It's a truism that poor health puts all mundane worries into perspective, but this story illustrates something more powerful in light of the recent posts on this blog. Worrying about weight is more than just a mundane concern. It represents something more profound about the empty struggles of modern day life.
Ruminating about body and weight is now an acceptable way to vocalize and internalize daily problems. We all seem to have accepted that striving for thinness is necessary for overall success, and not achieving it can undermine any other, more meaningful accomplishments or realities.
The problem with this concern is twofold. First, obsessing about weight and food triggers a deep part of our brains. Food obsession is linked with survival and basic needs of being a biological organism. Watching how food motivates pets is an easy way to prove how ingrained food behavior is in all animals. Once this brain circuit is triggered, it can become all encompassing and have a significant negative impact on daily life.
The second issue is sanctioned starvation, something I have written about extensively in this blog. The diet industry juggernaut capitalizes on our collective desire for weight loss and paints dieting as a prudent way to live. However, the danger of dieting, always followed by compensatory overeating, is to actually precipitate disordered eating and eating disorders.
If there is anything my ill friend pointed out, it's that our obsession with weight loss mirrors our loss of values. We must work hard to figure out what to prioritize in a world constantly vying for our attention. The important things in life need to reflect our own selves, not the demands of industry, vanity or culture. Weight obsession is a manufactured reality intended to capture our minds. Our deeper values can't be drowned out by this endless noise.