The other day, as I was relaxing on my couch watching an episode of Judge Judy (I can’t help it, I just love her), I was reminded yet again of what a schizophrenic society we live in. We’ve all been subjected to diet commercials. I’ve noticed they are especially prolific during the day, when advertisers assume a lot of women will be at home tending to the kids and wondering what to cook for dinner. Since I work at home, and occasionally goof off by catching a daytime show, I also come under their radar once in awhile. Here is what I’ve noticed for a very long time, and I’m sure you have too.
They’ll air a diet commercial; some bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young woman will stand there saying, “I was so miserable 30 pounds ago! Then I tried Weight Watchers/Nutri System/Jenny Craig/[INSERT DIET MEGA-CORPORATION HERE] and now I feel free! I can live again!!!” Then they’ll show her before and after pictures, and maybe even a picture of her inside some old pants, which are stretched out to look like a clothesline. Those of us watching who are far more than 30 pounds overweight feel appropriately chastised, along with all the shame, malaise, and annoyance that follows.
Thirty seconds later, a commercial for Domino’s Pizza/McDonald’s/Burger King/Sara Lee Cheescake/[INSERT FAST FOOD MEGA-CORPORATION HERE] airs. The commercial will linger over and accentuate every single gooey, mouth-watering, drippy, cheesy, sugary bit of saturated fat-and-carbohydrate laden deliciousness. They will encourage us all to open up our mouths and enjoy some of it, and there are always thin people smiling and happily enjoying said food.
It’s a constant yes/no message; the eternally doomed romance of temptation and shame. On the one hand, we’re all being told how fat is disgusting and our lives will never be happy until we lose weight. Then, in the next breath, we’re subjected to a barrage of unbelievably alluring, junky food.
It’s the same with women’s magazines. I try to avoid them at all costs, but whenever I’m in a waiting room, there’s an inevitable pile of them on a table somewhere. It’s either that or stare at the wall, so I flip through them… and it’s always the same: countless pictures of toothpick-thin models, articles on working out and dieting, and then a HUGE food section in the back with the most delectable recipes for crispy fried chicken, deep dish lasagna, and triple chocolate brownies drizzled with caramel.
We all know it’s a big con. We all know the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar bottom feeder, preying on our insecurities and egos in order to thrive.