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Nicholson '12.5: A weighty issue


I went to Disneyland this winter break and was shocked by what I saw. Sure, there were plenty of obese children, deep-fried dough and Mickeys made in China. But of course that was to be expected. The real shocker of the evening: an organic food stand. Pineapple skewers at the happiest place on earth? Certainly a sign of an impending apocalypse. Sure, there was only one healthy stand to every 50 selling churros. But even on my one-hour drive home, I counted more than 10 "get thin fast" billboards. Is the self-proclaimed "fast food nation" changing its ways?

What gives, America? Am I the only one who watched the Golden Globes and couldn't help but question stick-thin Megan Fox's status as a "sex symbol" of our time?

Just this morning, I read a very clever article on calling out the alien population in blockbusters for its ever-shrinking waistlines. The Ivy Room sells health food and there is a farmers' market on Wriston Quadrangle. The once-spiritual practice of yoga has become an exercise regime for hot moms, and Glenn Beck is on a diet. It's official: America has become weight-obsessed.

All this comes within a week of Walmart's announcement last Thursday of its commitment to "provide its customers with healthier and more affordable food choices." By reducing the cost of fresh food and packaged healthy snacks, the corporation hopes to inspire other multinational companies to follow its lead. Of course,

Walmart's pledge to promote healthy eating has been met with mixed reviews. Many question its effectiveness and subsequent consequences for farmers. Some, on the other hand, including First Lady Michelle Obama, commend the much-vilified corporation for taking a step in the right direction. Walmart's promotion of healthy lifestyles indicates one thing for sure: thin is in.

It's been roughly five years since "Super Size Me" and Us Weekly's obsession with Nicole Richie's waistline. It's been almost twenty years since Kate Moss modeled for Calvin Klein, thirty since Jane Fonda's exercise tape made it big, forty since the late, great Jack LaLanne invented his Power Juicer and more than a half-century since Lord Northbourne first applied the word "organic" to food. All this time has passed, and only today has corporate America begun to respond. What was once considered a niche market has become the status quo. Americans have spoken, and they want healthier options.

Since the financial crisis, these big businesses have been vilified for being opportunistic. Today, however, corporations are becoming increasingly health-conscious. Coca-Cola has announced a plan to begin selling "healthy soda." Even McDonald's has begun selling apples and oatmeal.

Nevertheless, one cannot help but question the authenticity of the corporate trend towards promoting healthy lifestyles. Sure, it's only timely that these large companies begin to do their part, but perhaps there is more to the story. Perhaps the movement has gotten big enough for corporations to take notice. Perhaps the health craze has gained enough critical mass that these large companies can't afford not to tweak their products. Perhaps these humanity-friendly initiatives are just another market angle to get us to buy the same products over again, but with a twist. Perhaps organic food, green products and the like are just another way to get people to consume at the same levels as before and not feel guilty about it… Or perhaps not.



Lorraine Nicholson '12.5 is a literary arts concentrator from Los Angeles, Calif.



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