A diet that tells the truth about diets
If you want the unvarnished truth about what the rest of the diet industry will only hint at, then Venice Fulton’s Six Weeks to OMG is a great place to start. Photo: Getty
An ice-cold bath on waking, followed by two cups of black coffee without sugar and half-an-hour of exercise and then nothing more to eat until midday. It sounds like the beginning of a horror story from the Gulag, but no, this is the advice doled out by Venice A Fulton in his runaway bestselling diet book Six Weeks to OMG.
And I for one congratulate him for having the courage to write a diet book that finally tells the truth — just not the truth about diets, weight loss or anything remotely resembling good health or good sense.
Six Weeks to OMG lays bare the bitter truth about diets and the diet industry: the way it thrives off poor body image, its boundless narcissism, the militant anti-social individualism and the attempt to both claim the authority of science while at the same time trashing existing scientific knowledge.
While the rest of the diet industry subtly induces body dissatisfaction through an endless stream of unattainable success stories and improbable footage of people frolicking in bikinis, Fulton doesn’t mince words in making you feel rotten.
‘Many will state that you don’t need any help’, writes Fulton. ‘They might say that, “you’re fine as you are”, diets are unhealthy, or repeat the classic, “it’s just puppy fat”. Guess what, YOU’RE NOT A PUPPY! Are they right about the other stuff?
Fulton openly says what the rest of the diet industry will only hint: no matter what size you are, or what you’ve been told, you’re too fat.
And where the rest of the diet industry wrap their products and services in upbeat messages about lifestyle and quality of life — while hypocritically using appearance as the sole measure of people’s worth — Fulton at least has the honesty to openly pitch to our basest motives.
Losing weight is all about competitive one-upmanship; the subtitle of the book being ‘Get skinnier than all your friends’. As Fulton breezily writes ‘We need friends. I mean who else are we going to show off to!’
But Fulton has a health message. For him, the words ‘skinny’ and ‘healthy’ are interchangeable.
This overlooks the small fact that on average skinny people actually die younger than fat people. In her book Health At Any Size, obesity researcher Dr Linda Bacon reveals that mortality rates show people with overweight and normal BMIs live longer than those with underweight BMIs. And with advice like ‘Movement does not work after meals…Do it before or don’t bother,’ it’s clear that the book has little to do with health and everything to do with getting as skinny as possible as quickly as possible.
Where other players in the diet industry pay lip service to the complex social and environmental factors that increase obesity rates, and blithely ignore them when it comes to offering ‘solutions’, Fulton skips the pretense, simplistically reducing everything to the individual.
‘‘There’s no limit on how much fat you can lose...everyone, and that means e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e, can be skinny. Yes, skinny,’ he writes.
The reality is a little more complex. If obesity were simply an individual phenomenon, then you would reasonably expect the obese to be spread pretty evenly across the country. But that’s not the case. Rather, obesity in Australia — and other countries — closely follows income.
If you’re poor then you’re more likely to be obese. Research published in 2007 by Associate Professor Dr Jenny O'Dea found that around 9 per cent of children from low-income families were obese, compared to about 4 per cent of children from posher suburbs.
Of course, with their mantras of ‘You Can Do Anything!’ and ‘It’s All A Matter of How Bad You Want It‘, the idea that social class might have something to do with obesity is scandalous.
If there is one area where Fulton and the rest of the diet industry are at one it is in their efforts to claim the mantle of scientific credibility, while at the same time trying to discredit current science and medical practitioners. Fulton claims that his book is based on science while also questioning whether ‘geeks’ should be believed or if doctors are sufficiently qualified to give advice on weight loss or exercise.
In addressing the small point the he doesn’t actually have any proof that his weight loss strategy works he tells readers that waiting for proof takes too long. ‘Geeks’, he says, ‘can afford to relax. After all, lab coats are great at hiding thighs of any size.’ (Although, discrediting scientists based on their thunder thighs does tie in nicely with the overall theme of the book that fat people have nothing of value to contribute.)
If you want the unvarnished truth about what the rest of the diet industry will only hint at, then Venice Fulton’s Six Weeks to OMG is a great place to start. If you want a guide to healthy living and self-esteem that doesn’t come from the size label on your jeans, then look elsewhere.
Kasey Edwards is the author of Thirty-Something and the Clock is Ticking (Random House) and the forthcoming Kill the Fat Girl: A Girl's Own Manual to breaking free of bad body image and living a full life.