From Mayor Bloomberg’s large-sized soda ban and a myriad of other culinary commandments, to burgeoning student protests about their school lunch fare, there appears to be a food fight brewing that could rival John Belushi in National Lampoon’s Animal House.
The ever-changing controversy about what is and is not healthy for us to consume is not unusual. What is disturbing here, is that some people whom I refer to as FYOGs (For Your Own Gooders, pronounced Fahye-Ogs) have appointed themselves lord and master over the rest of us and over our appetites.
Who gave them this jurisdiction some of us would like to know? Was it written in the Constitution? “Thou shalt have the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and control over what other people eat ?” Or was it when the hysteria over the “obesity epidemic” caused some to take leave of their senses and tolerate intrusion into their lives and stomachs, the likes of which we’ve never seen?
Either way, kids seem to understand the fundamental boundary that has been crossed when FYOGs mess with their munchees. In Wisconsin, students staged a strike out of hunger and frustration, as seen in JS Online. Wallace County High School in Sharon Springs, Kansas, created a YouTube video, “We Are Hungry,” pointing out the absurdity of grossly applied calorie guidelines. In New Bedford, Massachusetts there’s a new appetite and a black market for chocolate syrup.
This troubling trend puts some very serious issues on the menu. If anyone, whether fat or thin, young or old, is willing to tolerate dictums from self-appointed food dictators, will they ever learn to be in command of their own appetites? And even if they don’t make the choices we might make, are we willing to cross the line that may well lead to a nationwide FATLASH?
This week, The Atlantic praised Mayor Michael Bloomberg as one of the “brave thinkers” of 2012.
Is it bravery which leads a politician to anoint himself emperor and captain of the food police merely by virtue of having been elected mayor of New York City? Will the mayor of Philadelphia next be anointing himself captain of the fashion police?
Napoleon crowned himself emperor too. Maybe we’ll have a new pastry in a few hundred years called the “Bloomberg.” I have a feeling this Bloomberg would ban that too –but those are trans fats for another blog post.
While it’s encouraging to know that the Mayor’s hubris is largely unpopular, I keep wondering how any freedom-loving American could support a politician, City Council or other, who believes they can with force, dictate to those over the age of consent, how much soda, salt or “trans fats” they are allowed to consume. (It doesn’t work with children either, as FATLASH attempts to illustrate.)
After several conversations with people who see nothing wrong with allowing the government’s bloated belly to keep expanding, I had an epiphany:
Those I spoke with don’t think they need laws to control their diet. They think other people do. The campaign of hysteria over the “obesity epidemic” has demonized overweight people with such fervor that an increasing number of people are willing to allow bureaucrats to be their proxy in regulating what other people eat. This is a relatively new development and should be disturbing. What is also surprising is the belief that blanket bans on specific foods and ingredients will actually “make” people thinner.
A billion dollar weight loss industry has tried unsuccessfully to find a magic recipe to accomplish this for decades and their clientele is voluntary. They know better than anyone, that unless the client “owns” the process for themselves, they are doomed to failure.
“They came for the Ho Hos, but I didn’t like Ho Hos, so I said nothing. They came for the Mountain Dew, but I don’t drink Mountain Dew, so I stood by and did nothing. Then, they came for the nachos, my favorite tailgate snack, but they were banned before I could even protest.”
The Daily Mail reports that the Mayor and his minions now have their eye on your buttered popcorn. Proof positive that dictators are emboldened when their edicts are passively accepted. The Atlantic may have been right afterall. Bloomberg is bold –but not in a good way.
Whether food dictators are in your house or in your state house, it’s never about the food. It’s about control. If you stand by and allow others control over your stomach today, they will surely attempt and may succeed in controlling the rest of you tomorrow.Google+
Everyone of a certain age remembers Chastity Bono, who was often brought out at the end of the Sonny and Cher variety show to say a hello and a good-bye to the audience. It seemed so idyllic didn’t it?
Among his other struggles, we have come to find out that Chastity who is Chaz today, was put on diets even though he wasn’t overweight. Once again, food, diet and appearance go hand in hand when children are put on display by narcissistic parents who live through them. Should anyone be surprised that today, Chaz Bono has a significant weight problem? Yet many people seem to be.
