What We Don't Need to Talk About Now or Ever: "the Sandy 15"

Shaming hurricane victims for not dieting shows us how deeply problematic our discussion about eating and health has become

Hurricane Sandy caused more than one hundred deaths. For those left behind there were lost loved ones, homes, possessions and power. Some are still living in shelters or homes without basic services. There are questions about how to help people who have Diabetes and other health issues who need access to specific foods.

But Samantha Critchell, a fashion writer for the Associated Press, wants to remind hurricane victims that food shortages and power outages are no excuse for forgetting to be thin.

In her piece for AP, she shares the “tragic” story of a woman who went to the grocery store with “good intentions” of buying cucumbers, but ended up with -- gasp -- chips and salsa because the massive hurricane had affected food availability and that was all that was left.

She also talks about how “Even fitness trainer Simone de la Rue gave into a burger, french fries and margarita on Tuesday -- for lunch, no less.” The horror! Luckily, I was assured later down the article that she was also streaming workout videos on her iPad.

For all the unfortunate souls who don’t have iPads, she found a dietician (who has obviously never heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) to suggest that people scrub something in their house vigorously to burn calories, and remember that next time they should have some low-sodium bean based soup handy. Good call?

The level of fat hysteria that exists in our culture is already completely ridiculous, but this is a new low. People are literally dumpster diving for food, but let’s make sure that those with food to eat are ashamed of it, and more ashamed if they don’t overcome their emotions and tragedies to scrub something in their house.

One good thing that could come out of Hurricane Sandy is that Ms. Critchell’s article could show us how far over the line we’ve gone when it comes to confusing healthy habits with a relationship with food that is built on what specialists consider disordered eating. Maybe we could start a conversation about food without the concepts of morality -- guilt, good, bad, evil, sinful. Maybe we can encourage people to eat and move in ways that make their bodies feel good rather than just ways that purport to make them thin. The first step is admitting that you have a problem and I submit that since someone thought it was a good idea to write about The Sandy 15, and someone else thought it was a good idea to publish it…my friends -- we have a problem.

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