Fear of fat has become a national sickness, an all-American eating disorder: Call it fatnorexia. Where is Uncle Toby from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” lamenting that, under the oncoming reign of Puritan strictures, “there shall be no cakes and ale”?
Something deeper than concern for nutrition and cholesterol is going on here. You don’t have to be a Freudian (I’m not) to see in the antifat crusade a cowering fear of sexuality. The evil of oral pleasure as Satan’s tool of seduction, dating back to Eve, is deeply embedded in American culture. Recall Cotton Mather’s denunciation of the hell-bound wickedness of the pleasures of the flesh and his call for self-mortification (anticipating today’s egg-white omelets).
We live in a culture where food has become a symbol of imminent mortality, where Zagat reviews of high-end steakhouses tediously joke about the need to have “your cardiologist approve in writing,” variations of which are repeated practically every time a piece of meat is mentioned anywhere (“a heart attack on a plate,” “adding insult to arteries” and other super-clever jests).
Indeed. Rosenbaum goes on to suggest we ignore these ninnies and instead go roast a goose. Sound advice.
While we’re on the subject of vice, artist David Hockney has put pen to paper for the Guardian of all places, and produced a wonderful anti-anti-smoking rant which has some currency here in Oz, land of the plain-packaged ciggie:
The aim of the professional anti-smoker is to get rid of it. The press tells us “it’s not acceptable”. Well, it is for 10 million people, who probably don’t all read newspapers and have little to do with the political and media elite. So how come the professional anti-smoker is now an expert in packaging? Have you noticed that marijuana has quite good sales (they tell me) with no packaging whatsoever? Tobacco will be the same. Why does the government only listen to the anti-smokers who obviously natter and natter about it? My father was one of these anti-smokers, and they won’t be happy until it’s gone.
And once it is gone, they’ll come after something else — indeed, they already are, as anyone who likes a good steak or a drink knows. The Prick is not a smoker, and smoking is one of the few activities barred for life to the Little Pricks (the others being tattoos, motorcycles, and voting Green). But when it comes to fighting these modern secular Puritans, we’re all in it together.