Fadulous Fads

I’m totally a fad addict.  I love kitchy little styles that bloom for a few years or even a few months; only to be whisked into unknown darkness shortly thereafter.  I love watching fads bloom and die.  Sometimes I even partake in the insanity.  My current obsession is listening to oldies, songs from the 50s through the 70s (Mack the Knife, Great Balls of Fire, etc).  I grew up obsessed with the color purple (not the book, the actual color), unicorns, mushroom shaped things (I know, strange), bright neon colors, nature water sounds like bubbling brooks, various random movies.  Sometimes they would overlap, giving me a predilection one month for anything related to purple unicorns sitting by waterfalls. 

But in general even I could recognize the small and fleeting fits of fancy for what they were; momentary obsessions with something new, something novel, something pretty and otherwise unknown.   When one little fad was replaced with another, equally silly and equally as powerfully attention-grabbing, I went with the flow willingly. (Unfortunately for those looking to get me gifts this meant that I ended up with unicorn knick-knacks in wrapped boxes long after I had moved on to a calmer acceptance of knowing that unicorns were just cool and not the be-all-end-all best things in the universe).  Some things never stopped being interesting to me (yes, I still think about unicorns from time to time and love the sound of water bubbling over rocks) and some make me laugh to think of my past and the highly distracting level of attention that I gave them (Mushrooms?  Honestly???  What was I thinking???)

One thing that I could never quite wrap my brain around though was the never ending list of fad diets.  The water diet, the grapefruit diet, the no-carbs diet, the all-carbs diet, the bath diet, the Acai Berry diet, the “pick a food and eat all you want of that ONE food” diet, the calorie counting diet, the count fat grams diet, the count carb grams diet, eat at least one bowl of this cereal a day diet, just stay under XXXX calories a day diet, don’t eat sugar diets, take this pill and your fat will “melt away” diets, don’t eat processed foods diets, eat ONLY processed foods so you don’t have to think about cooking your own meals diets….

The list can, I’m sure, go on and on.  And even though they seem like obvious fads now, I will admit to having followed more than one throughout my own life.  The point being that looking at each of these sorts of things with any sort of critical eye or hind-sight, gives me the same laughingly head-shaking response I get when I think back on my own previous little fad obsessions.  I mean, if the Gallery of Regrettable Foods has taught me anything, it is that 20 years from now (or less) we might be amazed to look back and see how we considered food.  And while I still snort when people respond to such fad advice with “Well this is crap, what you REALLY need to do to lose weight is ____insert other stupid advice here; perhaps: Eat less, Exercise More____”; it is good to see at least that some people DO recognize these fads for what they are:  Fads.  And yet people still insist on trying them!  No matter what the understood consequences might be; people are still unerringly drawn in by the latest, greatest pitch trying to sell Thin Beauty to the masses.  Even KNOWING it is a fad that won’t give them the results they desire; even knowing we are playing a shell game with con-masters, we still insist on putting down the money.  I can’t really wrap my brain around this phenomenon! 

Anyone else have any insights into our human tendency to insist on believing that THIS time, with THIS miracle product/plan, weight loss will somehow manifest?  Despite the axiom “Don’t believe everything you hear” people insist that diets and weight-loss will somehow equal better health, in some sort of manic effort to insist that THIS old wives’ tale is the honest truth.  That THIS time, THIS fad, THIS plan will render that 90-98% failure rate obsolete.  Talk about setting yourself up for mental anguish.


6 thoughts on “Fadulous Fads

  1. Maybe it’s because some just can’t give up on that FOBT. They think that something has to work eventually, because if they finally believe that nothing will work to make them permanently thin, then they’ve wasted a lot of time and effort on something that is never going to happen. How many people can really face that fact, and then be able to move on with their lives and learn to be happy as they are? Especially with everything we see and hear all day, every day telling us that if only we followed this plan we too could be thin, beautiful, rich, and have a life that is the envy of every other person out there (which is why it’s a fantasy).

  2. Hmm well put vesta. It likely is tied into the entire fantasy aspect. Giving up on the fads might mean giving up entirely on “Diets to lose weight/gain health/gain love, beauty, money” dreams that are pipe-fed into our lives every moment of every day and that IS a frightening thought…

  3. At one time, I considered doing the fruit and water diet. This consisted of having nothing but water in the morning, then eating a piece of fruit (usually an apple or orange) in the afternoon, with more water, and then eating a light dinner (think salad and one piece of lean meat) with you guessed it—more water. This was advertised on Baltimore’s WBAL website last year, and the women who did this diet complained of headaches, bloating, and constant trips to the bathroom. But it was worth it, because they dropped like 15 lbs in two weeks. Which was probably all water weight! I quickly decided against it.

    Then there was the ice cream diet, and the only ice cream you could eat was fat-free vanilla. Mixing in granola was optional. You ate other things on this diet, basically salad and very lean pieces of chicken or turkey, or cottage cheese. Being anemic, I need iron, so I couldn’t give up my red meat. I didn’t do that diet either. Having headaches, bloating and aching due to anemia is not worth trying to look like Halle Berry.

  4. Wow I don’t think I’d ever heard of the ice-cream diet and I’ve heard of some pretty crazy schemes. Here here for choosing to avoid feeling awful in order to “look good”.

  5. I’m with Vesta – when I was little, I went on that cabbage soup diet (in the interests of full disclosure, I did really end up liking cabbage soup, to this day) with my mom, because we both desperately wanted to believe we could just become the “cool” people instead of the “outsider” people, and were willing to try anything that gave us even the hope of that.

  6. I agree with Vesta, too. I also think the more desperately a person wants to fit in and be average, the more ridiculous things they are willing to try in order to fit in and be ‘acceptable.’

    This is where my parents did me a real service. They knew I was never going to really fit in for a variety of reasons, so they actively encouraged me to be a rugged individualist. Quite honestly, I think they would have done the same had I been completely average and ordinary, but it did help when the kids in my class thought I was completely off my rocker to come home and be praised for the things that annoyed my classmates.

    I may occasionally daydream about being thin and fitting in, but I have always understood that I’m not a fitting in kind of gal, and that I’m actually happier being who I am than trying to be something I’m not. It allows me to hear the diet ads and the talk about the latest ‘miracle’ diet, and go on my way with a shake of my head for the poor souls who will be suckered by the dream.

    I know who I am. I like who I am. It’s hard to make someone feel like they need to change when they already know they rock.

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