Monday, September 21, 2009

Weight of social expectations

We don't get the paper but last week when I was visiting my parents, I had a skim through theirs. Here's one of the feature articles in the Adelaide Advertiser that day.


I'd seen something about that finding on TV during the week too. You know, the sort of thing that tries to shame tubby people by showing their stomachs hanging over their belts as they walk down the street. The newspaper write-up was just a follow-up on that. I'm sure we've all read and seen lots like it. Anybody who doesn't watch their weight should be ashamed of themselves. How could you possibly let yourself get like that? It's more than just a health risk. It's a bad example to the younger generations. People like you should make an effort to get trim because you are a blot on our society.

My question is how come our society gets off scot-free? Our society makes it easy for people to gain a few pounds or kilos in a twinkle. We walk into supermarkets and there are gorgeous towers of Tim Tam biscuits and Mint Slices and Pascal's marshmallows gleaming beautifully at the end of every aisle. There are chocolate advertisements as soon as you leave the car-park and step on the escalator into the shopping centre. There are people cooking samples of wonderful shaker pancakes or chocolate mousses or Nanna's apple pies waiting to pounce on us with their little paper sample plates and plastic spoons, saying, "This is so easy to mix up, and it's on special!" Our society's message seems to be, "You've had a long day, you deserve to relax tonight. Just grab a packet of bite sized Mars Bars to nibble while you read." Our society doesn't behave like one which is concerned about its peoples' health. It behaves more like one which runs on supply and demand, economic greed, give people what they want. Our society encourages us to socialize with friends over cake and coffee.

You might argue, "Society is doing its bit! Look at the thousands of fitness clubs out there for proof." But have you considered that the fitness clubs are happy when people over-indulge in all the tasty, unhealthy food society has to offer? That's when people come and use their services. If most people were trim, taut and terrific, then it'd be a worry for the fitness clubs.

If our society was really serious about helping people lose weight and get healthy, it would urge entrepreneurs to set up alternative supermarkets for weight watchers. They'd be supermarkets that don't stock junk food, or else keep them low on the shelves and not in people's faces.

I'm speaking as a person who's experienced both sides of the weight spectrum. I know what it's like to be anorexic with hair falling out and icy cold hands and feet at all times, and I also know what it's like to have a bit of a muffin top and want to lose a few kilos. At the time, I took full responsibility for being foolish enough to get myself so unreasonably skinny. I've also taken the blame upon myself to let the kilos creep around my waist practically overnight. But perhaps that blame shouldn't be entirely mine. Some of it must go to society; yes, that same society that claims to be encouraging us to be healthy. My point is just to point out how sick I am of our society that enables and even encourages us to indulge, and then shovels the blame entirely on us individuals when we don't look exactly that way it would like us to.


  1. No kidding! And why do foods that are good for you have to cost SO MUCH MORE than junk food? It's so difficult to afford to feed my kids a healthy and satisfying meal. It's like society wants poor and struggling middle class families to be unhealthy and die young. (Those folks can't afford gyms and dieticians.)

    Let's just say that your blog entry gave me a lot of "food for thought." (Sorry; I couldn't help myself.) Have a great week!

  2. Totally agree with you Paula and Mama!!

  3. I agtee with Mama, in the fact that it is so much cheaper to eat unhealthy than healthy. But what will my body be doing for me when I am in my 60's, 70's and 80's when these obese, morbidly obese and super morbidly obese people(and I know a few folks who fall into this category) still swear that the new McDonald's Angus beef burger is quality food. Quality and McDonald's should never be in the same sentence.

    I plan on being like Jack Lalane, Jay Kordich and the likes. I know what real food is and choose not to fall prey to the crap advertisers want to sell us.

    And to go a step further, I will even say that doctors and pharmecuticals(sp?) do not want us to get healthy either. For if we did get better they would lose what..oh yeah, a customer. We are no longer patients to them, we are just a dollar figure.

    We try, in this house to not take medications. I know they have a place, I am not that whacko. But when my husband does get sick, the first thing my mother-in-law says to my husband is, "Can't the doctor give you a pill?" And that is the mentality of so many people. They have been fed false information so someone can make a profit. And that turns us back to the food industry as well.

    I beleive they make foods so addicting with their salts and sugars that folks find it near impossible to stop eating them and don't get me started on list of ingredients.

    Thanks for letting me rant Apple. Hope all is weel across the other side of the world.