Why Sickeningly Sweet?

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The world's 1,003,987th wellness blog

What do I have to say that's not already been said? 

I, like many, have not had a smooth relationship with food. My mother and grandmother grew up in a time where there was tremendous pressure on a woman to be petite, stylish, effortless and graceful above all else. When this pursuit proved difficult, as it always will because it is a task that is designed for women to fail, they turned to diets. These diets promised them everything they ever wanted: quick and easy weight loss that would solve all of their existential problems, while also not answering one huge overarching question; "Why the fuck do we need women to be so skinny in the first place?"  Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, the Zone Diet, Balance Diet, Type 2 diet, low fat, high carb, low carb, high fat, Slim-Fast shakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I could go on. Any diet that promised women The Perfect Body, they tried it, and I watched them try it. As a child, I spent years studying the many ways in which women are taught that they are constantly living in a state of needing to change something about themselves. Wherever they were, they could be always be thinner, and the weight loss mavens would help them get there. I eventually turned this analysis in on myself, and decided that as a first-grader, my body was too large and needed to change. While I was technically overweight and could have probably thrived more if I lost weight, as a ten year old with an underdeveloped understanding of the world, I didn’t want to be thinner because I thought I would physically feel better if I were healthier. I wanted to be skinnier because that is what I was taught would make me worthy.

 While I am a child of diets and was sadly very aware at a young age that I "needed" to be thinner, I was also the sugar industry's perfect target. As early as I can remember, I was obsessed with sugar, and how couldn't I be? I remember being obsessed with ads for snacks that were packed full of sugar. Gushers, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, any of those juice boxes that were infused with vitamin C (for our health!) yet had pounds of sugar in each serving. Watching them made me feel like I was riding a roller coaster. They promised me energy, excitement, exhilaration. How could sugar be bad? The people in the ads looked so... happy. I'm older now and have studied the ways that marketing and corporate control work, and I now know that this is exactly what the advertisers wanted out of me. They wanted to sell me a promise, and they promised me that sugar equaled happiness. And as a sugar addict and former binge eater, I fully believed this promise until very recently. So much of my life has been spent stuck in this vicious cycle: I didn’t feel worthy because I believed I was fat, so to relieve these feelings I sought out temporary comfort from sugar, which would further distance me from the goal of being a Skinny Girl. And repeat.

 In addition to my battles with weight loss, I have also come to examine the ways in which our broken society plays a part in all of this. Now more than ever, we can see how individuals are treated as consumers to be targeted and manipulated. Highly processed foods, high sugar diets, and food that is completely devoid of any real kind longlasting of nourishment is all around us. It is miles easier to find food that will give you a chemical high that soothes loneliness and depression (if only for a moment) than it is to find food that has any kind of long-term emotional and physical wellness in mind.

We are in a state of total confusion about what to do about this. While corporate control is looking like it’ll never leave the throne, and sugar is already so ingrained into the American story that there might be no turning back, and although none of us have the answer, we are attempting to heal ourselves. Sickeningly Sweet is intended to be a channel for us to examine this confusion. If we take a look at any of our health statistics, we can see that our world's nutrition is failing us. If we look at lower income neighborhoods, we’d see that the health of our poor populations is absolutely not a priority. If we take a look at how much contradictory information there is about how to live The Healthiest Lifestyle and Be the Most Gorgeous We Can Be, we see a society that faces complete and utter confusion about what to do. We are in chaos, we are in crisis. We don't know how to eat, exercise, dress, take care of our emotions, so we are constantly looking at each other for answers. And we don’t know shit.

So I promise no answers. The people I interview promise no answers. The facilities that I visit promise no answers. But we can at least promise that we will live in this confusion together towards a happier, healthier life that is based on truth and not bullshit.

Maggie Mullins