The Purpose of Dieting

It comes at no surprise that with our current society's obsession with the extremes in life, dieting's become a new Xanadu of physical perfection. You'll never find a lack of dieters, whether they're trying to become skinnier, healthier, more muscular, fatten up a little, or just eat better. I even admit to being one of the crowd, keeping a diary of food that I eat and obsessively checking and rechecking to make sure every nibble and dab has been accounted for. After all, even the smallest calories add up.

Nevertheless, I never fail to be perturbed by the constant bombardment of commercials featuring size 0 models wishing they could compare to their stick-thin size 00 colleagues. Then there's the cartoon that the marketing team at Barney's released in time for the holidays - needle-thin models based off the classic Disney characters that would make a pencil look fat.

There have already been complaints filed against the artists for promoting super-skinny body images, especially to children who practically idolize the lovable characters Walt Disney originally created to be playful, fun, and definitely not anorexic.
Essentially playing off the media, companies have been making loads of profit from this general fear of over indulgence. Wholesale markets are stocked with Zone, FiberOne, Atkins, and all sorts of concocted diet shakes and bars that promise consumers to slim them down in a year or less. Sometimes the catch is in the wording - after all, in a society obsessed with speed and efficiency, you naturally want the item that promises results in the least amount of time.

The average American woman sees her body not as a physical reflection of herself, but as something that she must change. It's more than popular hype - it's become a mental condition that many know well as an eating disorder. The most dangerous thing anyone - not just women - can develop from the onset of diets upon diets is a sever conditioning of the mind to refuse to eat for the sake of body image. If a dieter could simply look at his or herself without the biases that society has forced onto their minds, there could be a chance that they could, in a sense, diet healthily, unlike the millions pouring over guidebooks, searching for the Holy Grail of dieting.

In some cases, the egotistical refusal to eat transforms into a psychological hunger for food. Suffers of this condition will recognize it as bulimia. Many victims have taken up this disorder after "cheating" on their diet and feeling either an extreme need to binge or guilt. Even the fact that one could cheat on a diet is preposterous - the entire point of a diet is to regain a healthy, natural body and tricking the mind into consuming items that it was not naturally meant to consume is certainly not a reliable foundation from which a judgement can be made.

Indeed, all of the natural instinct of the human mind are tied back into the marketing strategies of companies that rely on the constant stream of profit from selling diet plans. The worse the users mentally perceive themselves, the more counseling they will seek. The deterioration continues on, inspiring generations to come of diet-obsessed consumers who no longer have an appetite for the natural foods of the past.

Stepping out of the American craze, it's not too hard to see how we were stuck in a diet-frenzy to begin with. Nearly all of our food seems to either be loaded with fats, sugars, and carbohydrates or otherwise processed in a way that may remove one or more essential vitamins and minerals from the food items. A few years back, Del Monte had even begun selling packaged bananas and grocery stores across the nation featured individually wrapped potatoes, pre-cut vegetables, and plastic wrapped fruits. As a society, America has been steadily growing apathetic, and the outside world understands.

The French, for instance, have been marveled at for eating such large portions of sugars and carbohydrates and yet retaining an overall slim figure, as a nation. Their secret, which is more of a cultural practice than any real secret, is that they allow time for the appreciation of their food. Rather than rushing hither and thither as Americans have grown accustomed, they give their children full course meals served in reasonable portions, quality bread and cheese, and an assortment of fresh and organic ingredients from which their meals are provided. There's no revelation in that some of the healthiest people diet on nothing more than the natural foods humans were meant to eat from the start of our time on Earth.

Simply Said

I've had my own experiences of loitering. Standing around outside Target on a hot August afternoon, laughing and observing the passersby always on such a rush. Carts piled high with Bounty, Gerbers, or Johnson Johnson, it was easy to tell where the mothers were constantly rushing to. I could stay for hours under the shade, my presence barely concealed by the overhanging plaster roof, home to nests of crows that gathered for the occasional tossed sandwich or spilled milkshake. I've had my own memories of window shopping at Christmastime, coveting the glorious emerald earrings or a platinum watch that had more zeroes in the price than I'd ever earned in my entire life. I've browsed through a department store just for the chance to lust over cashmere sweaters and premium leather purses. I've been there and I've been back.

And yet none of it ever satisfies me. Wanting, desiring, lusting, no matter how you say it, the feeling's inevitably in everyone - from toddlers clutching a teddy bear in Toys R Us to the undergrad searching Amazon for dresses. Our society's practically been built around consumerism ever since the early days when French fashion designers decided that changing the look every season would increase their sales. Friends compete to see who can show off the most bling, because it's so eminent that the more you spend, the more have to make yourself happy. You even find sites like Fancy these days - an entire community of lustful buyers, wanting but not able to receive. Users "Fancy" products that they wished they had and can check out the vast numbers of members who own specific products of their liking. Does buying stuff really satisfy our hunger or does it just create an illusion of happiness and carefree spending?