Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm not perfect. Thank God.

I put myself through a certain amount of agony in re: diet and exercise. Like many (most?) American women, I have been taught (in my case, by the media and peers) that being "bigger" than normal is unacceptable. It used to be framed (and in more regressive circles, still is) as an ugliness issue. It's since been reframed in arguably more progressive circles as a "health" issue (though if you read the comments on ANY New York Times health column dealing with weight or diet, there are at least a few comments implying that fat people should get off their cans and start exercising and sharply restricting caloric intake mainly so the "pretty" people don't have to look at their lardliness).

So I have my issues. And I realize they're my issues.

But I don't tell other people how they should live simply because of my issues.

However, I fear this is our future - we get people who either have paranoia about their body size, or who have control issues, and we all get put on diets "for our own good" or have food taxed because it's "bad" food. (One of the hallmarks of recovery from eating disorders, I understand, is helping the person to come to a realization that food does not carry moral weight. There are foods that may be more healthful, in the sense of having more vitamins or such, but chocolate cake is not "sinful.")

I don't know. This proposed soda tax - on the one hand, I say to myself, "well, you rarely drink soda, and so if it came down to this, or to a tax on excess weight, you should plump (heh) for the soda tax" (And yes - at one time it was apparently suggested, in WWII, that every "overweight" person be fined $20 for each pound, as a way of funding (IIRC) the lend-lease program. Or some similar craziness).

Of course, the problem is the slippery slope: Sugary soda is bad, tax it. But wait, some juice has as much sugar as soda. And chocolate milk has lots of sugar. And of course, sugar's not the only culprit: fat makes people fat. So let's tax meat. And cheese. And butter and bacon (if those aren't outright made illegal). And then some brilliant soul will observe that if a person ate enough butternut squash, they could probably get fat on it...and we will wind up with a VAT on ALL foods, ostensibly to "save us from ourselves." And the result will not help anything - poor folks will be hurt and will still wind up buying the cheapest food they can find (which is often the highly processed food that the foodies like to demonize)

Because folks who are scraping to get by aren't going to buy $20 organic arugula. Even if it's taxed less than the boxes of Kraft dinner.

Hell, I wouldn't buy $20 organic arugula, or $19 a pound bison steaks (well, maybe once or twice a year as a treat), or $29 a pound cheese. Because...though I make a good living and all, I can't see spending that kind of money on food. Yes, I buy the $4 bags of organic pre-cleaned spinach, because I'm more likely to make salad if I can just quickly rinse the spinach instead of having to remove sand and grit from it first. And I buy the pre-made orange juice instead of the cheaper frozen concentrate, because I always forgot to take that hard little core out of the freezer the night before.

But there's a point at which you just have to say, leave people the hell alone. Yes, there are some folks who can only afford Kraft dinner and such. Slapping an additional "salt tax" or "fat tax" on it is not going to make them go, "Wow, we should be eating salad instead" nor is it going to enable them to buy salad. (Unless this is actually some kind of bizarre wealth redistribution scheme, where po' folks will get "stimulus checks" that are only able to be spent on certain produce items).

But I'm even more irked when one of the people nannying at us to avoid certain foods eats them himself AND ALSO has body image issues even more screwed up than my own.

I'm not perfect. I try to eat healthful food most of the time. But you know? Once in a while, I like oreos. Or an orange drink from the drive-thru. Or those deep fried mozzarella sticks. And you know? I'm not going to claim any more I "never" eat that stuff (with the unspoken asterisk of "well, except VERY rarely"). Because yeah, I maybe eat an order of deep fried cheese once every six months or so. But saying I "never" eat it - well, that's claiming a perfection I don't possess, and now after reading about Bloomberg's issues, I don't want to possess. So yeah, I like spinach salad and I eat it a lot. But I also like deep fried cheese. And cookies. And waffle fries, once in a while. And there's nothing wrong with that. Because I keep it in a balance. I don't have to be perfect, thank God for that.

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