The grocery store is one of those public spaces that should be judgmentally sacred, where people can feel absolutely free to show up appearing harried, underdressed, or angrier than a bee trapped in some asshole's bonnet without fear that the saucer-eyed fellow comparing brands of smoked salmon is taking mental notes about his fellow shoppers' general slovenliness and drawing a big conclusion about what this means for society. Unfortunately, author and observer of humanity Stephen J. Betchen, Ph.D. thank you very much, violated the grocery store's sacredness last week when he wrote about how the ladies in his grocery store are getting way too obese and wearing far too many "loosely fitted, designer track suits." It's fine, though, because it's not their fault, according to Betchen — if only their menfolk would flirt with them a little more often, Stephen J. Betchen, Ph.D., buyer of perfectly symmetrical, unmarred, vegetarian eggs could shop in aesthetic peace.
Betchen does a masterful job of transcribing a conversation he must have had with himself in his car on the way home from the grocery store, beginning with this harrowing anecdote about how his shopping experience was positively curdled by all the unconscionably obese women — never you trouble yourself about the men — prowling around the aisles:
I paid a visit to my local supermarket last evening and I was astounded by the shapes and sizes of some of my fellow female shoppers. I'm usually in a rush and have little time to gaze at others but this time was different. Given my early start I was afforded a leisurely shopping experience during which time I noticed that several of the women were obese by any standards. Even more disturbing, many appeared to range in age from their late twenties to early forties-and most with beautiful faces. I'm sure many of the men were overweight, but I'll deal with them another time.
Gah! Not only does Betchen's grocery store contain too many obese women, it contains too many obese young women, and that's a shame because Betchen sounds like something of a lurker. Here he thought he could take his time at the store and leer at all the pretty young women, but, wouldn't you know, the store was nothing but a sea of disturbingly obese faces. Even though Betchen is up on all the latest obesity epidemic news, his evening trip to the store was punch-in-the-stomach shocking:
But this night held impact. In fact, the more attention I paid to my surroundings, the sadder and more confused I became. The experience also caused me concern—not just for the health of these women, but for the health of their relationships.
Not only is Stephen Betchen super — maybe even superhumanly — observant, he's got loads of empathy, which as it just so happens is a low-calorie alternative to pity. If women are overweight, their relationships are going to suffer because everyone has the same standard of beauty that Stephen Betchen has, and, I have to tell you, Stephen Betchen has very discriminating tastes.
Men, explains Betchen, are really to blame for all the "obese" women he's been seeing at the grocery store lately. Even though every individual flower of a human being bears the burden of living in austere, Spartan dignity by keeping themselves trim and fulfilling their daily quota of fifty pull-ups, flowers have to be watered, and, unless you're on acid, flowers can't water themselves. Betchen continues,
Medical conditions aside, it's pretty easy to blame some of these women for their poor eating habits and lack of self-discipline, but aren't their male counterparts culpable as well. One of the most disturbing things I see in couples/sex therapy is men-especially married men— who rarely, if ever, attempt to make their wives feel sexy. Sure, they might relentlessly pursue for sex, but what about the space between? During the work week how many men compliment their partners? How many attempt to seduce them? How many use verbal foreplay? Hell, many men still neglect physical foreplay. I'm not talking about buying flowers, I'm talking flirtation.
Betchen then offers a little seduction/flirtation tutorial, which involves a lot of complimenting, touching, and spontaneity. Spontaneous touching, let's say. Betchen assures us that his commentary "is not meant to address large woman, many of whom are very sexy," adding that he believes "there can be a distinction between large and obese." There is a whole, sweeping desert plain of bleached bones one could pick with Betchen, including his willingness to simultaneously deride women for not meeting his aesthetic weight requirements and take agency away from them, and his unwillingness to discuss obese men. A person's — any person's — weight is his or her own business. It's not a morsel of anecdotal proof that strangers can drop in conversations to prove that they keep up with current events and know, personally, how obese America is becoming. Judging someone else's romantic, exercise, or epicurean habits by a grocery store fly-by, moreover, can never be cloaked by empathy — it's always judgment and, if Betchen really had any empathy, he'd realize that no one likes it when some jerk sizes them up in the grocery store.
Female Obesity: It's Not All Her Fault [Psychology Today]
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