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My 2011 Resolution: Gain Weight, Have Catharsis on TV

January 16, 2011

It’s the middle of January. Have you given up on your New Year’s resolution yet? For most people, there comes a point in time when you realize that what you really want is a different outcome, not a different way of doing things. The biggest hurdle to resolutions is not getting frustrated at all the thinking involved – having to think about meals, how much you’re spending, etc. That’s why my new year’s resolution for 2011 is one I can follow pretty easily: I’m going to get really, really fat.

Stop salivating at my mid-afternoon snack and keep reading…

I want to have a cathartic experience, and I want to have it on television.

I’ve been watching a lot of new television these days and I’ve come to the conclusion that the easiest way to have said cathartic experience is to gain back all the weight I lost a few years ago plus a whole bunch more. Why? Because there are a plethora of shows out there that I would be eligible for: The Biggest Loser, Heavy, Losing It (w/ Jillian Michaels), I Used to Be Fat, Thintervention, You Are What You Eat (if I were to move to the UK) and countless TLC documentaries and of course daytime talk shows. I’ve calculated that I would need to gain at least 125 pounds to qualify for one of these shows. Which makes sense, since that’s about how much weight the contestants lose by the grand finale with the holograms and confetti. That’s a lot of weight, a whole person in fact, but I want my cathartic experience damnit:

You may be asking yourself one of two questions. Either a) Where do I get that corndog pizza that’s staring me in the face right now? OR b) What’s with all these tv shows??

I will answer the second question.

If there’s anything Americans (and the British apparently) love more than the golden hue of friedness, it is the belief in willpower, especially with weight-loss shows. We have decided that people are fat because they simply don’t know how to say no. They will often mention the emotional reasons behind the inability to say no, but the solution is always that the person must develop an iron willpower in order to overcome the years and years of living in a sea of saturated fat. And they yell, cry, pout, storm off, etc. until they realize something along the lines of, “I never thought I could do this, I never knew how strong I was.”

Obviously I watch these shows because I like them. My issue is not that they aren’t entertaining or even inspiring on some level. But having so many around is sending out a few messages that I have problems with.

The first is that it makes it seem as if being fat is a completely personal issue. They almost completely disregard the fact that someone out in the world decided to put CORNDOGS on a PIZZA. For you unfortunate souls who gain weight from eating these foods, YOU should learn how to avoid these eateries, order something off the menu if you still want to hang out with people who don’t mind dying of cardiac arrest before 40, or just eat by yourself at home. If you think that it’s up to each person to say no to these foods keep in mind that food is now EVERYWHERE. So we have to say no a whole lot more often than we used to, and the country’s soaring obesity rates are evidence enough that we aren’t good at this, for many reasons that are out of our control.

Second, they instill in many people the belief that only a trained professional would be able to create the willpower that they crave so much. And until the day that happens you will just continue to do what you’re doing, not counting those two weeks at the beginning of each year when you buy a gym membership for $300 and go a total of….once.

And finally, it makes it seem as if going through this type of cathartic experience is one that should be experienced at some po0int in life. My undergraduate advisor once surveyed female college students who had been to a talk by a young woman who had been anorexic. Instead of wanting to eat healthy they wanted to test their own strength in the same way and see if they could come out the other side a stronger person. Think about it, our stories of struggle are badges of honor. Saying, “I used to be really fat” always makes it seem as if you’ve been through a personal war. But here’s what the audience doesn’t get to see: the people who DIED due to their weight.

If they could say anything, I’m sure it would be, “Don’t ever get this fat, not even to get on tv.”

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