Too Much Information

This past week I rode out my first earthquake (5.9) and my first real hurricane. Irene and I are pretty much friends, since she left. Kindly, she didn’t take my electricity or internet or trees or lawn furniture. If you like, you can check out a poem I wrote for her here.  But, she also left me something to ponder:

I often (OK, always) listen to either news radio, Christian music, Janet Parshall,  or a podcast sermon. But, as Irene approached, I upped the ante on news. Incessantly, obsessively, I listened to weather updates and hurricane warnings. I almost felt like I was in greater control if I knew what to expect. It was as if I could keep my lights on or will Irene back to sea if I just knew what to expect. I think I might have cursed the meteorologist if she had been wrong. How dare she lie to me!

I know, really I do, that I had no control whatsoever over Irene’s behavior. For that matter, neither did the weather-woman. Suddenly, it dawned on me (albeit slowly) that Irene was going to do what Irene was going to do whether I knew about it or not! Hurricanes have been attacking coastlines for millennium – long before radios and television broadcasted warnings. And the earthquake! it shook my house and the Washington Monument with no forethought. The only forethought given was God’s.

It seems funny to me, as we think we grow smarter and smarter, that ultimately we are no more powerful. Is God chuckling? In fact, perhaps we were better off before we knew enough to frighten us of everything.

– now that we have defined calories – we worry about eating too many

– now that we measure our education by degrees – we worry that we aren’t smart enough

– now that we have games and computers we spend hours lost in ourselves and outside of relationship

– now that we have so much information, we have too much to do and no time for families

Do you see what I’m saying?

Recently, I read a study that determined that the average adult spends more than 8 hours a day in front of some screen – receiving information. And yet, we know that we are scarcely using the vast capacity of our minds. Made in the image of God – should we re-evaluate what type of information we are consuming?

Enough Said.

Saturdays can be kind of slow around here, so I decided to spice things up a bit.

I started off wondering about Top 10’s.  What do you think the Top 10 Craziest Moments in Body Image were this last year?  Is it any wonder where our internal lies about our bodies come from?

So, let’s make this fun!  There are 2 ways to win and 4 will be winners.  Either:

Follow the picture-link below, view the pictures and leave a comment and include this link in your comment: http://www.benjity.wordpress.com

OR

Subscribe to this blog, by clicking “subscribe” in the top right corner of this page.

Four winners will receive a copy of Harriet Brown’s book, “Feed Me!”  She does have a new book out, so we may have another contest later – she’s a great author!  Stay tuned too, because if you win, I will need your contact information!  Good Luck!

The Reality of Weight Loss Television Pt. 3

Many people do not feel that way.  “The real issue isn’t whether having extra pounds is healthy-it’s about treating others with kindness and dignity, no matter what their size,” Mary Allard, another Women’s Health reader said.  That is how we want our children treated at school.  We expect teachers and coaches to model respect to our children.

I am not simply addressing the issue of weight loss reality TV shows and the potential danger clinically.  The topic is very personal for me.  At age fourteen, my life and health were devoured by anorexia.  I did not need to lose weight.  I did not intend to.  But the brainwashing had begun years before.   At that time, the message was only plastered on every magazine cover and expressed in every advertisement.  From lotion to clothing, sunglasses to vacation spots, beverages to razors, the message was clear – if you’re skinny life is better, life is more fun.

Thus began months of expensive inpatient and outpatient therapy, numerous counselors and years of heartache that threatened to undo my family.   My struggle with anorexia lasted 15 years.  I spent two three-month inpatient treatment stays at Remuda Ranch, a eating disorder treatment facility in Arizona.  After years of followup counseling and precarious relapses, I am finally healthy.  Doctors still wonder whether or not I will be able to have children.

Anorexia is the most fatal mental illness.  Twenty percent of people suffering from anorexia will die prematurely due to complications from the disease, including suicide.  Your daughter does not need a television show to influence her body image.  Fifty percent of girls between the ages of 13 and 15 believe they are overweight.  Eighty percent of 13-year-old girls have dieted.

For centuries, some forms of entertainment have been dangerous.  Weight loss reality TV shows rival the colosseums of ancient Rome.  Change the channel.  Turn off the television.  Take drastic measures.  Protect your daughter.

The Reality of Weight Loss Television Pt 2

The danger lurks everywhere all day long, as media pervades and invades our lives.  But picture this:

Your family finishes a dinner of hamburgers, fresh fruit and iced tea.  It’s your daughter’s birthday so you celebrate with generous pieces of her favorite cake.  After dinner, your 11 year old daughter heads to the living room and turns on the 7 p.m. program, The Biggest Looser.

