Forget What I Said. Diet Talk Can Totally Forge World Peace.

Note: I just realized (because it was only sent to me last night) that the article in question here is a few months old, and Paul was on it right away. Of course.

We’re all aware of how women who have nothing else in common can spend hours talking about their weight loss efforts and how much they hate their bodies.

And I like to think we’re all aware of how damaging those conversations are to our self-esteem, even if they can feel like something vaguely reminiscent of friendship.

Now, from the Department of Beyond the Pale, comes this news: a documentary filmmaker set out to show that peace could be advanced in the Middle East by getting Israeli and Palestinian women together to talk about their fucking diets.

Says filmmaker Yael Luttwak:

I was really passionate about making this film. I believe in peace. I care a lot about the Middle East. I care about the fact that Israelis and Palestinians are continuously killing each other, and I’d like that to stop. I wanted to see what would happen if we brought them together over something as universal as weight loss — because who doesn’t care about their weight? Could they come together on something as neutral as that?

Is it just me, or does this sound more like a parody of a Miss America contestant than an idea for a documentary?

And how did Luttwak come to have this idea?

I went to Weight Watchers, and I sat in these meetings and I saw these Middle Eastern women — and they’re so full of life and spice. And it’s all so intimate, because weight has so many emotions attached to it. It’s so loaded. There’s success and there’s failure and there’s pain. Then at the same time, in 2000, the peace process broke down — and it’s never been repaired since. So something in my head just connected the two.

“Something in her head” just connected Weight Watchers meetings and peace in the Middle East.

I’m guessing that would be a loose screw.

Also, anyone who criticized me recently for making blanket statements about how dieters so often make everything in the whole entire world about their diets? Can suck it. Exhibit A, y’all.

Thanks to reader Tabitha for the link and Col for the video.

28 thoughts on “Forget What I Said. Diet Talk Can Totally Forge World Peace.

  1. Listen, what are women for if not to let men walk to peace across the backs of their low self-esteem?

    Golda Meir is spinning in her big fat grave.

  2. “You know all that hate you have for each other? Just turn that inward. That’s right. Your ancestors may have been killing each other for years, but look at you… you’re fat.”

  3. Oh, Celeste, that’s easy. Eventually the fat-hate will spread to the men, too, and they will be too calorie-restricted to have the strength to pick the damn things up.

    (I wish I was joking about the logic being employed here, but somehow I think that really is what they’re thinking.)

  4. Yellowhammer, I think you’ve hit on the slogan for this project. “Stop hating each other, start hating yourself!”

  5. Why is it that people seem to think that if we can just grind women further to dust, we can get the men to all love one another? Seriously. The flip side of this would be to encourage Palastinian and Israeli men to get together and gossip about what nags their wives are.

    And I love how the peace process breaking down is linked more to the failings of women than to the failings of the diplomats involved (including diplomats from the current administration).

    Alain, is there room behind that sofa for me?

  6. I’m fucking embarrassed for this filmmaker. I generally like a good documentary, but i’d take an adam sandler movie over this tripe any day.

  7. Yellowhammer, I think you’ve hit on the slogan for this project. “Stop hating each other, start hating yourself!”

    Dammit! That would have been a way better headline.

  8. [i]Listen, what are women for if not to let men walk to peace across the backs of their low self-esteem?[/i]

    god, seriously. I remember seeing the trailer for this online a while ago and not being able to quite believe it. it was heartbreaking, really; totally beautiful, lively women slowly deflating as they discussed their self-hatred. it made me kind of want to throttle the filmmaker (who was asking them leading questions about the “story” behind their bodies.)

  9. but unfortunately so many smart women fall prey to the thing that Kate opens her post discussing, the bonding through dieting talk thing. I just had the epiphany this weekend that more than chiding me about my body or trying to change me, my mom just wants to connect with me when she compulsively tells me about the latest change to her way of thinking (obsessively) about food. it’s depressing that that’s her go-to way of reaching out.

  10. I think it’s the way of many women, trying to reach out. It’s like the proverbial olive branch, which has now morphed into a celery stick (but don’t eat it!). Sadly, when you are a woman who chooses NOT to engage in diet talk, calorie counting, and self deprecation when amongst a group of women, YOU’RE the one who’s viewed as aloof or snooty. The women in my office think i’m a bitch, because i just won’t engage in their open discussions of self denial. It’s this weird conundrum of “she thinks she’s better than us because she doesn’t hate herself, but i hate myself, so she must hate me too, especially if she doesn’t hate herself…. ” or some such nonsense.

  11. it’s a thing that I’ve had a change of heart about recently enough that I remember what it was like to feel like I couldn’t help but engage in that kind of talk. I remember, before I let that shit go, a friend of mine saying that she’d decided to just stop talking about how other women’s bodies had changed/dieting/skinniness with other women. And I was admiring but I literally could not imagine being able to do the same thing myself. like in some weird way obsessive diet talk was the agent and I was its helpless tool. anyway.

