An Analysis of Hillel Schwartz's
Historian Hillel Schwartz holds a satirical grudge against the Slender Society of American and most other mainstream cultures. In his book, Never Satisfied, an extensive study of dieting and its sphere of influences, and in particular the final chapter, "Fat and Happy?," Schwartz attacks unexpected sources of obesity: the media, stereotypes, the law, physicians, and dieting itself. He hypothesizes that what goes into someone's head might have more to do with their weight than what goes into their stomach.
In an almost vengeful manner, Schwartz repeatedly blames individuals of all walks of life for producing the fear of being fat, including fat people themselves. He reiterates the disgusting feeling it is to be persecuted by one's own fellow citizens as being labeled "clown, clodhopper, cannibal, or criminal. Blame the kindergarten teachers, the coaches, the friends and physicians who goad fat people into a maze of diets from which they may never return." (487) According to the author, it's these diets that are the real danger. Unnatural, coercive diets can greatly disrupt the body's natural equilibrium. Schwartz adds:
If left alone, 99 percent of human beings will reach a plateau weight, a set point at which their metabolisms will be satisfied and their bodies healthy. It is the dieting, the anxiety, and the perpetual scrimmaging with food that lead to illness.
He goes on to single out physicians as part of the problem, generalizing them as an insensitive sub-culture bent on preying upon patients' fears of disease and death by prescribing them all sorts of pills that further debilitate the system, "dictating diets that are subtle forms of sadism." (490) He struggles, though, to give adequate support for these somewhat obnoxious claims, with a few exceptions. It's his argument about