Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Some thoughts on authenticity and what we call things.

I just completely misread a headline. I read “Has Zen really killed off dieting?” That sounds interesting, I thought. Over the years (too many to number) I have found “zen” interesting, whether it was reading “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” or “Zen and the Art of Drawing” or some other such manifestation. Zen and the art of drawing was perhaps the oddest: look at the object you want to draw, put pencil to paper and start to draw, without removing your pencil from the paper, without looking at the paper, or the pencil for that matter, and let your subconscious brain guide your hand. Some interesting scribbles resulted! 

In this case the headline really read as follows: “Has gen Z really killed off dieting – or has it just changed its name? Goodness! Do I need a very late test for dyslexia? 

Anyway, it has nothing to do with Zen and the art of anything. It’s all about generation Z, millennials, banning the word “diet”. “According to CNN, diet drinks are disappearing from supermarket shelves and being replaced with identical products labelled as “zero sugar”. “Younger people just don’t like the word ‘diet’,” it reported the chief marketing officer at PepsiCo Beverages North America saying at an industry conference last month. “No gen Z wants to be on a diet these days.” Some market research person commented that, ““While the diet designation may be associated with strict regimes or deprivation, the ‘zero’ designation has fewer negative connotations, corresponding with simply a cleaner profile.”

Apparently dieting and calorie counting has been going out of fashion for years. Nowadays it’s all about “cleaner eating” and “wellness” and “body positivity”. But the writer of the article seems to think it’s all kidology and that it’s just dieting under another name! “ “Diet” may have become a dirty word, but dieting is by no means dead – it has just gone into stealth mode.” Maybe so! Weight-watchers and similar organisations still seem to have a lot of customers. 

This brings me to my 18 year old granddaughter’s suggestion yesterday that we should start to go swimming a couple of mornings a week. She wants to be skinny when she goes to university next year and regular swimming would be part of her new regime, along with only having sweet things one day a week - that one day would be designated “treat day”. 

They were talking about exercise on the radio the other day, about our changing attitudes to exercise. Now it is more genuinely about keeping fit. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, back when Jane Fonda’s workout was all the mode, it was all about exercising specifically yo lose weight. In the late 1970s a friend and I used to go to gym, purely for women, where they weighed and measured you as well as organising a specific exercise regime. The lower your weight, the narrower your waist, the slenderer your thighs and arms the better. And, as with aerobics classes, exercise wear was important too. I was positively dowdy in black leotard and tights but much conversation went on about “what a lovely leotard!” and “where did you buy it?” Those were the days. 

Are we any better nowadays with our insistence of “body positivity” and “authenticity”? The latest manifestation of this to annoy is Maureen Lipman getting on her high horse about Helen Mirren playing Golda Meir in a biopic, because Helen Mirren is not herself Jewish. Odd! I rather thought “acting” was all about playing parts that were not actually yourself!

I’m just listening to a radio news report of our prime minister apologising for parties that took place in the Downing Street hardens, specifically the latest revelation being one on the 20th May 2020. Apparently he thought the illegal gathering was a “work event”. That in itself says something about the way “work” seems to be seen in Downing Street. No school staff room I have ever worked in “gathered” for wine at the end of the working day. I doubt if it happens in hospital staff rooms either. We might have occasionally gone to the pub at the end of  Friday afternoon but back in May 2020 that was not allowed either. So it goes!

I wonder how all this will be viewed in 10 or 20 years time.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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