Despite the hype about the obesity epidemic, I think just as many people's lives are being blighted by slow starvation. Starvation in the form of dieting.
One of the classic signs of starvation is a lack of interest in sex. One of the men who participated in the Minnesota Starvation Study said, after seeing a movie, he didn't remember much about the scenes that involved kissing and making out, but he was intensely fascinated with the cooking scene.
A recent study (done by Weight Watchers, which makes the results just a tad suspect, nor was it published in a peer-reviewed journal) found that
58 per cent of women surveyed think about sex at least 10 times a day, some 70 per cent admitted having far more regular fantasies about food. According to the research nearly two thirds of UK women are dissatisfied with their size and 53 per cent of those who took part in the survey admitted to thinking about their weight up to 10 times a day.
To me, this doesn't signify women obsessed with their weight. It signifies women who are starving themselves because they think it will improve their health (it won't) or because of social pressures. And those women with the requisite prewiring are at high risk for developing an eating disorder.
The absurdity of Weight Watchers is highlighted in their claim that 11:30 am on a Tuesday is the best time to start a diet. It reminds me of the 17th century claim by Archbishop James Ussher that the world was created at 8:03pm on Sunday, October 23, 4004 BCE. Nice to know clocks were created before the heavens and the earth.
But the worst thing about all of this- not just the time and money wasted, and the lives blighted and ended- is that it's all socially sanctioned. Nowhere in the story did anyone imply that maybe women are obsessed with food because they're not eating enough. Trust me- dieting isn't the solution to that. I hid behind this facade for years. I was just dieting. Just being healthy. Just watching my weight. How many times have you heard women utter these same words?
And I can't help but get sad and frustrated when I realize that things are probably only going to get worse.