Beginnings are always the hardest part for a writer. Authors will stew for days, weeks, months, debilitated by attempts to pen their latest literary feature. Writer’s block always creeps into the author’s bed, impregnating the mind with silence. We’ve all given birth to this child, this soundless bundle of bedlam. The infant we crave to abort. Writers starve to have this child vacuumed from their womb. Somehow gestation always proceeds, we coast through that third trimester, and unwillingly cradle our tongueless infant. The bastard child we never wished for. We each have our own remedy to sooth this babe into a manageable state. Mine is television. More importantly, what I refer to as “Reality Smut Programming.” My mute newborn always screeches like a banshee when the 30-minute dunce escapades cascade into view.
For the past few months my medicine has come in the form of MTV. The lineup of mind-numbing ignorance is readily accessible for my streaming pleasure. It’s the Devil on the airwaves, and I am dizzily jerking it off for my viewing pleasure. My excitement climaxes with each minute of smut, pushing my mind and body to the point of orgasm. My lover and my abuser all at the same time; it’s highly titillating. Invitations to follow the trials of juvenile procreation, the art of “Gym, tanning, laundry,” crowned with the journey of ”real people” bustling through the Hallmark moments of The Real World; there is something for us all on Smut Programming.
Five words awoke me: I Used To Be Fat. Ears perked up, brows shifted into a stance of perplexity, my head tottered in an arc of curiosity. Clicking the link invites me into a world of concussed self confidence, debilitating facades of happiness, ambitions to shed an exterior shell for the holy grail of “optimal weight”, and the loving admiration of drill sergeants riding the latest wave of egg white omelets with a side of steroird-organic compound margaritas. For 5 hours I subject my eyes to the dissection of youth, being verbally assaulted for their active “participation in obesity” in modern America. Over the course of one summer – timespans ranging from 89 days to 104 days – these youth have the honor of “recreating their lives” before they enter university. Morning, noon and night, they learn that the gym is their Valhalla. They profess that “thin will make me happy, make me popular,” that they are unsuccessful in their lives because physically they are “wrong.” Transformations take place, family encourages vanity, it’s the start of a new beginning, of happiness and “control.”
What people neglect to see is the obvious risk each sequence creates: the impending evolution of a rabid eating disorder. Each episode, they declare that a medical professional has been consulted before each taping, that the physical body has been observed and cleared for boot-camp. All is well in the legal world; commence metamorphoses of troubled, unhealthy teens to inspirational young adults wading into the world of “thin is happiness.” What isn’t discussed or explored is the mental implications and severity drilling the term “obesity” into these kids heads will have on their futures. YOU’RE overweight. YOU’RE obese. YOUR life will be better if you change your appearance. Lose weight, feel great– isn’t that how the story goes?
Skinniness is not happiness. Weight loss is not a healthy state of being. Learning to portion your meals can digress into starvation, and most certainly will. Workout schedules can manifest into chronic regimes of physical pain and abuse. Three hours of cardio will evolve into marathons of treadmill sprints and eliptical endurance contests with the voices in your head coaxing you to lose just a bit more. It’s easy to let the cascade take hold, to keep letting the “thin” climax intensify just a bit more. Being thin will not make you happy, it will not make your life easier, and it will not always improve your physical or mental state of being. In essence, you’re just reversing the same state of uncertainty, lack of self confidence and horrors of self-deprecation obesity plagued.
But no one will tell these kids this truth. No one is willing to look past the legal obligations and describe what the ritual of an eating disorder will entail, the risks these boot-camps of “betterment” and “inspirational encouragement” will do to these impressionable minds. No one will care or consider the toll five words will have on these kids: I Used To Be Fat.
You will witness a youth changing her life, encourage her on her journey and provide amorous support via “oooohs” and “ahhhhss”. Perhaps you will become inspired or jealous at their her new physical aura. You will witness what MTV is telling you is beneficial reality, something worthy of tears and exuberance for the vigor these kids are releasing. But what I will witness is the start of an anorexic tendency; learning the scale will produce lies and encourage weight loss. I will see restriction of nourishment, steps leading into starvation. I will see compliments become reinforcement for skin and bones. I will see a mind begin to collapse beyond any semblance of reason and a darkness take hold that will never be consumed by positive light again.
As an anorexic-bulimic entering her 12th year of active disorder, I am witnessing a generation evolving into a toxic mental state. Shows revolving around weight loss need to be throughly explored before being cannibalized by impressionable peers. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and MTV has Satan steering the helm.