad thing?

Later in the article:

Most of the politicians leading the contest are like Ms. Hutchison: in shape and active. But svelte politicians do not have a long history in Washington.

“In the late 19th and early 20th century, politicians tended to be big,” said Donald A. Ritchie, the associate Senate historian. “That was the stereotype and that was the editorial cartoon imagine of what a senator was like, and until World War II that was fairly true.”

“Now,” he added, “fit and trim is the image senators want.”

So let me just be clear. You're not trying to be healthy. You're trying to portray an image. It's not about health, it's about looks. It's about winning. Let's stop kidding ourselves.

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2 comments:

Juliet said...

Just look at Mike Huckabee... would the former governor of a state most consider "red neck" have gotten so far in the race for president had he still weighed in at 300 or so pounds?

Oy. I can't believe the whole thing with pedometers. Because Congress isn't already inefficient enough???

Not to mention... do we want to get them more involved in people's weight? The government already tries to dictate what's a healthy weight based on some arbitrary chart. What's next? Mandated weigh ins? Higher taxes if you're BMI isn't "normal?" Big Brother is using pedometers... hopefully, they're too busy counting steps to watch our waistlines.

carrie said...

Juliet,

Actually what I just realized is that might be *why* Huckabee lost the weight: so he would have a chance. Health my foot. He wanted to run for president.

I'm surprised my inner cynic didn't catch that one. Maybe he was too busy looking for a pedometer...

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote



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