After frequenting the weight blogosphere for over two years now, I have finally identified the overwhelming characteristics of those who inhabit this world. Virtually all the serious weight loss bloggers that I have encountered are or were extremely overweight. They have lost or seek to lose 50% or more of their starting body weight. That's a lot. They see morbid obesity and serious health problems around every corner. They live in a world mainly populated by potential "Biggest Loser" contestants or the stars of "Heavy". They live in a catastrophized world where everyone risks dropping dead of a heart attack or going blind through uncontrollable, weight-induced diabetes within the next day or so.
And it just gets worse.
From what I've read, virtually all those who have revealed themselves and their lives on-line are survivors of trauma. If I only read blogs from the weight loss universe, I would believe that all the overweight among us have been abused at some point in their lives, be it physically or emotionally or both. They attribute their extreme weight problems to psychological issues and therefore see their weight as purely a personal question that can be resolved through "taking themselves in hand" and cracking the weight loss whip.
I am not making light of such trauma. Rather, I am troubled by what I see.
Strangely enough, when I look at my own life and the lives of those around me, I see none of this horror. Am I the one living in a protected bubble or does the Internet have a particular attraction for people who need to express the horror of their lives? I feel for everyone of these people. I'm just not convinced they represent the majority of fat people out there.
I'm also deeply offended when the only message that the Internet and TV give me is that there's a landslide of fat around me and that the danger of dying prematurely is stalking us all. Perhaps it's because catastrophes sell advertising spots.
I guess we've had our fill of rapists and the people who lurk outside our bedroom windows waiting to kidnap our children. We've even stopped constantly thinking about terrorism...Now we've got the great obesity crisis of the 2000s to help feed our need for fear and fill the coffers of the TV networks and the advertisers.
As usual, I feel the need to make a plea for rationality. Diets don't work (OK, they don't work only 95% of the time). If you want to make changes to your life (and only if you want to), there are so many small things you can do: walk a bit more, ask yourself "why" before you devour whatever it is you devour. If the answer is simply "because I like it", that's fine. If the answer is "I feel stifled by my partner or my life is in disarray or I can't get over the death of my father or my boss is a tyrant", then work on that, not on starving yourself. And in so doing, you may perhaps get healthier, even if your weight doesn't go down. Because, and I just have to say it again, we've got to decouple the number on the scale from the state of our health.
Now, off for a walk along the beach and then a light lunch. I feel drawn to both, rather than being terrified into doing either one.