The Birth of Athena

lift the weight. fight the power. eat the candy.

Riots Not Diets

A few months ago, I wrote about why I don’t diet (anymore). In that piece, I delved into why, on a personal level, I have given up trying to be leaner, thinner, more svelte, etc. I feel freer and happier. I am able to enjoy food and friends and life events without worrying about my body. It has also freed up a lot mental capacity and my time to do and care about other things. I am not saying that it was easy or is easy to continue to do such a thing, a thing where you actively ignore the socialized impulses that impregnate your brain with the idea that even though you are at a healthy weight, it is not good enough. It is not easy to ignore ideas that our culture has force fed us since we were infants. It is not easy to act against a lot of what our culture tells us is necessary and good.

But here is the thing – dieting is not necessary and it is not good. In fact, I believe that it actively keeps us from actually doing things that are necessary and good (again, like in my previous article, I am not speaking to those who may have a medical need to lose weight. I am speaking to people who are at a healthy weight and have no medical issues that would be helped by losing weight). I believe the importance of quitting dieting extends beyond the self.

dieting

Now, there are people who believe that dieting is just a necessary means to an end – a better version of themselves. I understand this mentality. I used to believe this mentality. I wanted to be the best version of myself. But tell me, if we are already healthy, why is it that we believe that being leaner/thinner is the best version of us? If we are already healthy and active, why is it that we are focusing our mental energies on counting calories eaten and counting calories expelled? Why are we not out using our energy on becoming more well-rounded people? Why are we not learning new languages, picking up a new hobby, volunteering, or advocating? Why do we feel so compelled to spend an overwhelming time on our appearance instead of what we are capable of?

I think the answer is fairly simple – our culture and those in charge of our culture demand it of us. If you have read my blog before or follow me across multiple social platforms, I am sure you have seen me quote Naomi Wolf before: “A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.” When we are focused on our failures as people, that is the failure to be the thinnest, and thus, the best, when we are focused on losing those last 5 lbs forever, when we are focused on taming our saddlebags, we aren’t focused on the world around us. Yeah, sure, we read the news, weekly, even daily. We hear the bad news and we grieve about the state of the world around us. But how many of us act upon it? How many of us petition our lawmakers and communities for change? Very few of us? Our politicians and our media depend on us not caring enough – because we are so consumed with other (easily predicted thoughts), we will never care enough to advocate for a better life for ourselves and our children.

news

Now, before you go off about how I am paranoid, blah,blah, blah (nothing I haven’t heard before), I would like to throw some statistics at you

  • 75% of American women surveyed endorse unhealthy thoughts, feelings or behaviors related to food or their bodies (Source: Three Out Of Four American Women Have Disordered Eating, Survey Suggests, Science News, Retrieved July 18, 2011, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080422202514.htm)

  • 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting (Source: Information obtained from the National Association of Eating Disorders, Retrieved July 18, 2011, from www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/index.php)

  • Almost half of American children between 1st – 3rd grade want to be thinner and half of 9 – 10 year old girls are dieting (Source: Rate of Eating Disorders in Kids Keeps Rising, US Department of Health and Human Services, Retrieved July 18, 2011, from http://www.healthfinder.gov/news/newsstory.aspx?docID=646574)

  • The “obesity industry” (commercial weight-loss programs, weight-loss drug manufacturers and bariatric surgery centers) will likely top $315 billion this year. (Source: “The War On Obesity” was declared on American soil by former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in 1996. Big Fat Facts Blog, Retrieved July 18, 2011, from http://www.bigfatfacts.com/)

  • Childhood obesity has tripled since the ‘80s when America first called out its “War Against Obesity” (Source: Childhood Obesity, US Department of Health and Human Services, Retrieved July 18, 2011, from (http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/child_obesity/) .

We have an epidemic on our hands. Our obsession with being thinner isn’t actually making us thinner or healthier. It is making us more predictable, more malleable. If those in charge know what we are afraid of (being fat, ugly, ostracized), they can predict where we will spend our money.

Why are we so afraid of being fat and ugly? Because “’Beauty’ is a currency system like the gold standard.” (Naomi Wolf). Money, quite simply, is power. And when we spend our money on looking like our “best selves” we aren’t spending it on other, more important thing. And honestly, unlike the 1%, most of us don’t have enough money. Let’s take a look at some more statistics.

  • 1 in 50 households carry more than $20,000 in credit card debt.

  • Roughly 2 – 2.5 million Americans seek the help of a credit counselor each year to avoid bankruptcy.

  • The total amount of consumer debt in the US is nearly $2.4 trillion in 2010. That’s $7,800 debt per person. (Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/alarming-us-consumer-debt-statistics-2011-5)

And if we keep focused on our individual flaws and how we have cellulite and pinchible fat, we most certainly don’t have time to think or act in ways that help to fix society’s problems. Let’s look at some more numbers:

  • In 2010, 15.1 percent of all persons lived in poverty.

  • Number of homeless in the U.S.: 1,750,000

  • Average monthly income of a homeless individual: $348

  • Percent of homeless that did paid work during the last month: 44% (Source: http://www.statisticbrain.com/homelessness-stats/)

  • Percent of women who experience attempted or completed rape: 16%

  • Percent of rapes never reported to authorities: 60% (Source: http://www.statisticbrain.com/rape-statistics/)

  • In the United States 37.5% of people cannot afford their mortgage (Source: http://www.statisticbrain.com/percent-of-americans-who-cant-afford-their-morgage/)

Those numbers are just beginning to graze the surface about all of the things wrong with our society, our culture. Everything is a mess. And yet, we have the same types of numbnuts, who come from the same types of families, who went to the same types of school, who have family wealth from the same types of businesses, and who PROFIT from the general person’s failures, in charge of our nations and in charge of our futures.

So, in response, I am advocating for change. I want us to focus less on our personal failures and shortcomings. I want us to throw our beauty magazines and diet supplements and food scales out the fucking window. And I want us to tune in to the world around us. I want us to advocate for the rights and well-being of ourselves and of others. I want us to demand more of our world leaders. I want us to take care of one another.

Our world is sick. We are not. I think it is time to riot, not diet.

riots not diets

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