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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

i take issue

I came across this article today, which claims that, according to a survey, the average woman goes on twice as many diets in her life as she has lovers.  I'm sure it says something (unflattering) about me, but my immediate reaction was, "Huh. Only twice as many?"  I think for me it's more like 4x as many.  I could list for you every guy I've ever boinked, but not every attempt at dieting.  This probably means I should be sluttier. Or less eating-disordered. Or possibly both.  DON'T JUDGE ME.

Besides, both my occupations are heavily female-dominated.  This means I've worked with a lot of women over the years, and let me tell you.  A significant fraction of them started a new diet just about every other Monday and were throwing in the towel by Thursday.  Since most of them were in relationships and not out at the club every weekend fucking random people, the two-to-one statistic still seems bogus to me, even if we're assuming I am less promiscuous and more crazy about my food and body than the average chick. (For the record, I'm not sure I am. On either count.)

So, the question becomes, why do women diet so much?  They're not ALL trying to win supplement company transformation contests.  Maybe it has something to do with advertisements like this.

Or this.

Or this.

How much of this has to seep into your subconscious at a young age before you just "know" that, as a woman, you're supposed to always be making the number on the scale go down? How much has to seep into your subconscious before you think eating disgusting 90 calorie snacks of "diet food" is perfectly normal and acceptable?  How much before you start feeling guilty or full of self-loathing when you do eat the real piece of cheesecake or the actual sugar cookie?

For the record, even though I myself am dieting at the moment and was so hungry after the gym today I could have chewed off my own arm, I would no sooner eat a Fiber One brownie than I would eat dirt. What I did eat while waiting for a decent enough interval to pass that I could make and eat dinner was raw baby carrots*** and ginger tea. When I posted that online, one of my friends who's also doing the challenge said that she'd staved off pre-dinner hunger with ginger tea, raw carrots, and raw broccoli.  (I am *so* gonna win this thing.  Her broccoli probably added an extra 5 calories, ahahaha.)  But seriously. I know it probably sounds elitist or even ridiculous from someone who admits to thinking pb&j quest bars are delicious, but I cannot conceive of eating a vaguely brownie-like substance just because it's only 90 calories. For 90 calories you could have an actual cookie. That tastes good.

This whole 90-calorie food business pisses me off almost as much as the time several years ago that I read an article where some self-satisfied little snot of a nutritionist sniffed that *half* a baked potato is a serving. I'm sure I was just overly sensitive because ever since I was a young child, I've been eating a whole damn potato by myself. God. What a gluttonous pig.  I've mercifully blocked out whatever else was in that article, but I'm pretty sure it was one of those that told women they should be eating 1500 calories a day. When not, y'know, dieting.


So, anyway, yeah. Back to my thesis.  I don't believe that the average woman has only been on 16 diets in her lifetime. Unless she's under the age of 25.  It's just too pervasive in our culture.


***two things about baby carrots, if you'll indulge me.  Firstly, I was deeply disappointed (and I am not even kidding you) when I learned that baby carrots are not actually baby carrots, they're just regular carrots cut into smaller pieces. Next you'll be telling me those baby corns you get in Chinese food aren't really babies. Or corn.  Or something.  Secondly, my friend and I, through rigorous scientific experiments conducted at Cranes Beach, Ipswich MA for the past six summers, have ascertained that the only food seagulls will not eat (and therefore will not steal from out of your beach bag when you leave it unattended to go in the ocean) are baby carrots.  To control for the fact that perhaps they are averse to the color orange, we tested them with Doritos.  No.  Seagulls are down with Doritos.


  1. Well, this "average" has to include a few women like me. The only diet I've ever been on is an allergy diet, which counts as only one through all its changes. No weight-loss diets, ever. (Also, haven't watched television in nearly twenty years.) Number of lovers is single digits.
    I just don't DO hungry.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  2. (Also, raw veg, bleah. I find it impossible to believe that steaming vegetables can possibly change their calorie content. I don't like my vegetables messed up with more than the tiniest bit of salt.)

