Thursday, 17 January 2008

Eat to Save Your Life

Since when have scare tactics ever worked with people? Cigarette packaging has huge warning labels plastered all over it. Well, whoop-dee-doo. My in-laws still smoke a pack a day, and I'm sure by now they don't even notice the words anymore.

Or what about fake speed cameras? Everyone I know is happy to tell me which cameras are real or fake on any given stretch of road. So that doesn't work.

Here are some more commonly used scare tactics:

"If you don't finish your homework you won't get a good grade. Then you won't be able to get into the college you want. You will end up cleaning toilets for a living."

"If we allow them to build that incinerator we will soon be seeing two headed babies."

"If you go out without your coat you'll catch pneumonia and die."

I didn't go to college, and funnily enough I don't clean toilets for a living. I live near an incinerator and (so far) my babies have one head, and even though I often go out without my coat on, I haven't caught pneumonia yet.

I think most people see these statements as manipulative, fear-mongering attempts to strong-arm someone into a certain way of thinking or behaving.

So why do we accept statements from so-called "celebrities" as gospel? Why is Jamie Oliver allowed to stir up hatred and fear in the name of science?

Frankly, the entire premise of the show disgusts me. Not because they are showing the inner workings of the human body, but because this nameless man is being ridiculed and vilified beyond the grave. Did he sign a form allowing these people to desecrate his body in this manner? Did he know that an entire nation of people would be watching his body be cut apart and paraded around as some sort of grotesque circus side-show?

This televised dissection is nothing more than a ratings bid. It is another chance for Jamie Oliver to get into the headlines. Junkfood Science says it best:

No, this is not science or a documentary. This is theatre. There is no evidence that shock theatre and repulsing people by cutting up dead bodies will in any way send a “positive message,” not to mention a credible one. It will, however, pile on to the discriminatory beliefs about fat people and add to the fears and angst people already feel about their food and bodies.

I'm so tired of being told that I should live my life in fear; I'm tired of the constant messages of not being "good" enough or "healthy" enough or "beautiful" enough. I'm especially tired of the message of "Fat = Early Grave, you stupid Fattie Fatso". I have a close family member who is overweight (whatever that ambiguous statement actually means) and is suffering from a heart problem. No, the heart problem has nothing to do with her weight. She has perfect cholesterol levels, her heart muscles are in great shape; she's very healthy overall, it's just that her heart misfires electrical signals and therefore it doesn't beat regularly. She seems to have a genetic propensity for this problem and it was triggered by stress. Not her weight, and not because she has a candy bar once in a while.

Jamie Oliver cooks food. He is not a nutritionist, he is not a scientist, he is not a doctor. He is a chef with a pretty face who lucked into a TV programme a few years ago and is now doing everything he can to keep his celebrity status. He is a con, and so is this show.

And just to change the subject slightly, I'm also annoyed that diabetes is always equated with "OMG!! Soooo FAT AND UNHEALTHY!!". My husband has diabetes, and it was in no way his fault nor was it preventable. It was a fluke situation wherein his immune system attacked his pancreas before he even turned 30 years old. There is so much misinformation out there, all in the name of "science", "education", or "documentaries."


Anna said...

I hadn't heard about that programme before. How horrible. Not that I would be watching it anyway because I hate Jamie Oliver ('Try something new today!' 'All right, how about I try kicking you in the face until you shut up?') (Sorry, don't know where that came from). Anyway, I think you're right that it doesn't work, because personally, it makes me want to go downstairs and eat an entire packet of chocolate digestives.

Um... Yum! said...

Scare tactics definitely worked on me up until I graduated college. Then I discovered that everything was a lie. So now my main advice for people usually is, "Whatever. Doesn't matter. No worries. Who cares?" Not that I'm apathetic or something, but stressing out over anything...just doesn't matter.

Have you heard of a show called Boston Legal? It's a comedy (though has its dramatic moments of course) about a law firm. One of the cases they had a woman was suing a medical museum for using her father's body to show the effects of cigarettes and alcohol. They left his head in tact with his insides showing making a mockery of him basically. He had sold his body to science, but she was saying he didn't sell it to be ridiculed like that. So perhaps the man did voluntarily offer his body up for medical purposes. Maybe it was for the show. Who knows. But the show itself, yeah...That would probably just make me puke and then continue on normally. I think seeing people who are happy and healthy eating correctly encourages us more to do the same.

RaisinCookies said...

I think seeing people who are happy and healthy eating correctly encourages us more to do the same.

I agree with you. Just enjoy good food, and leave everyone else alone. I am not in the practice of policing other people's lifestyle choices, and I don't think ridicule and shame will help anyone change for the better (no matter what their habits are).

This is one of the reasons why I like Nigella Lawson -- it's like she has a love affair with gorgeous food, and I would like to join her. Yum!

And Anna? I'll join you in your kick-a-thon. And the biscuits for afters!

reallyrobins said...

Oh, the poor family of this man being autopsied on television! Unless they are heartless, I cannot imagine they want their (hubby, father, son, brother)treated this way in death. While there are people who eat their way into obesity, there are also those who don't.

The horrid thing is that the show will be (or was?) well watched! The world is full of train-wreck watching, thrill seeking, people. Here, in Nebraska, USA, where I live we had a mall killing - 17 year-old kid killed 8 people and them himself. Every minute detail was on the tv and in the news. 911 calls were aired over and over, surveillance tapes shown, people interviewed. It became more than just news, it became a happening. And through all of that the victims families had to hear over and over.....

Ugh! Wouldn't it be nice if the "grown-ups" that are the powers-that-be realized what we mothers have come to realize with our children? Positive influence works! Negative influence, well it just doesn't!

Have a wonderful day in the UK!