Holier-than-thou, and getting holier.

So, I just read this editorial-slash-book-review, or whatever it’s supposed to be. The most striking thing, to me, is the writer’s use of moralizing, sin-a-licious language:

In theory, I’m a food libertarian and don’t believe the state should take responsibility for curbing individuals’ greed.” [Emphasis mine.]

And her…colourful…use of hyperbole, which wouldn’t be entirely out-of-place in the opinion section of your local junior high student paper:

But it’s sad to watch already-chubby kids at the food courts eating hassock-sized cinnamon rolls, haystacks of french fries and stacked baseballs of ice cream. The kids may as well be wearing T-shirts proclaiming “Diabetic in Training.”

Whoa, Hoss, let’s tone down the outrage for a second there and consider things sensibly, shall we?

First of all, people don’t eat because they’re greedy. Greed, and the other deadly sins we hold so dear to our shrivelled, black hearts, has absolutely nothing to do with food. We eat because we’re hungry, or because something looks and smells delicious, and because we’re hard-wired to eat tasty food.

As much as is available.

This is a survival mechanism — because who knows when it’s coming around again, right? Particularly if you’ve ever survived a food shortage (or, the more likely case in North America, if you’ve ever survived a weight-loss diet.)

Hard to believe, I know, since humans obviously aren’t just animals who evolved from other animals, thus still having certain animal needs and certain animal behaviours. No, no — we’re all just greedy little fallen angels slavering with lust at the thought of buggering some poor, starving charity case out of his last can of Campbell’s Cream of Tomato.

So we can stuff it mindlessly down our gaping, triple-chinned maws…

big mouth

Baconatorzzzzzzzz

Wait. Where was I again? Oh yeah, considering things sensibly.

Look. We’re human. We get hungry. Yes, we even crave and enjoy salt, sugar, and fat. Because those things (aside from representing two of the three existing macronutrients, and one of the most important micronutrients) are precious commodities to animals in the wild, and it makes sense to eat up as much of them as you can, and store that energy against a rainy day.

And, yes, becoming civilized little monkeys has changed our world, and that strategy is now a bit outdated. But the innate desires are still there. And yes, the food industry capitalizes on those innate desires and tries to manipulate our appetites for profit (want to talk about greed? *cough*)

But none of this should come as a big, nasty surprise to a society of educated consumers living in a rich country in the year 2009.

And none of this makes us greedy, gluttonous assholes — it makes us human beings.

The way to deal with this is not to point fingers at the fatties and shriek with moral outrage about their greed. The way to deal with this is not to conflate eating habits with body size, or to blame diabetes on those evil white foods.

Wacky as it may sound, the way to deal with it is to, first, calm the fuck down. And stop being such an asshole to people who don’t look like you. And stop attaching a moral value to food, or to health.

Maybe learn to take care of yourself with kindness instead of flagellation. You might find that all that hyper-processed stuff makes for a fun treat, but actual, ya know, food makes a far more satisfying and delightful staple. And you might learn to even enjoy it, rather than swallowing it whole out of some deranged sense of duty.

None of us, fat or thin, are such idiots that we can’t figure out how to eat appropriately for our bodies. And it really is okay to enjoy things that taste good.

It’s food. That’s what it’s for.

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11 Comments

  1. jase
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Nope, not gonna happen. Fat people eat, fat people get dinged. Stop eating = stop getting in-the-face scoldings. Only way.

    • Posted September 18, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Alrighty. I’ll get right on that, then.

  2. Posted September 18, 2009 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Thank you for presenting a less biased view. While kids do need to be taught proper nutrition, attaching a moral value to overeating or to eating “bad” foods is not helpful to anyone. This “thin is holy, fat is evil” attitude is not helping anyone become healthier, it is only making a certain segment of the population hate themselves. I for one would like to be able to like myself at any size, but the message is that while I am heavy, I should hate myself. I have self-esteem issues as it is and this message surely does not inspire me to want to take better care of myself.

    • Posted September 18, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      You’re right about the shaming message not helping people to take care of themselves — some research has confirmed this. Shaming fat people may actually cause them to engage in detrimental health behaviours, like binge eating.

      So, you know, it’s ironic (read: total bullshit) that all the haterzzz are supposedly so “concerned” about our health.

  3. Posted September 18, 2009 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Go get ’em girl!

    I’m so tired of fat equating gluttony and sloth. About bodies, food and exercise being about morality. As I keep saying on my own blog, your worth is not your physical body, it’s your heart, your mind and your soul.

  4. rachael
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    You are absolutely right about those innate desires. We desire to eat more than we need because of how we’re biologically configured. So by definition then this absolutely *does* make us greedy and gluttonous, because that’s what those words mean. That’s the human condition. We are greedy. Our wants are infinite. We have to make trade-offs between them.

    • Posted September 18, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      I dunno, rachael. Greedy and gluttonous are words with a moral definition.

      Doing what we are influenced to do, biologically, when it doesn’t actively harm anyone else, is hardly a moral issue.

      Peeing is not a moral issue. Shitting is not a moral issue. Sex is not a moral issue, assuming it is between consenting adults.

      Eating is definitely not a moral issue, except in cases where you’re considering the treatment of animals or the sustainability of the environment and the food system.

      But eating, itself, because we’re hungry and we are biologically predisposed to like food? Not a moral issue.

  5. Posted September 18, 2009 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Word.

  6. Jodie
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    You are my new hero – great words and commentary!

  7. Posted September 18, 2009 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    You know, as I read this I had a thought: your response “assumes” evolution as truth. There’s so much crap denying evolution that I have to wonder if the same people who think eating certain food is just a lack of self-control (Puritan style) are also people who don’t believe in evolution and, therefore, don’t believe a biological urge to consume certain nutrients and quantities. Hm.

    • Posted September 18, 2009 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, and you know — people who don’t operate as though the theory of evolution is a pretty damn good explanation of how we came to be — well, that’s just a whole other level of irrationality I’m not prepared to address.

      I’m a science student, after all. That’s my bias.

      I think you might be onto something about the underlying reason people conflate biological realities with individual moral worth, however. Good call.

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