I have just seen a TV advert for the weight-loss program Jenny Craig.
The claims that this diet is easy to stick to, involves no hassle, is better than diet pills and so on are nothing special. All diets claim that they’re the best and the easiest.
Unfortunately also not new is the claim in the slogan: “Welcome to a new you.”
Presumably people do actually believe this, or else the adverts would not keep saying it. Strange as it seems to me, people genuinely think that they will be a changed and better person if only they lost weight. If only their bodies were smaller, they themselves would be better.
This is the fantasy of being thin. If only I were thin, I would be extroverted and funny and beautiful. If only I were thin, I would be the life of the party. If only I were thin, I would be able to run as fast and far as my friends.
But this fantasy is a lie. Being thin will not change any of those things. It can’t. I am already funny and beautiful and introversion is nothing to be afraid of. I enjoy the smaller, less drunken kitchen gatherings at parties. And if I can’t run, it’s because I’m unfit and asthmatic, not because I’m chubby.
Hiding behind your body, physically unlikely as it sounds, is a great temptation. It is very convenient to blame your body for what you feel to be your failings, because it makes it not your fault. You might still think that being fat is your fault, but that puts your other problems at one remove. I don’t have to worry about getting fit because it’s impossible until I get thin. I don’t have to make an effort at parties because it’d be futile.
It’s still a lie.