  12. *Headdesk* *Headdesk* *Headdesk*

    See… I thought it was bad that an article claimed that fat hatred is innate, but what the hell? I don’t have an anti-diet mentality, but this is a prime example of the times when I do oppose it: When you think dieting/weight loss is going to solve all of your problems.
    OMGZ ITZ GOING TO PASS MY TESTS FOR ME!
    ITZ GOING 2 END THE WAR ON TERROR!!
    ITZ GOING TO INCREASE MY RESALE VALUE ON MY HOME!
    ITZ GOING TO GET ME MORE IN TUNE WITH GOD! Especially cuz jezuz wuz thin… dat makes me a saint lolz…….
    And i’m expected to side with this because OMGZ I IZ THIN. *Smacks Forehead*

    This should be an entry on some list titled “You know you’re a part of a moral panic when….”

  13. It’s like the proverbial olive branch, which has now morphed into a celery stick (but don’t eat it!).

    Madge, this cracked me up.

  14. It’s this weird conundrum of “she thinks she’s better than us because she doesn’t hate herself, but i hate myself, so she must hate me too, especially if she doesn’t hate herself…. ”

    That cracked me up, too. Madge wins at funny today.

  15. No, no, Madge–you *should* eat the celery, because eating it burns more calories from you take in from it! Just remember, it should be plain and tasteless–no ranch or peanut butter–because if you actually enjoy food, then it’s not good for you anymore. The Fun Fairy comes and sucks all the nutrients and fiber out of it.

    But yeah, absolutely–when you run into another woman, it’s considered almost obligatory to engage in the “You look so great, have you lost weight?”/”No, I’ve totally gained, I’m fatter than ever! You look great, though,”/”No, *you* look great, I’m a cow,” exchange that reassures everyone that we all feel like crap about ourselves. If you think that you look awesome, or even just okay, then you’re vain or kidding yourself or a bitch. If you engage in the cycle of self-hatred, you get the reassurance that “no, no, *I’m* the one with thunder thighs, you look great!”, but to get that positive response you have to first a) express self-hatred and b) listen to somebody else express self-hatred in order to build you up. It’s a pretty shitty cycle all around; can’t we all just feel good about ourselves and each other?

  16. Wow. There’s an old saying (i forget who originally said it, and i’ve seen it attributed to any number of sources) that the best way to make people stop fighting at home is to give them a common foreign enemy.

    The idea that our BODIES should be that enemy?

    Um.

    Eek.

    *grabs her blankie and hides under the bed*

  17. Dieting… it’s a dessert topping, it’s a floor wax! It’s a global socio-political strategy.

    I’m just starting a new job, in a department that is like 90% female. It was about an hour into my second day when the first diet talk came floating in my door, someone talking about how they could put low-fat flavored coffee creamer in their coffee because it only had 15 calories per bucket or something. And I realized: I have been mostly safe from professional-arena diet talk for years, since I was a private practice therapist and an independent contractor graduate instructor, but here I am expected to fit in and be part of the culture and a team player, and the first time I say “actually, I don’t diet…” is going to be INTERESTING. For some value of the term.

  18. How is tying the women up talking about fat going to get the guns out of the mens’ hands?

    Well, duh, silly! As a result of the magnificent precedent set by this visionist film maker, all the women in the Middle East will instantly bond, lose scads and scads of evil unsexy fat…and, once they see how skinny they’ve become, all the men will instantly drop their guns and want to get with their laydeez instead of shooting each other.

    See, it’s only the sexual frustration that caused them to pick up the guns in the first place. Or. Um. Y’know. Something.

  19. Oh, of course, buffpuff! This is the opposite of Lysistrata! The skinnifying of the Middle East will end war with SEXINESS!

    I’ve been so blind.

  20. Oh. My. Effing. God.

    I used to think it was me that didn’t “fit in” with the rest of the world.

    Now I know it’s the rest of the world that’s the problem.

  21. “the first time I say “actually, I don’t diet…” is going to be INTERESTING. For some value of the term.”

    I’ll never forget the look of absolute horror and confusion on my uncle’s face when I said that that to him. It was his own fault for trying to guilt-trip me out of eating a chocolate profiterole.

  22. Obviously this is an extremely depressing concept that sort of makes me want to beat up the filmmaker (Lindsay–as to our bodies becoming the common enemy… you are so right and it is so chilling), but at the moment I will avoid having to ponder this any further by laughing at Elusis’s “15 calories per bucket” comment. Hahahahahaha!

  23. The flip side of this would be to encourage Palastinian and Israeli men to get together and gossip about what nags their wives are.

    HA! thanks for that. i needed a laugh after the horror and idiocy of the article.

  24. Hi, Thanks for commenting about the film, A SLIM PEACE.
    I co-produced and directed the film.
    Thought important to write in and to let you know that the film and the program in no way promotes dieting.
    It is a program about having a holistic approach to our bodies and ourselves.
    Bringing together women from conflict-zones for healthy living is not promoting self-hatred.
    Since you are commenting on an excerpt be happy to invite you to see the entire film. Will be in festivals & broadcast in the US.

    Yael

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