I do not wish to be the type of person who slowly, sadly shakes his head, pining for a simpler past, longingly opening conversations with “When I was a kid…” Moreover, when I become aware of an unfortunate societal trend, I try to prevent cranking up my inner curmudgeon, cynically inquiring of my peers, “What has gone wrong with our society?”
Having said that, something has gone wrong with our society because — when I was a kid — brides-to-be didn’t shove tubes up their noses to lose weight before their weddings.
While skimming TV channels, images of young women commuting to work with feeding tubes hanging from their noses flitted across the screen. They didn’t seem ill; quite the contrary, they looked to be “in the pink” (yet another reference from “when I was a kid”). The reporter explained that some women with upcoming nuptials are resorting to a severe calorie-restricted crash diet to drop ten to 20 pounds in the two weeks prior to their big days. That unto itself is not newsworthy; long before “I was a kid,” I imagine women (and even some men) resorted to last minute diets in order to present their best in front of friends, family, and God.
What was exceptional was that, in these cases, the method of choice consisted of consuming only 800 calories a day, delivered in the form of shakes served through a medically implanted feeding tube threaded through the woman’s nose, down the esophagus, and into her stomach. The tube remains in place ten days and the procedure costs about $1,500. Side effects include bad breath, constipation and dizziness. (Nothing says, “kiss the bride” like halitosis.) The doctor performing the procedure said, “At first I decided not to do it for people who just want to lose a few pounds. But then I thought, why should I say five or ten pounds are not enough? People want to be perfect.”
As long as there has been belly fat, there have been odd and controversial get-thin-quick schemes.
Yet, this is beyond the pale.
First of all, restrict your daily intake to 800 calories and it makes no difference whether you consume carrots, cottage cheese, or cognac. You’ll have no choice but to drop several pounds a week. That doesn’t mean it’s healthy, and it belies the bigger question: What is it with this unattainable, unrealistic goal of achieving “perfection?” It’s a fantasy state that remains forever out of reach; its pursuit generates self-loathing, frustration — and in cases like these — possible medical complications.
I’m not saying show should show up to the wedding in ratty PJ pants and bunny slippers, but if they’re doing it for their husbands, be assured that any groom not overjoyed with the appearance of his bride as she comes down the aisle better not be standing next to her in front of the preacher. That marriage is doomed from the get-go, whether she’s a size three or a size 16.
Beyond that, it’s sad that the pressure to be “perfect” is so pronounced that otherwise healthy women feel such self-deficiency that they choose to live with a feeding tube shoved up their nostrils and a sack of protein-rich formula attached to their person. They are hunting for happiness that will not be found.
Ironically, if they re-directed that money to themselves — or even their honeymoons — they would remember the results more fondly, and far longer, than whether they were a size seven or a five when they said, “I do.”
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