    Mary Anne in Kentucky, ranting on food

  3. Mary Anne, I do have a couple friends who never diet, so I do know y'all aren't like unicorns ;-) One of them is just a naturally thin person and has been borderline underweight her whole life (per her--I've known her less than 10 years) and the other was thin when we were young but now that we're old bitches a lot about her belly fat. She just doesn't feel compelled to do anything about it but fret. But I still maintain you chicks are heavily outweighed (NO PUN INTENDED) by the massive numbers of constantly dieting women I know or have known.

    And aw, no love for raw veggies :-( I loves me some crudites.

  4. I eat asparagus raw in the spring. Also lettuce, if I can find any with any taste to it.

    We non-dieters may not be unicorns, but I have a feeling that the media are trying to drive us to extinction!

    Mary Anne in Kentucky, fossil

  5. Another non-dieter here. I've never been overweight, but I'm not exactly thin, either. I'm 47, watch a reasonable amount of television, and when those commercials come on I never feel as though they're talking to me. I'm not sure why, but I wish I could pinpoint it because it might be helpful for other people. I read a bunch of women/feminist oriented fitness blogs, and my perception is that there are so many women out there with food issues and body-image issues that there has to be something wrong with ME.

  6. Terra, I think it has a lot to do with two things. First, your mom. If your mom is fucked up about food and her body, you probably will be too. I knew about dieting and calorie counting by the time I was 10. (Any other middle aged people remember those little calorie-count books they sold at the grocery store checkout line next to the gum? We didn't always have the internet, nevermind apps, kids.)

    Secondly, your exposure to media at a young age. My mom was a reader and she always had the house full of women's magazines, which I as a precocious little shit used to read. (And I had my own subscription to Glamour from the age of 15 to some time in my 30s, not kidding.) This is how I learned about sex, LOL. It also helped me learn how to hate my body. I failed "the pencil test" by the time I was 12, also not kidding. I spent my entire high school and college life thinking I was overweight (fatty fat fat) at 115-120 because according to the mags at 5'2 woman was "supposed" to weigh 110. I learned what cellulite was and that I was supposed to be horrified by it. I just thank god no one had invented the goddamn thigh gap yet. ::eyeroll:: And that no one in the 70s or 80s cared about having six pack abs. Or removing pubic hair. Or the size and shape of their labia. Which is why I feel really bad for young women these days. The media just keeps inventing more shit we're supposed to be disgusted about our bodies for.

  7. I wish I could disagree with you about the mom thing but that's my theory as well. In a twisted way I was lucky, because my mother was seriously depressed, slept through much of my childhood and couldn't summon the energy or inclination to teach me about the essentials of maintaining one's figure (or the necessity of enduring uncomfortable/painful clothing, or any of that other womanly self-sacrifice nonsense). I don't think she was totally free of body issues, because we kids found a box of Ayds candies in the back of a kitchen cabinet once, but she certainly didn't talk about them to me. Meanwhile, her mother was from a large, poor family, and she was a young woman during the Great Depression, so to her, being thin meant being hungry/poor. She actually told me once that she wished she'd had "a nice, full face like [mine]" when she was young - kind of a nice grandma memory to have, especially in contrast to my friend whose grandmother was giving her diet pills when she was 10.

    I did have quite a bit of media exposure from a young age. My mother had the usual housewife magazines (the Better Homes & Gardens Xmas cookie issue was early food porn) and I watched a lot of TV. I got a subscription to Seventeen when I was 14 and let it lapse after a year. I was also 5'2" and in the 115-120# range. The main issue for me was that I was quiet and nerdy, and I think there was a prevailing sense among the people around me that it didn't much matter what I looked like because my intelligence would make me unattractive to men, and I was probably going to wind up a nun or a spinster schoolteacher. We chicks just can't catch a break!

    I agree we still had it easier "back in the day". Plastic surgery was a lot less common, too. It's so weird to watch movies/TV prior to ~late 1980s/early 1990s and notice that the actresses who were considered sex symbols had natural-looking and often not very large breasts (e.g., Morgan Fairchild in "Pee Wee's Big Adventure").