Advertisers always try to appeal to our basic human needs. That shiny new car is really all about your status or if it’s a jeep travelling through the desert, it’s about your need for freedom. Cigarette adverts used to promise you glamour, power and sex (until they banned them because they figured out that cancer isn’t glam or sexy).
I was just reading about all this in a blog about minimalist living on the subject of desires and how we consume products and drugs and fashion and gadgets to fulfil fundamental needs, such as security, status and survival. Incidentally this is exactly why the latest advert for Special K ‘Love your jeans again’ shows a woman who has lost weight walking down a staircase into the arms of her approving and admiring women friends.
Fat = lonely
Thin = fitting in and being loved
The said blog, by Leo Babuta, says:
“Desires are manufactured in us, by advertising and marketing. They play on our natural instincts: for hoarding (security), for the pleasures of food and drugs and sex (desire for joy), for fitting in with clothes and bikes and gadgets (desire for friends), and so on.
“Desires like these lead to all kinds of problems — in fact, all the problems of modern society. They are rooted in the immense power of corporations in our society, and their drive for massive profits. Problems result that include obesity and related diseases, massive consumer debt, shallow consumerism, overwork (to make money for all these things), lack of true human connection, and more.”
And he’s absolutely right about that. But one thing that isn’t mentioned, and I’m not going to jump to conclusions about Leo Babuta – well, that’s not really true because I am. I presume that the lovely Leo has the mainstream view about what he calls ‘obesity and related diseases.’ I might be wrong because I like some of his philosophies a great deal, but I think that, like most people, he would be under the impression that people who get fat overeat out of a kind of greed – an inability to control themselves in the face of an abundance of highly palatable food that’s pressed on us by food manufacturers. He is forgiven for this, if he does think this way because there isn’t much information out there that shows any other viewpoint.
In fact, in the mainstream it looks like there is no other viewpoint possible!
But this is a huge myth. An assumption that is widely accepted as fact. There is another truer viewpoint than this.
So what is the other viewpoint?
People eat too much, that’s true and they eat too much to satisfy a basic human need. But that need is not to experience the joy of eating more than they should. Overeating is a normal and natural response to the threat of starvation – and that’s exactly how the human brain perceives a diet. That’s how your brain sees even the thought of a diet! After years of dieting, as soon as the idea of cutting down or eating less enters your head, you’ll be off to the local McDonalds for a supersize burger and fries. And your brain will convince you it’s the right move.
And overweight people think about dieting more than anyone else.
The human need that is being fulfilled by an obese person is to stay alive!
The instinctive drive to survive is the strongest motivator in any human being. So when you think about dieting remember that you’ve got no chance.
Unless you’re one of those people who has a pathological attachment to your image and whose self worth is based entirely on approval and who thinks status is more important than anything else – then your brain sees status as the best route to survival so it will oblige and let you diet as much as you want. You can even starve yourself to death if you like.