Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age
Weight isn’t neutral. A woman’s body isn’t neutral. A woman’s body is everyone’s business but her own. Even in our attempts to free one another, we were still trying to tell one another what to want and what to do. It is terrible to tell people to try to be thinner; it is also terrible to tell them that wanting to lose weight is hopeless and wrong.
Here is where the Trump administration’s willful ignorance plays a role. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gains without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing those costs. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is a downside to knowledge. It makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview.
“Youth culture can see through anything they think is inauthentic,” Ms. Greene said. And because followers have what at least seems to be direct access to their “friend” on Twitter or Instagram, they can respond directly. Also publicly.
To be a minority in 21st-century North America is not simply to exist in a comfortable mixture, but is instead to be engaged in a constant dance. To be seen by those like you is to be rendered inscrutable to those who are different. You are thus constantly immersed in a process of translation, at times going on at length to explain to others that you aren’t that different, but at other moments struggling to explain you aren’t quite the same either.
A good life for Mill, post-madness, is not one where you have queued before the slot machine of utility and got the candy it dispenses. It is one where you have gone out into the world to build the best self you can—travelled where you wanted and seen what you could and said what you had to, sung your own songs and heard your own poems.
What’s striking about that 2012 letter, read through the prism of 2017, is its certainty that a more “open and connected” world is by definition a better one. “When I started Facebook, the idea of connecting the world was not controversial,” Zuckerberg said now. “The default assumption was that the world was incrementally just moving in that direction. So I thought we can connect some people and do our part in helping move in that direction.” But now, he said, whether it was wise to connect the world was “actually a real question.”
Imagine how easy it would be to idolize someone who so regularly can be counted upon to reframe your personal Overton Window — the category of what you think is unthinkable — to include things you wouldn’t have said six months ago, every six months. It’s a wonderful feeling, of liberation and transgression, and it never ends: What gave you a thrill now sounds commonplace, everyone is saying it, everyone has normalized it, and we need to move on to something else. Something worse, or else nobody will pay attention.