Friday, January 30, 2015

"Nuts, how many in one serving?"

Elle addresses a topic new to women's magazines: what is it, exactly, that's "making us all fat"? Who exactly is meant by this first-person-plural isn't clear - the accompanying photos (of models, of the author) show slender women. Are we really all fat? In womensmagazineland (and Elle is usually the best of the bunch!), yes, we really are all fat. All of us are works in progress, in need of some kind of cleanse or lifestyle change or euphemistic improvement. Or so it was - the pendulum seems to have swung, and we're no longer in euphemism territory. We're back where we started, with already-slim women shaming one another for having not chucked entire food groups. Women's mags, too, have joined the backlash against PC, and are now back to triggering disordered eating through a more direct approach.

Two things jumped out at me about the piece. The first was the title (or maybe just the Twitter title, Twitter being where I found it), which had something to do with "green juice," which is apparently making all of us fat. Even those of us who still haven't gotten around to trying it. The strip mall with the Japanese supermarket and Trader Joe's won out as today's excursion. But I shouldn't get complacent; sushi is also making us fat. And bagels, although that's not going to surprise anyone who's ever come across an article of this genre before.

Actually, Justine Harman's framing of this piece - which is an interview with a lecturer in This Is Why You're Fat Studies - is brilliant. The gist of it is that all of the "Cleaneatalian" foods are - paradoxically - the ones that are making us fat. Skim lattes, green juice, and almonds - almonds! - are the problem. (Typing this reminded me of some almonds a few feet away; they're now at hand. Said almonds are at this very moment in the process of making me fat.) Of course, what sort of "problem" are we talking about? The article's aimed at the kind of woman who is not, in fact, fat. Or it's aimed at flattering the reader into thinking she's already slim but could be thinner still. It's not (just), in other words, a service-journalism piece alerting readers that the proverbial lowfat Snackwells are actually more fattening than fruit, especially if you respond to the reassuring packaging by eating the entire package. It's more along the lines of, you think you're doing everything? You're not - there's more.

Which brings us to the other thing that jumped out: Harman describes the diet-peddler she's interviewing as "the kind of glowing brunette you might see shopping at Whole Foods in lightweight cashmere while you're wearing your linty Lulus and snacking on Snapea Crisps." This is some of the most impeccable lifestyle writing I've ever seen. Harman managed to make wearing Lululemon to Whole Foods sound shabby.


Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman said...

I'm skinny because I'm really mindful of every meal. For me, being a size two is a choice, and it's the same choice people make when they show up to work on time, when they dye their hair, or brush their teeth.

Wow, she sounds like a barrel of laughs to hang out with. I'd rather be a size X who enjoys a skinny latte and sushi roll on the regular, than a size 2 who stresses out about everything she puts in her mouth.

Phoebe said...


I agree, as my much-used rice-cooker and milk-foamer would attest. The worst, though, is the pressure to be "a barrel of laughs" and spontaneous (-seeming) about one's eating while discreetly maintaining a size 2. Although, as I say in the post, those days may be over.