Opinion: A new year, a new you!

Gregory Porter

I’m sure you’ve seen the messages being spread across billboards, television commercials, newspapers, online advertisements, fast food cups, sidewalks and any other means of getting to you that the advertising agencies can think of. I even recently found an advertisement tucked in between the pages of a book I bought from Borders: “A New Year, A New You!” The message is abundantly clear: “2010 sucked for you right? 2011 is the time to stop sucking and be awesome! Be a thinner, more interesting, sexier, all-together better YOU!” Right? Am I right? Of course I am, but that’s not exactly the point.

Every year, I feel bombarded with ads telling me that I need to lose weight, exercise more, that my heaviness is obviously a sign that I’m not an active enough person or that I’m simply lazy or gluttonous, or maybe both. If I am to take the advertisements literally, the only important thing in life is to be thin, sexy and attract similar people. Moreover, according to these ads, diet and exercise aren’t enough. You need to take pills, diet drops, get plastic surgery, gastric bypass, consume ungodly amounts of Tabasco sauce and vinegar, stop eating fruit, stop eating meat, stop eating starches, bread is bad for you now, never mind it’s fine, oh wait it’s bad for you again. Dairy is fattening, but you need that kind of fat. It’s all a little bit too much to take.

I’m a big guy, sure, and if I were to dress as Waldo it wouldn’t exactly take long to find me. Still, I am comfortable with my body and how I look. I have always been a large

For more information about healthy eating and body image, check out the following websites:

Dr. Oz at RealAge.com

Body image at Womenshealth.gov

Healthy weight loss at Helpguide.org

guy. I’m 6 feet 2 inches tall, and with weight added to my big frame, I’m by no means what American society considers “sexy.” Does it matter, though? I’ve never had a terribly hard time procuring dates because what one person considers attractive is so very, very subjective.

I don’t try to be heavy, and I’m not exactly trying to be thin either, but my body is wired to be this way. A quick glance at my extended family will support that notion. I could eat the exact same thing as a thin person every day and not lose a single pound. Trust me, I’ve tried. All the South Beach Diet did was leave me lethargic and hungry. I don’t eat unhealthily on a daily basis, so why change my lifestyle to suit the needs of someone else?

My point being, advertisements about weight loss hit a soft spot (no pun intended) with Americans. These ads often promote destructive means of achieving a particular body size that most people are entirely incapable of achieving in the first place.

According to recent studies by Marketdata Enterprises, the United States obesity epidemic fuels a 55 billion dollar industry that, for the most part, helps nobody but the weight loss industries themselves.

The newest craze in weight loss supplements come in the form of a liquid drop that one places under his or her tongue. These drops, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) Diet Drops, have been reported by many satisfied customers to really assist in weight loss. The product description on Amazon boasts that these drops increase metabolism in men and women. According to an article on realage.com by Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz, however, the health risks of this diet supplement may outweigh the benefits. The article states that in women, ovarian cysts and blot clots may occur, and due to the fact that hCG affects fertility, it may also result in surprise pregnancies. It continues to state that in men, hCG causes rapid testosterone production which, in excess, can result in the development of breasts.

If you’re looking to lose weight in the new year, especially after excessive holiday eating, be smart and don’t fall into dieting fads and, for the love of all that is holy, don’t pay attention to advertisements trying to push society’s image of what’s “hot or not” upon you.

My suggestions will always be to learn to love your body the way it is, eat intelligently and work out daily. You can be heavy and healthy; those two are most certainly not mutually exclusive.

Gregory Porter is a junior visual communication design major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].