Tuesday, June 23, 2009

[policing the body] "uncontrollable appetites" (fat, food)

Last Wednesday (June 17) GMA had MeMe Roth on (whom I had read about the other day via the Notes from the Fatosphere feed). (BigLibertyBlog also blogged about the GMA piece.)

I think even if I hadn't been prepped at all, I still would have been a bit "huh?" at the ridiculously softball nature of the interview. Yes, you don't want junk food to even be an option at "in loco parentis" places, I understand the logic behind that. But what sort of twisted logic is, "So that the kids aren't doing nothing while everyone else is chowing down on junk food, they can pull out a plastic container and put the junk food in that and bring it home and we'll discuss whether they're allowed to have it maybe after their piano lesson or something"? One commenter said, "if MeMe doesn’t want her children to have cupcakes, donuts, and juice pops, she could always just instruct them to politely refuse the treats. There were kids at my elementary school who were taught to do that because of allergies, religious dietary requirements, and parents who had strong beliefs about what foods were good and bad for them, and aside from a question here and a pitying look there, it wasn’t a big deal."

And wtf "Show me an American who understands moderation?" Seriously? We should ban junk food from everyone's presence because no one is capable of consuming in moderation? (And how the eff did obesity rob her mother and grandmother of "their health, and their hope, and their aspirations"?)

And, um, you told the YMCA that if they didn't get some food out in addition to the ice cream buffet in the next hour you were going to start throwing food out? No wonder the cops got called.

A friend of mine sent me this article on MeMe Roth. From the end:
When I ask her if she's ever been anorexic, she gasps: "No! I've never even been on a diet!" So I ask her what she eats in an average day. On this, Roth is reticent. She now runs a private nutrition counselling business, she says, and because of that, "I don't spend a ton of time telling people what I do personally. What works for me may not work for other people."

That's fine, I say, but just as an example?

"I eat beans like nobody's business," she says hurriedly. "I eat more black beans than anyone else I know."

I try to pin her down to something more specific. Let's just do a sample day, I say. What about breakfast? Roth grimaces. "I hate to say this, because I think it's counter to what most people should do, but I never in my whole life have enjoyed breakfast. For me, it doesn't work as well as other things."

Right, I say. So how about lunch?

She squirms visibly. "You're taking me where I don't want to go ... What works for me doesn't work for a lot of people."

Well, you've said that, I insist, so taking that into account: lunch? Roth hesitates. "I discovered when I was in college that I work best when I get a workout in and eat after that. Sometimes I'll delay when I eat until I get a workout in. But I don't let a whole day go by without running four miles."

OK, I go on, but supposing you couldn't work out until four o'clock in the afternoon - would you not eat until after that?

"I might."

I look at my watch. It's 3.30pm. Alarm bells start to ring in my head. How about today, I ask. Have you eaten at all today?

Roth is a little quiet.

"No," she says.

There is a pause.

"But I feel great!"

That same day, Sweet Machine complained about the obsessive attention to what President Obama eats. She wrote:
Maybe the very reason that Obama can sometimes just pick at his fries instead of shoving them into the presidential gullet is that he knows he can have fries another day if he likes. The man is the president of the United States, after all. Do we really want him to obsess over whether he should order his salad dressing on the side?

I know that this isn’t the first time that a President’s gustatory preferences have been drummed up into a national incident, but this idea that people will eat themselves fat because the Obamas ate fish and chips—while in London!—is only possible in a culture where we are so deeply alienated from our own bodies that we cannot be trusted to use food. Are you insulted? I sure as hell am.

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