Audrey and Sophie Boss, inventors of dieting concept Beyond Chocolate, discuss their dieting history. Sophie confesses, “I couldn’t take medicine so I couldn’t do the amphetamines thing, and I couldn’t stick my fingers down my throat.” I can relate: my miserable failure to develop a drug habit or eating disorder has left me wallowing around in a pool of my own fat, unable to rouse myself to do anything more than blob along to the kitchen now and then to guzzle wicked, sinful food. But if Sophie can’t even manage to do a basic thing like suppress her appetite with speed or make herself vomit after eating, how can we trust her to give us dieting advice?
Yes, it turns out Sophie had a road-to-Damascus moment when she discovered the groundbreaking principles behind Beyond Chocolate: “I went headlong into doing this stuff, eating when I was hungry and stopping when I’d had enough.” Woah! Eating when hungry? Stopping when full? This kind of complex strategic genius deserves more analysis — perhaps a book and a website to milk cash from depressed women with eating disorders?
“I could do that as a diet, but I couldn’t make it part of my life — I thought, I need support.” Sophie, Sophie. Many things in life, from middle eastern peace deals to divorce, are very difficult and need support to implement. But if eating when you are hungry is one of them, you are in pretty serious trouble.
Apparently, so are a lot of other women — in one of Audrey and Sophie’s workshops, they helpfully inform a rapt audience, “The hunger signals that our bodies give out are as clear, as strong, as specific as the need to go and do a wee.” I was going to write a joke about that, but then I got distracted and wet myself. Or did I eat a biscuit? I can’t tell.
Beyond Chocolate is peddling a common idea, that all you need to do to get thin and happy is rediscover your natural desires. I have bad news: eating only when you want to eat will not make you thin. That is why professional anorexics like Jennifer Aniston are on about as many calories per day as a concentration camp inmate. Similarly, fucking only when you really want to will not make you a nonstop sexual athlete, any more than exercising only when you feel like it will make you an Olympian. We ignore our real desire not because we’re not aware of it, but because female desire is often kind of socially inconvenient.
Guess what XXRay Specs’ favourite solution to feeling shit about yourself is? That’s right: feminism! OK, feminism won’t make you thin either, but it will make you less likely to spend money on stupid dieting advice.