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I keep meaning to write down rant topics as I think of them, so I'll never be out of ideas when Tuesday night rolls around.

Of course, I keep meaning to organize the comic collection, brush the cats every night, find a fool-proof system of recipe storage, and go through all 300+ pages of game write-ups on this site to fix the typos, too.

One thing that has been bothering me lately is how impossible it is to go a day without being reminded of this country's neurotic approach to food and our bodies. There's a billboard near our apartment, I think it's for Nutri-Grain granola bars; their current tagline is "Respect yourself in the morning," and the ads show people with sticky buns or strudels or donuts, what have you, attached to or superimposed on their figures to remind you of the consequences of indulgence.

Now, you may question the likelihood of massive strudels growing out of anyone's hips, and well you should. I'm finishing off a bag of mint Milano cookies as I type this page up, and I have every intention of respecting myself in the morning.

That's only one side of the coin, though, since on a weekly basis we are also reminded of America's skyrocketing obesity rates. Too many bags of mint Milanos will indeed have consequences, and they can be serious ones, but should those consequences include loss of self-respect?

I keep coming back to the fact that in our culture, we don't seem to know the meaning of the word moderation. We either indulge to excess or we deprive ourselves of things we enjoy (maybe there are people out there who think a Nutri-Grain bar is just as good as a sticky bun, but I seriously doubt it). We are encouraged to feel ashamed of ourselves if we fail to attain the ideal, and encouraged to behave in ways that make it quite certain that we will never even come close.

I remember taking an aerobics class in college. I was the only person in the room who was actually overweight. I stood in the back.

There doesn't even seem to be any way to have an opinion on the issue without appearing judgemental, controlling, or downright mean, even with the best of intentions. Externals aren't important, right? Where is the "moderate" point between obsessing and not caring? When does it cross the line from worrying about our society's level of health to worrying about our society's looks?

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Except where otherwise noted, all material on this site is © 2003 Rebecca J. Stevenson