The sound of silence

Carrie Arnold recently asked: "Seriously, when you don't engage in talk about food/weight/shape, what DO you talk about?"

And I really considered it. What if, starting right now, it simply was not an option to talk about food choices, weight, shape and appearance.

Well, a marvelous silence would blanket the land, certainly. There'd be a lot more eye contact, I think. The TV and radio channels would be silent much of the day and night without talk shows and news spots and commercials selling dieting and the necessity of altering our appearance. Parties would be odd for a while, but we'd adjust. Class reunions... well, no one would go any more because the whole point was to compare notes on aging and diets.

Mealtimes would be companionably silent for a while. The sounds of clinking and chewing and "mmmm" would eventually lead to conversations about other enjoyable things. Food would taste much better.

Supermarkets and food manufacturers would save lots of ink on "FAT FREE!" and "GUILTLESS" labelling. And since we wouldn't all be flailing each other with the virtues of one food over another we might lose the whole section of the supermarket devoted to Foods Replacing the Foods You Really Wanted.

School would be silent for a day, but kids adjust quickly: they'll find creative new ways to insult one another.

The Internet will go dead for a while, absolutely. Without dieting sites and sites staring at celebrities' bodies and fat jokes.... we'd have to go back to using the Internet for science or something.


  1. Wouldn't that be great. Let's try it. The 7 day challenge. Don't talk,listen or read about calories, weight, shape, dieting, exercising.... Could it be done? Would it be catching?

  2. This post made me realize that I *never* talk about weight, shape, etc. What do I end up talking about? Politics. Events in my life. Social things. People-- in a positive way. Beliefs. Causes. Plans. How delicious the food is or isn't. Things I've read, things I've learned. Things I'm speculating. What I'm studying.

    All of these things seem so much more meaningful than the things I talked about back when I wasn't body-positive, food-positive.

  3. I've been shocked to see how much of daily social life and the media have changed since I got sensitized to this issue. I feel apart, really, in some ways. Which is sad.

    But I'm sure this was the same for people who stopped using racist or sexist jokes and language - for a while, it was awkward.

  4. It's about since 5 years now since I made a personal remark about someone's weight, including complimenting them on loss; moaned about how much I hated my body or discussed diets. Or bought a mainstream women's magazine (actually, that's not quite true, occasionally I succumb to the magazines at airports. They are never worth it).

    I'd like to thank my best friend, who has anorexia, for directly leading me to make the conscious decision to do this. I've never thought that Cosmo and the like caused her anorexia, but the fact remains that this constant drip-drip-drip of body hatred is unhealthy for everyone.

  5. It will, Elaine.

    And Lillie, I so agree: it is unhealthy for all of us - sometimes it takes watching a loved one struggle to reconcile this to see just HOW unhealthy WE seem.

  6. This challenge would be a terrific way of embracing Eating Disorder Awareness & Prevention Week this year. I maintain that if I had $1 for every pro-diet, gym, lose weight, get in shape, etc. etc. ad that I hear each year from November through March I would secure retirement. It is pathetic. We know that the media in and of itself does not cause eating disorders however this is a prime example of how it perpetuates the unhealthy paradigm!

  7. I used to have an eating disorder; I never talk about weight, calories, etc., unless one of my daughters complains about her weight or body, and then I say, "You have a nice body shape" or "Your body seems fine to me; it obviously is eating the amount of food you need." What do I talk about? Politics, books, TV, colleges, people (friends and family members), funny things that happened to me today. I'm fortunate to work with people who never talk about weight and calories, either.

  8. I read a lot of 18th & 19th century literature. Back in the day - probably right up until WWII - commenting on what someone ate or how they looked (other than to complement) was rude and impertinent. Somehow, we've lost a bit of the wisdom that the point of social discourse is to make others feel MORE comfortable and at ease, not less.

    My goal is to aim for substantive conversation that makes people feel at ease. Funny light anecdotes at coctail parties. Regaling my friends with my latest "bad travel karma" (oh yes, born under a bad travel sign) story. "That looks delicious" and "You look wonderful". Them's my stories, and I's sticken to them.

  9. Wow. This is a powerful observation. What could we be pre-occupied with if not for bodies and diets? Peace? Prosperity? Happiness? Thanks for a great post!!

  10. what a beautiful post! and i love the idea of the challenge for the eating disorders awareness week.

    i'd definitely like to see this post in the next carnival of eating disorders.


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