This I Believe

Casey - Kennesaw, Georgia
Entered on December 13, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: illness

I believe our society does not know what food is. From vending machines to weight-loss pills, our dietary choices are a series of dangerously unhealthy contradictions that have thrown our well-being into a downward spiral. One half of us is inhaling a Big Mac and fries, while the other is popping Ex-Lax and Cortislim.

Food used to be sustenance, but now it is an obstacle. For many people, eating is a mask behind which they hide their feelings or fears. For others, eating is an addiction they cannot overcome. The sweet smells of hot cookies and cinnamon buns entice them, as do the Hershey’s bars in the nearest vending machine. It’s so much more convenient to grab breakfast, lunch, and dinner at fast food restaurants than it is to make one’s own food. Couple these factors with our society’s aversion to exercise, and we have a major obesity problem on our hands.

Various members of my family belong in this obese group. As a family, we have always come together over food, from the annual Thanksgiving turkey to the bi-monthly birthday cake. For this reason, several of my aunts and uncles are morbidly obese. One of my aunts can barely walk anymore. Even breathing is difficult for her because of her weight. It makes me miserable to think she is killing herself with my birthday cake and ice cream.

For others, eating is an evil, something to be avoided at all costs. It is heart-wrenching how many young women have eating disorders today. Cross country is one of the sports with the highest percentages of anorexic or bulimic athletes, and I have personally known girls who would skip meals or throw them back up in an effort to stay thin. One of my roommates at cross country camp was a size-0 bulimic. It is devastating to see a girl waste her talent while wasting away. What these runners don’t realize is they will improve their times by eating healthy food and gaining muscle, not starving themselves into nonexistence.

What we need today is a happy medium, somewhere between obesity and anorexia. Somewhere between sleep apnea and amennhorea. Somewhere between stuffing oneself and starving oneself. It’s a fine line, and one we, as a society, have apparently yet to find among the mess of stick-thin celebrities and fast food dynasties. But I believe this medium exists, and I believe we can see it if we only change our viewpoint.