DIET POP CULTURE – Amphetamines are your friend!

(Okay, so not really.)

This video shows Brigid Polk, one of the members of Andy Warhol’s Factory — a former society girl whose mother forced her to diet from a young age — describing how she uses speed instead of various reducing salons, yet insists on not being “uptight” about being the fat girl in a bathing suit.

Brigid is a rebel and a troublemaker, no doubt, but also someone who has obviously been victimized by a culture that demands the impossible from women.

As such, I offer this counterpoint — a clip from Jean Kilbourne’s Slim Hopes, which applies a serious context to every single one of these silly Diet Pop Culture posts.

The theme that underlies both Brigid’s experience, and the messages in Kilbourne’s film, is that women must be thin, must look a certain way, or risk losing love from their families and significant others, and acceptance from society as a whole. This kind of ostracism can be the kiss of death for social primates, like humans — naturally, we’ll do anything to avoid it.

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  1. Posted December 18, 2009 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    That slim hopes clip is amazing. It’s actually really scary, too.

  2. Posted December 18, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I think the Slim Hopes film must have been made in the 80’s. I rememeber cigarette ads in magazines… those “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby” ads in particular, equating smoking with feminism.

    Anyhow, my daughter is 7 and ALREADY worries about her weight and appearance. I wish I had as long to wait for he crisis of confidence as age 13-14. She watches only age appropriate, mostly non-commercial television, and has a Mom who is a feminist and humanist. She asked me one day after her baby sister was born when I would be skinny and pretty again. Sigh… these cultural influences are so pervasive that I cannot begin to fathom where she internalized that message. I suspect some of it is from school, but not in a mean little girl way. I think her health teacher and PE teacher might be telling her stuff. The other day she asked for an apple, itself not an unusual occurrence. As I washed it and handed it to her she told me she wanted it because it was “high fiber! low-fat!” and did a little arm gesture like unbalanced scales, one arm up (high fiber) one arm down (low fat).

    Uhm, yeah, thanks Teachers. We can’t talk about how apples are delicious, and sweet and full of yummy goodness? We have to tell the 7 year old she will get fat if she eats chips? Because believe me, that was her take-away.

  3. Posted December 18, 2009 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Hey, ya know, this is ‘Merica. There’s nothing wrong with destroying the self-esteems (and bodies) of countless women for a profit.


    Sometimes the sadness is overwhelming. But we must stand and fight, fight, fight, and keep spreading the message until these artificial walls of acceptance are knocked down for good. We’re not in a position to change minds on a widespread scale, we’re still considered a controversial group by most Americans (we’re “condoning” obesity and thus condoning death), but soon, and very soon, we’ll have more platforms to reach more people. The science is on our side.

    Until then, we’re just gonna have to do this thing one confused person at a time.


  4. Posted December 18, 2009 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    The pioneeing filmmaker Shirley Clark also interviewed Polk – I saw the footage at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2 years ago. She had a brilliant take on arranging herself in bed to look ‘less’.

  5. Carolyn
    Posted December 19, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Blah! I wish I could watch those documentaries. MEF has AMAZING documentaries but they range from $75 to $250. WTH?! This is good information that should be more readily available. (sigh)

  6. Posted December 20, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    My mother-in-law’s doctor recently told her she could prescribe her Adderall to lose weight. She called me to ask me what I thought about it – and I told her it’s methamphetamine. How do you feel about that? I was horrified, especially since she was being treated for hypertension.

  7. Demeter
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this. I really love your blog and your message.

    It’s astounding what lengths people will go to in order to “fit in”.

    It’s tragic that this is nothing new, and that our culture is so accepting of the ‘YOU need to change’ message. This time of the year is rough, with all the New-Years-Resolutions-Lose-Weight commercials about to dawn on us, and your blog is a welcome ray of sanity, cheer, health, and acceptance.

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