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The Dieting Game

A sad fact in American society is that thousands of people search for the elusive dream of being thin. On any given day, one finds neighbors, friends, and relatives on some kind of diet. Dieters assume various disguises, but the noteworthy ones are the "bandwagoneer," the "promiser" and the "lethal loser."

Everyone wants to lose weight quickly and effortlessly; therefore, any fad diet promising overnight results becomes the new "call" of the "bandwagoneer." She tries the grapefruit diet or the watermelon diet, but she decides her stomach cannot possibly deal with all of that fruit. The next day the television advertises a new wonder pill that allows the user to lose up to ten pounds in one week, and the "bandwagoneer" answers the "call." Although the magic pill does not produce the desired weight loss, she never gives up hope for a new "wagon" to hitch onto. Once again, this dieter is lured by advertisements of instant spot reduction--liposuction. She crosses over the safety line into a danger zone of unknown procedures, performed by unqualified physicians. Some dieters lose their lives in the search for a beautiful body. The stomach staple is another dieting tool that dieters try. The staple yields a large weight loss, but the dieter endangers her health because of excess loss of body fluids. The "bandwagoneer" is always listening for the newest cure on the dieting market.

A family wedding or a special dance is a logical reason for a woman to decide it is time to take off her few, unwanted pounds; however, decisions made in haste are hard to keep, and the "promiser" soon fails in her attempt. She is the dieter with only fifteen pounds to lose, and, as each year flies by, she decides dieting is harder than eating what she wants to, and much less fun! She promises to lose the extra weight for her ten-year class reunion, but her weight-loss pledge is not kept. Some women become "promisers" during their pregnancies, and they broadcast to all within hearing distance that they will lose the extra pounds as soon as the baby is born. The "tomorrow promiser" and the "Monday promiser" are the dieters with whom most people are familiar and whose excuses they know. The "promisers" are always starting their diets tomorrow, after one last, scrumptious dinner--their favorite meal of course! The "Monday promiser" can last through lunch, but by dinner she cannot take her hunger pains any longer. She decides there is always another Monday; furthermore, she eats all week, like a bear preparing for winter hibernation, in preparation for her Monday fast. One is not fooled by the "promiser" but saddened that her attempts at weight loss are unsuccessful.

The most tragic dieters in American society are the "lethal losers," young women following a self-destructive path. Characteristically, this dieter is a young woman with low self-esteem from a middle income family . While in her teens, the young lady decides to shed some unwanted pounds, and, much to her surprise, she loses the extra weight quickly. She attends a party with friends, overeats on junk food and decides to "rid" her body of the excess food by purging in the bathroom; thus the "deceiver" is born. From that moment on, she thinks she is in control of her "new found" diet, but the ultimate "deceiver" is her diet. She sneaks large quantities of food for midnight snacks, and she does not care what she eats, only that she satisfies the yearning deep inside her soul. She faces the beginning of the downward turn of her diet--the binge and purge cycle. Ultimately she loses touch with reality and is treated by a physician in a hospital. The "deceiver" has a companion who is, much like herself, another deadly player in the dieting game. This dieter analyzes the calorie content of every morsel of food on her dinner plate and decides whether or not to eat it; usually she does not, but quietly excuses herself from the table to return to her room. She has lost all sense of the value of food for her body, and she cannot see what she has become--a "sad scarecrow." A scarecrow gains nourishment from her straw stuffing, and the "sad scarecrow" needs food to hold her body together. But this dieter cannot see the "straw" she leaves on the ground when she turns her head away from food; she is beyond all reasoning. Innocently enough, the "deceiver" and "sad scarecrow" start their diets with good intentions; however, along the way some mechanism is triggered, and the "lethal losers" are awakened; their lives are never the same.

All dieters share a common goal, losing weight, but they approach the goal from many different sides. The importance of the dieting game is not the goal, but how one decides to get there. The dieter can choose life or death in her quest for a thin body.

--Harriet Murray

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