Saturday, May 15, 2004

The Skinny on Dieting

If she were to eat, she would have energy; with ample stores of sugar to set off the buzz for intellectual exploration, starch to convert into restlessness in her elongating legs, fat to fuel her sexual curiosity, and the fearlessness born from a lack of concern over where her next meal will come from - she will get in trouble.

What if she doesn't worry about her body and eats enough for all the growing she has to do? She might rip her stockings and slam-dance on a forged ID to the Pogues, and walk home barefoot, holding her shoes, alone at dawn; she might baby-sit in a battered-women's shelter one night a month; she might skateboard down Lombard Street with its seven hairpin turns, or fall in love with her best friend and do something about it, or lose herself for hours gazing into test tubes with her hair a mess, or climb a promonotory with the girls and get drunk at the top, or sit down when the Pledge of Allegiance says stand, or hop a freight train, or take lovers without telling her last name, or run away to sea. She might revel in all the freedoms that seem so trivial to those who could take them for granted; she might dream seriously the dreams that seem so obvious to those who grew up with them really avaliable. Who knows what she would do? Who knows what it would feel like?

But if she is not careful she will end up: raped, pregnant, impossible to control, or merely what is now called fat. The teenage girl knows this. Everyone is telling her to be careful. She learns that making her body into her landscape to tame is preferable to any kind of wildness. Dieting is being careful.

- Naomi Wolf
from The Beauty Myth p. 217