Jillian Michaels is screaming at some poor, heavy teenager, “RUN, you lazy bum!  You’ll never make it at that rate!  Do you want to look like that the rest of your life?  Aren’t you embarrassed?  This is it, if you fail, you’re off the show!”  Tears streaming down his face the kid struggles on to please this vicious slave driver.

Next scene, the trainer studies each contestants plate.  “Cake is evil.  Red meat will make you fatter than a walrus.  How dare you consider a refined carbohydrate!  You’re on a 1200 calorie diet.”

The show is almost over, the contestants weigh in.  One woman failed to lose the expected amount of weight.  Publicly berated for her selfish laziness, she is reduced to tears and self loathing.

When the program ends, your precious daughter heads to bed.  She turns sideways toward the mirror and looks intently at her profile.  She notices that her thighs touch.  She wonders if maybe she should be playing basketball at school instead of being in the  poetry club.  She would burn more calories that way.  Next year, you can be sure, she won’t eat cake on her birthday.

To be fair, the effects of these television shows are largely dependent on the audience.

One Woman’s Health reader commented on an article in the magazine, “I love that The Biggest Loser promotes physical fitness and emotional control.  [They] seek to improve people’s lives and set a good example for a healthier future.”  While this may be true for a mature viewer, your daughter may hear a different message.

Critics of weight loss reality TV shows are concerned that they may encourage unhealthy behaviors in the name of rapid weight loss, inspired by large prize money and social acceptance.  They suggest that some contestants engage in vomiting and purging behind the scenes.

Weight loss at the rate depicted in these shows is unrealistic and unhealthy.  Doctors recommend a weight loss of one or two pounds a week.  The deception starts here.  The time frame shown as a week on the show is not always true. In an interview with Golda Poretsky, H.H.C., of, www.bodylovewellness.com, Kai Hibbard, a 2006 contestant on The Biggest Loser told her experience.

“[A week] varied.  It went from 14 days and I believe that near the end we had one week that was 5 days.”  Tactics used to speed up weight loss included severe dehydration and dangerously low calorie counts.

“You are surrounded by people who dehydrate and starve themselves every single day, and production who encourages you to do it, it becomes the normal accepted behavior whether you know intellectually it is wrong or not,” Kai continued in the interview.  “Unfortunately, what they’re telling you the contestants are doing and what they actually have the contestants doing are two different things, at least as far as my season goes.  We were working out anywhere between 2 and 5 hours a day, and we were working out severely injured.”

Critics of weight loss reality TV assert that the shows are in fact far from “reality.”  Contestants quit their jobs for weeks.  They live in seclusion from daily pressures of life, surrounded only by fitness instructors, dietitians and other professionals intent on making them skinny.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, shows like The Biggest Loser frequently show overweight contestants being screamed at and demoralized.  The silent message is that being fat warrants this kind of cruelty.  Supposedly the cruel sarcasm will shame the fat person into doing whatever it takes to lose weight.

“I believe that  . . . most of the contestants, felt like it was okay to treat us like we were subhuman when we were there, that the ends justify the means.  If they were going to make us thin, then it was totally worth it to humiliate us and treat us poorly all the way along.  I just don’t feel that way,”  Kai told Golda.

Be here next Monday for the conclusion of this topic.  You can read Part One in the Cultural Lies Category.

The Reality of Weight Loss TV

Today’s colosseum is the television.  The gladiators are reality TV shows.  The victim is your daughter.

It is no longer just airbrushed models and ridiculously skinny celebrities that distort her body image.  Now ‘real’ people team up with famous trainers, chefs and psychologists to convince her that she is destined to be obese unless she takes drastic, sometimes life threatening measures.

In the United States, The Biggest Looser, arguably the most well known weight loss reality TV show made its debut in 2004.  Since then it has fascinated audiences worldwide, airing in over 90 countries and produced in 25 countries.  The Biggest Looser was followed by Weighing In in 2006.  Then, Dance Your Ass Off began in 2009.

The frenzy over skinny is an international obsession.  The UK, Australia and Canada all have versions of these shows.  And, like the Romans of old, the entertainment must become more graphic, more sensational, more unrealistic, to hold the audience’s attention.

Supersize vs. Superskinny, pits a grossly obese person, an anorexic and their respective diets against each other in the “arena.”  The individuals swap diets for a  week in order to learn about the other’s bad habits.  This exploitation of sick people only introduces them and the viewers to more dangerous habits.  The series also promotes extreme measures such as Laser Lipolysis and Diabulimia.

What’s the danger?  Is this not just another form of entertainment?  Are we really letting our children toy with behaviors as threatening as lions and gladiators?  Are our little girls being steeped in the lie that skinny is better, beautiful wins, and that beauty is not subjective?  Simply, experientially: Yes.

Check back next Monday for more on this topic…