Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Vanity vs. Health

Recently, I've found myself watching a lot of the British program Super Size vs. Super Skinny. 

No challenges.
No prizes.
Just shocking perspectives and better health.

The goal of the show is to shock the participants into seeing how terrible their diet really is. It introduces the people, then it shows in a clear plastic tube exactly what it is that they eat in a week (based on a food diary).

They then begin the diet swap. Its really interesting to see the reactions of the participants when they get the other person's meal. The doctor overseeing the experiment pops in once in a while if there is an issue or to deliver hard-hitting facts about the affect the person's diet is having on their health. 

Its an hour-long show, so naturally, just watching people eat would be a little dull. The show cuts to the doctor (Christian Jessen) visiting the "fattest cities in America," where he looks into why the population is (literally) so massive. Its kinda scary to watch. Sometimes he even sends the "super size" participant to the US to meet someone who shows them what their future could look like if they don't clean up their diet and become more active.

Also cut in throughout the show are other, less weighty, segments. They have segments following recovering anorexics, there's a woman who's goal is to "slim Britain's butts." My favorite is Anna Richardson. She tests (under medical supervision) all the crash and fad diets as well as all the gadgets that supposedly help 'get rid of fat' or 'remove cellulite.' She presents it in a comical way, and most of the crash diets are pretty funny-- like baby food. Ew.

I applaud the show for having the balls to point out the obvious: that there is a growing obesity epidemic in the world's most developed countries. Its really unfortunate and upsetting that the tone of the show sometimes turns to "look at America and what they're doing to themselves-- let's not be like that." Its a hard blow, but a necessary one. Everyone knows and loves someone who is overweight, and this show depicts just how quickly it can go from something you barely notice to something life-threatening.

No pun intended, but I realize that the bigger the problem gets, the more difficult it is to face down. However, I have never been there myself, so I can't possibly imagine the mental impact it could have on a person. Health is always more important than size, but just because no red flags have popped up, doesn't mean that something isn't brewing inside. That goes for both over- and under-weight people.

Alternatively; those who are in the position of seeing from an outside perspective, what their friends or loved ones are doing, are also in a very precarious position. No one wants to see someone they love harming themselves in ANY WAY. The hard question is: "Do I put my relationship on the line to express how concerned I am?" There's no savory way to approach it. Odds are, the other person knows what they're doing, and just isn't ready to deal with it. Ultimately, its not your body and its very minimally* your business what they do to it.

*[I say 'minimally' because if someone is paying your health insurance, or if you're slowly killing yourself while also being the sole financial provider for a family, you damn-well better expect that someone else has the right to speak up if its also effecting them. Grocery bills. Health bills. Clothing bills. If you're not 100% self-sufficient, then odds are its affecting people around you more than you realize.]

So do you bring it up? In my opinion- no. Unless it is immediately life-threatening. In the case of drugs, harming themselves, or eating disorders; those things can become deadly REALLY fast. In my informed opinion, in those cases it is appropriate and possibly necessary to take immediate action.

In all other cases, just make sure that your loved one knows that you're unconditionally and unjudgmentally (yes, I know that's not a real word) available as a support system. When they're ready (or being forced by a doctor to be ready) to change, they'll need help and encouragement-- and its hard to look for that in places where you feel you've been judged.

I hope that the SS vs. SS show in Britain has had a positive affect on the population there. It takes a neutral 3rd party and throws the issues in your face. I just hope enough people watch it for it to be as effective as it could be!

No comments:

Post a Comment