Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The unhappiness blog

Belle linked to a "Happiness" blog and questioned what the point of it might be. I looked at the thing, and... wow. For something meant to be about positivity, it's quite negative, both in the feelings it elicits and, more surprisingly, in the tone of the writer. It's to be expected that advice to 'be happy!' will receive a certain amount of snark. But the author herself, in the moments between transparent self-promotion, projects such misery, it's hard to imagine even a sincere and snark-free reader coming away from the blog more upbeat than before.

The theme of the blog seems to be happiness through self-control, a reasonable enough idea, but only to a point, particularly when it comes to food, and particularly when the implied audience is women. The whole 'ice cream is evil, go to the gym!' motif veers between common sense and the encouragement of a horrible, absolutist way of looking at the world. A woman who is by her own admission not overweight provides a ready-made eating disorder for those like herself, also not overweight, with food-and-control issues. (When your weight-loss diet includes giving up Tasti-d-Lite, the preferred food of Upper East Side private school girls, you know you've gone too far.) She even includes a requisite, "Also, although I REFUSE to go on a proper diet, I’d love to lose a few pounds," along with other non-diet diet tips. Why 'requisite'? Calling instructions on what to eat in order to lose weight 'not a diet' is, it seems, quite popular. What, dare I ask, is a diet?

Basically, any force in the world encouraging women, particularly those who don't in fact need to lose weight, to develop neurotic attitudes about food should be condemned, not celebrated as happiness-promotion.

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