Chaz is attempting to lose weight in much the same public way that he was put on display. He says he hopes the pressure of trying to lose weight publicly will give him more incentive to accomplish his goal. If pressure is part of what created the problem, is the pressure to be thin and “socially acceptable” really the way a proud non-conformist like Chaz will best succeed? Or, is it that political correctness never applies to those who don’t “fit” the right size or the right weight?
I try never to make clinical assumptions about the lives of people I only know superficially, but could FATLASH be among the issues with which Chaz is struggling? You bet it could and probably is.
When food, weight and appearance become the battleground on which major developmental issues are fought -those of separation, individuation and a sense of body ownership, children and for that matter, adults as well, find ways of fighting back. If fat is so abhorent to the parent who insists on such diets, that is usually the best weapon. The struggle for self and fundamental independence become more important than the misery that often accompanies being fat in our society.
Whether anyone, parent or bureaucrat, has the right to control what someone else eats through shame, force or coercion is an issue in itself, but it can and does create a sense of deprivation that can feel like a life or death struggle.
Fat becomes a weapon that speaks when the person cannot. They may spend the rest of their lives learning how to say no and to set limits rather than allowing their bodies to do it for them. This gives new meaning to the term “pro-choice,” doesn’t it?
In Chaz’s case, public display, scrutiny, scorn and/or praise has been like ”mother’s milk.” I cheer him on in his journey but if I could talk to him, I’d tell him to stop abusing himself the way he was “abused.” (I use this word lightly and not in the clinical sense.) Find your privacy and personal space, Chaz. Get to know your boundaries, your body and your appetites away from the public eye. That’s what will offer the best hope of finding your true self inside as well as out.Google+
On the eve of the conclusion of what has seemed like an interminable election cycle, I’m in the mood to wax philosophical about the issues I care about most and the country I love so much. (how sad that in some corners, such proclamations of love for one’s country is considered to be extreme.)
Freedom has always been the language of America and both parties have been known to use the idea to defend agendas which contradict those basic precepts. It behooves the voter to conduct his own taste test to determine whether the agenda truly shows respect for individual liberty and freedom.
If you are so adamant about your point of view that you would use the power and force of government to compel others to comply, you are no champion of freedom. If you draw no distinction between what you yourself would choose to do and what you would force others to do, then you do not understand our founding principles of Liberty. If you think you are entitled to “save others from themselves,” it will only be a matter of time before someone will appoint themselves lord and master over you too.
The true litmus test for freedom is to defend to the death others’ rights to behave as you wouldn’t, so long as it does not infringe on your rights to do the same. Unfortunately, we are living in a time when that simple principle has been twisted and neglected.
I may abhor sodium and soda in 17 oz containers, but I’ll defend to the death your right to ingest them. That is but one flavor and defense of freedom but it symbolizes so many others. So please vote and vote responsibly!
I loved this letter posted by Emma, Mom of little Helena on her blog, “Wealthy Single Mommy.”
How ironic that hatred which surrounds “fat” and obesity in this country never benefits from such positive expressions of acceptance. In fact, people are expected to hate themselves and often do so in order to inocculate themselves from the onslaught of fat hatred from others.
Fat hatred is often couched in “…but it’s for your own good” and has ballooned to such proportions that many are called fat even when they aren’t, as the highest form of insult.
A positive body image isn’t necessary for just some. It’s a necessity to affect any lasting change in one’s own body, whether it is to lose weight or to tolerate an “imperfection.” Everyone’s entitled to disapprove of course, but wouldn’t it be great if people recognized more readily, that people come in all shapes and sizes and forcing them to fit into prescribed dimensions is really not their business?Google+
Even when one writes a book in which two of the intended themes are self-acceptance and substance over symbolism, it’s tough to escape self-scrutiny when seeing oneself on TV–especially as compared to people we usually see there. (Jerry Springer, Honey Boo Boo and Reality TV not withstanding)
Ironically, thinking we must live up to an impossible standard is part and parcel of “fear of thin.” More on that in future posts.
I found this interesting in light of an upcoming speaking engagement (date to be announced) for a sorority which considers it so important to fight back against weight obsessions and women’s body-bashing, that they’ve instituted “no-fat-talk-Fridays.” They also teach workshops on body image.
I commend sororities like Delta Delta Delta and hope more will follow suit. Now, if only they could have a chat with me before I do my next TV interview.Google+