A Matter of Choice?


I was waiting in line at the grocery store behind a woman who was thumbing through a magazine and talking on her cell phone.  I was relatively engrossed in a crossword puzzle until I heard her say,

“I am too thin, or I would go in a minute.”

It is rare that I hear someone bemoan their thinness, let alone hearing thinness used in a sentence where it seems to be a deterrent from doing something!  I began shamelessly eavesdropping. 

“I mean it just isn’t fair, if only I was fatter.” Pause….

“Well I suppose I could just gain 30-50 pounds and then try!”

It was almost her turn to check out and she began placing her groceries on the conveyer belt.  Most of her items were recognizable diet foods.  Cottage cheese, celery, reduced-fat popcorn…clearly she wasn’t going to gain 30 pounds with this shopping list.

“I mean it just isn’t right. I’ve been dieting forever and just can’t get thin.  Barb is huge and can just go in there and get it done and now she will be thinner than me.”

She placed a package of Weight Watcher’s blueberry muffins on the counter with just a tad too much emphasis.  The cardboard box crumpled a bit and the belt moved forward.  I felt like a character from CSI or some other detective show as I stealthily began edging closer to her, now unloading my cart, and trying to piece together the clues from just one side of a conversation.

I looked at her face to see if there were signs of sarcasm or mockery. But all I saw was the face of a woman that appeared truly disheartened.

“I know I know, maybe they’ll lower the weight requirement at some point like they did the age.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?”

My stomach sank. Clearly this woman was discussing some kind of Bariatric surgery, and most likely lap band surgery. It was so sad to hear her envy and anger that she was too thin to be a candidate for the surgery when clearly she felt too fat to be happy.

I wanted to put my hand on her shoulder and tell her she was fine just the way she was and that Lap Band Surgery wouldn’t magically transform her into someone that would love her body, even if she attained the magical number on the scale that she was chasing after.

“Do you think insurance pays for it?”  Pause Pause

“Ooops, my turn to pay, see-ya later.”

She hung up the phone and was paying her bill.

Of course I didn’t say anything; I just wasn’t feeling that bold, or intrusive. But obviously the makers of the Lap Band aren’t having a problem with their blatant intrusiveness.  Ads on the radio and giant billboards are proliferating like mushrooms all preaching the virtues of the Lap Band as a way to happiness and self-love.  Their jingle, like chalk on a blackboard, is being played on so many of my favorite radio stations I have called in my complaints and started revisiting my old CD collection.

Then I came across this “political campaign” to end obesity.  Deceptively labeled the CHOICE campaign, it didn’t seem to be offering any choice at all except to fit into one acceptable size category.  I read the call to action more thoroughly, and was outraged to find it was actually an advertisement for Lap Band Surgery cleverly camouflaged and embedded into what appeared to be a political petition writing campaign meant to benefit the public.

Saying this tactic is insidious is an understatement, saying we need to increase our vigilance and awareness is obvious. Getting active is imperative. We really have NO CHOICE. 


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