Wed, Feb 21, 2018 05:13 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-08-22 communities
Smile Awhile
Looking Good
Sara Hopson
Recently, you may have noticed that nearly all the infomercials and every other news documentary is geared to the American pastime of looking good. And since the number one aspect of looking good is connected with a desirable body image, weight loss has become one of the biggest businesses going today. It seems there are as many diet regimens as there are fast-food chains.

Just turn on your television set and you will immediately be bombarded with diet plans, beauty creams and exercise equipment that expound on ways to make yourself more attractive, not just to the opposite sex, but to the world in general.

When it comes to fulfilling their beauty obsessions, people will go to any extremes. French actress Anna Held, who was once married to the famous Flo Ziegfeld, probably obsessed over and created the most unusual figure of all times. Her principle claim to fame was the most dramatic hour glass figure ever to appear on stage or screen. After experimenting with crash diets, she actually had her lower ribs surgically removed to preserve her 18-inch waistline at age 45. But that wasn't enough for her because when she suddenly passed away in 1918, it was due to internal injuries caused by lacing her corset too tight.

But I guess that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Take the Efik Tribe of southern Nigeria, for example. Every girl of marriageable age is placed in a fattening hut. Depending on the affluence of her family, the bride-to-be might remain in the fattening hut for up to two years. During the fattening process (in this society fat is good; in fact, it's downright beautiful) she is compelled to eat vast quantities of fat-producing food such as pounded yams cooked in palm oil. She is not allowed to exert herself in any way (no tread mills or thigh masters here) and on no account must she perspire. (How this last feat can be accomplished while cooped up in a hut in 100-degree heat for a couple of years is beyond me). At the end of her seclusion, the prospective groom gets to view his beautiful, plump, young bride at a feast in her honor where she receives an assortment of gifts, including a dead chicken which she wears around her neck on her wedding day. In fact, an 18th century king of the Karagwe Tribe of Central Africa liked his wives to be so obese that they could not walk, but could only grovel on the floor like seals. (A condition I secretly fear could happen to me if I ever did give in to my inclination to eat only carbs.)

Although the objective should be good health instead of looking good, I secretly wish that I could take Diamond Jim Brady's attitude when it comes to eating habits. After he died in April 1917, a postmortem examination revealed that his stomach was six times the size of a normal man's. At a typical breakfast, Brady devoured vast quantities of hominy, eggs, cornbread, muffins, flap jacks, chops, fried potatoes and beef steak, washing it all down with a gallon of fresh orange juice. When he paused for a morning snack at 11:30, it consisted of two or three dozen clams or oysters. Not long afterwards, he downed the following for lunch: another serving of shellfish followed by two or three deviled crabs, a brace of boiled lobsters, a joint of beef, an enormous salad and several pieces of homemade pie. Afternoon tea was the occasion for another platter of seafood accompanied by two or three bottles of lemon soda. However, the highlight of his day was dinner. The first items on the menu were two or three dozen oysters, six crabs, and two bowls of green turtle soup. Then came six or seven lobsters, two canvas back ducks, a double portion of terrapin, sirloin steak, vegetables, and a platter of french pastries for dessert, which he topped off with two pounds of chocolate candy.

I'm secretly hoping that Ronnie will build me a fattening hut in the backyard for my birthday.

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