This is the season when bathing suits reemerge and force us to consider our bodies in ways we don't while wrapped in tweeds and wool. For many of us, it's diet time. I'm no more willing to eliminate carbs than I am to eat low-fat or, worse yet, think about portion control. This is why I perked up when I saw endorsements of NutriSystem on TV, promising weight loss without denial. Visions of lasagne dance on the screen. Upon closer scrutiny, I saw the problem, and may need to write on behalf of us all:
You never seem to run out of newly downsized people to feature on television and on your website who, without giving up their favorite foods, have lost significant amounts of weight. All Americans believe they have to lose between five and five hundred pounds, so we feel hopeful when you show Dan Marino, who dropped 22 pounds, Mike Golic an amazing 51 pounds, Jim Stucky 60 pounds, and Mary Anne Shula 23 pounds.
Why, even Mary Anne’s little grandson was turned on, telling her, “Granny Mary Anne, you’re looking hot!” My grandmother, or “Baba” as she was known, would never have been dubbed, "hot". Her job was to provide unconditional love and over-cooked brisket. Even if they’d a kosher NutriSystem and she’d lost weight, we wouldn’t have noticed because Baba's shape was indeterminate in her loose-flowing, cotton housedresses with snaps down the front.
My personal favorite among the guys who've trimmed down is the one who announces with glee, “My wife told me I’m not as disgusting as I used to be”! You don't tell us if she whispered this into his ear while they were making love or if she went public at a huge Thanksgiving, family gathering. I'm not known to be overly tactful, yet even I would have said, “I can’t get over how fabulous you look”? You've got to find this woman before she goes up to someone and blurts out, “You were a lot more fun before you were riddled with cancer".
I was particularly interested in the older women, the ones whose last names you withhold, as if they're entitled to the anonymity afforded to recovering foodaholics. Or are we to think that post NutriSystem, they’re as iconic as Cher, Madonna and Hillary, ergo no last names needed? Cara has taken off 30 pounds, Julie is 22 pounds thinner and pleased that at forty years old, she can put on a bikini, but your big success is obviously Aliette, who’s dropped 101 pounds and boasts, “I no longer feel invisible. In fact, I’m getting noticed!” The woman is delighting in being noticed, yet she's the one we don't get to see. Has she tired of getting noticed, or is she still too overweight to move from one room to another without the help of paramedics?
However persuasive these commercials may be -- and I assume they are since they appear almost as frequently as Sally Field pushing Boniva -- I’m not jumping on the bandwagon. You want to know why? Maybe this goes by other viewers, but I've taken note of those tiny letters, almost subliminal, on the screen saying, “*Results not typical”. No high school would boast, “Lisa, Matt and Emily were accepted at Ivy League schools, however, the *results are not typical”. An airline doesn’t advertise, “Our flights arrived safely and on time, however *results are not typical”. We wouldn’t rush to a doctor who says, “I succeeded in saving Jonathan, Tyler and Wendy” but those *results are not typical”.
Most of us are typical, so how about giving us the typical results.