We’ve been receiving lots of diet books for the Size Diversity Task Force’s project to create a Guinness World Record paper mache sculpture. As we’ve been sorting books and counting pages I realized that I haven’t read a diet book in quite a while and in that time I forgot about the endless promises of “A New Me” and “A Perfect Me.”
I remember when I used to buy into that. My pursuit of thin was, at many times, based on these promises – every new weight loss attempt was the start of a “new me” on the way to being the “perfect me.”
Now that I’m removed from this it’s hard to believe that I bought into it. But then it seemed so natural to allow someone to sell me a product based on the idea that who I was needed to be changed – that I needed a new me. As my friend CJ Legare says, I let them take my self-esteem, cheapen it, and sell it back to me at a profit. Except their destined-for-failure product meant that I would have a hard time holding on even to my newly cheapened self-esteem.
Then there was the idea that being thinner would make me perfect – there was a time when I believed that this was true. That being skinny would mean that all my problems would go away, I wouldn’t have any more bad hair days, and I’d stop leaving cupboard doors open. So I wasn’t just waiting for another body to come along, I was waiting for the solution to everything to come along with my new body.
The diet industry has been very clever about its marketing – it’s pretty difficult to make more and more money with a product that almost never works without some very good marketing. The diet industry is happy to tell us anything we want to hear no matter how completely far-fetched. They say that being thin will make us new, perfect, practically immortally healthy. And then they tell us that their product will make us thin. Each claim is more ridiculous with less of an evidence basis than the last.
When I think of what we could do with the $60,000,000,000 that we give this industry every year in exchange for lying to us about anything and everything it makes me frustrated, but it also makes me hopeful. Sooner or later the world is going to call the diet industry on the fraud that they’ve committed and then we can start having actual evidence-based conversations about health, happiness, and how awesome the current, non-perfect us actually is.
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