Perfection not found in diets for NU student

Kate Rawsthorne Column

Have you seen “Smallville,” the television show about Superman’s high school years? A recent commercial advertised Superman wanting to join the football team. The 30-second trailer sparked a huge revelation: It must kind of suck to be Superman.

Who wants to guard a receiver that can fly in the air to catch a ball? If you can’t shoot the guy, there’s hardly a chance for a successful sack attempt. Nobody would choose to play in a pick-up game with Superman.

His other option would be to not play as well as he could; he could blend in with the mortals, perhaps sneaking in an “unbelievable” diving catch here and there. Would that be much better? True, there would be other people on the field unlike in the first scenario, but still, it’s like playing a game with your little brother. You have to let him win, and frankly, that takes a lot of the fun out of it.

I guess as Superman grew up he reconciled trading the ability to play sports for the ability to save thousands of lives, but that’s hard to accept for a teenager who just wants to be cool. And it makes you think. For what kind of perfection do people aim, why do they want it, and at what cost does it come?

What is perfection for women age 18 to 25? Too often, it’s being skinny. Upwards of 80 percent of college-age women have been on a diet, according to a a widely quoted statistic.

A plethora of choices exist for dieting: the Beverly Hills, High Protein, Jenny Craig, Scarsdale, Pritkin, Shakes, Atkins, Fat Flush, the Zone and Somersizing, to name a few.

Where is all this dieting getting us? A Web site called “Beyond Dieting” by Rhonda Zabrodski, a registered clinical social worker, had a lot to say. First: “Genetics may preclude some people from being thin.” Obviously, but do we ever embrace it? Thin won’t get you far in most things. And besides, different body types allow us to excel in different areas and ways.

Second: “Severe dieting is not healthy both physically and emotionally.” On a diet, you constantly think about the food you can’t eat. That wastes energy you are low on already.

Third: “Obsessing about dieting and thinness can get in the way of leading a normal life.” Have you ever avoided a social situation because you didn’t want to eat?

And for shock value: “Starvation levels of food in third-world countries are considered to be less than 1,300 calories per day. Most diet programs encourage an average caloric intake from anywhere between 500 to 1,300 calories daily.” How many college-age women technically are starving themselves?

I am not claiming to be beyond these concerns. I am in the boat with the large majority of women, which is precisely the problem. We, meaning all women, are really in this together. Until we stop buying into the images, they will never change. It’s time we look at this goal of thinness and where it might really be getting us. It’s a circular goal, anyway. Why do we want to be so skinny? What does it really accomplish besides just that, being skinny? And perfection, unfortunately, may not be all it is cracked up to be.