If you quote a Dickens character in a piece on weight loss drugs, don’t pick one who starves kids? ‹ Literary Hub

Olivia Rutigliano

February 27, 2023 at 3:11 pm

sigh. Let's dig deeper.

exist Matthew Schneier calls it “living after eating,” about a new weight-loss craze involving the injectable diabetes drug Ozempic. Ozempic, the brand name for the drug semaglutide, Mimics the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1, increasing the release of insulin and sLowers the amount of glucagon released by the body. It lowers blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. But if you're not, it only works as an appetite suppressant. And, according to the article, the drug — prescribed off-label or obtained surreptitiously — is a weight-loss trend of the moment because of its quick effects.

The article reports the facts, and then moves towards cultural criticism, trying to fully explain why our culture is still obsessed with being “thin” or is willing to spare no effort to pursue “thinness”, especially after the rise of the positive energy movement and the rise of the “slim body” movement. The masses worship non-skeletal role models. “Shouldn't we just move on?” the article asked. “Since the days when slenderness could be celebrated, courted or advertised with ease and simplicity, the body discussion has shifted.” The article attempted to point to the beginning of this shift in mindset, claiming that singer Adele was in fact The moment her weight-loss photos were released, the body-positive gloss was shattered. The article dropped that assumption and quickly jumped to other celebrity weight loss comparisons.

It seems to be the ambition of this essay to let the subject speak for itself—to present a story and then let the world judge them as the world sees fit. But it can be a dangerous approach when the subject matter is both covertly personal and drug-related. Although the article later noted that this phenomenon created a medical crisis for those who really needed the drug for diabetes or pre-diabetes, the article was more focused on reading thinness in the zeitgeist, commenting on what it means for us and our health The relationship between what food means and our understanding of appetite. It highlights how people can justify taking medication because it tells them about their history with food, endlessly citing their fears about their fear of regaining weight after stopping the medication.

This essay is not straightforward reportage; it is ultimately a thinkpiece. But it risks reaffirming a very pernicious mentality it claims has disappeared. Re-reading the title, “Life After Food,” suggests there is one. The page's banner image is of an ornate buffet table filled with silver-plated dishes in front of candlesticks, vases and a stuffed peacock. The entire exhibition area was covered with thick spider webs, eerie and undisturbed, as if it was Miss Havisham's wedding banquet. It's dramatic, flamboyant and gothic – a baroque, romantic picture of malnutrition.

but Satis House-esque aesthetics aren't the strangest or least subtle references in Dickens's essays. No no no.Towards the end of the first stanza, after introducing a young actress who has been off-brand She uses semaglutide herself and preps for her weekly injections, and insists that not having to detox or worry about losing weight helps manage her anxiety, and there's an even weirder, unexpected literary allusion. This is paragraph.

In other words, profound, possibly unprecedented changes may be afoot. After all, isn't appetite what drives us? us, good or bad? “Curb your appetite, my dear, and you have conquered humanity,” Mr. Squires, Dickens's teacher of philosophy, said to the young Nicholas Nickleby. Of course, his mouth was “stuffed with beef and toast” at the time.

Yes, this is a reference to Charles Dickens' graphic novel from 1838-39 Nicholas Nickleby, There, in an essay on recreational hunger – no doubt to inject some wit, some erudition, some literary criticism (??) into the essay, turning it from report to reflection. As we From the anecdote of this poor actress who insisted on taking drugs that her body didn't need, and into a more serious discussion of the phenomenon, let's pause for a moment to discuss the nature of “appetite” and the long-standing human desire for desire. Eternal thoughts. Tame its unrulyness. After all, in Dickens' truth.

The problem is, that sentence doesn't belong here.or, let me say, it should Not part of this film. Mr. Wackford Squeers, the “philosophical” figure quoted here, is one of Dickens's most villainous characters. A sinister headmaster and all-around con man, Squeers beats and starves young boys boarded at his boarding school, the aptly named Dotheboys Hall. He took money to make sure the boys were well fed, and then paid out of his own pocket to allow the family to live in luxury. He doted on his children and kept his students from eating proper food. He whipped them hard.

“Curb your appetite, dear, you have conquered humanity,” he told five young boys, while (as Schneier Note) Eat “beef and toast”.But what Schneier leaves out is that he is torturing his students while he is speaking; not only when acting in contradictory ways, but also when eating Their food. He addresses them by number (rather than name), allows them to drink from the same cup, and tells them when to switch. What's in the glass? A glass of milk, but he didn't want to spend too much on the children, so he poured two pennies worth of milk and mixed it with warm water. The boys “watched him with tense eyes, the torment of anticipation” as he gobbled it up. Then, Squires”[divides] The bread and butter for three is divided into as many portions as the children,” so each boy gets 3/5 of a portion of food. As for that sentence, he is making something up to justify his mistreatment of children.

Why is this important? Aside from suggesting that the reporter Googled “quotes about appetite” to find a word that seemed restrained enough to insert into this article, it's ironic to include that sentence, as well as mislabel Squeers as ” The “philosophy” tag is actually very useful in revealing the essence of the article, itself. If you were going to quote a writer in an essay that didn't scathingly criticize “The Hunger,” it probably shouldn't be Dickens. If you're going to mention a character, especially if you're trying to make a thoughtful point, you shouldn't be mentioning Mr. Squeers. If, in all of Dickens's novels, there is one character whose abuse of power leads to widespread starvation, it is probably Mr. Squires.

All of Dickens' novels are about abuse (especially working class and children), but Nicholas Nickleby, An early novel by Dickens, written when he was 26, was very concerned with this theme. Sent to work in a shoe shine factory at age 12, Dickens finished his studies three years later before becoming a journalist, writing about London's busiest and poorest neighbourhoods. His novels (especially the early ones) are filled with contempt for dispossessed workers and child abusers.

Nicholas Nickleby Almost entirely about stingy businessmen making and enforcing rules that only serve them, it fancifully gives all these bad guys their comeuppance. Squeers in particular, whose cruelty drives his employee Nicholas to the breaking point. After Squeers whips Nicholas' friend, young drug dealer Smike, so violently, Nicholas grabs Squeers and beats him so repeatedly and creatively that Nicholas has to run away. Squires spends the rest of the novel obsessed with getting revenge on Nicholas. He is not a philosopher.

He is not the main villain of the novel. But he's a man who enforces and perpetuates roles that abusive society doesn't care about. His presence in the article, mistaken for a thoughtful figure, is a sign of the carelessness that runs through the whole thing.

Articles like this one, taking on the task of representing the worrisome and debilitating body image issues in our culture, should not represent a drug mass starvation craze, but — lest they contribute to the problems they report. Journalistic responsibility is important, and giving a platform to those who try risky, experimental technologies as they strive to have what society calls their preferred body type is dangerous, even careless. Repeating what the anonymous actress said at the beginning of the article – she said “‘We don't talk about it, but everyone knows it. Thinness is power'” as an explanation of why she had to subject herself to such treatments – eventually put them stored in our collective consciousness.

Revealing how many people are at the mercy of hegemonic beauty standards doesn't debunk them, nor overthrow them. Unfortunately, such businesses can participate in the maintenance of these standards. If anything, this post treats its subject as an exclusive, much-needed, effortless beauty treatment, tried by people who are happy to accept the consequences.

Mr. Squires is content to perpetuate and even create mass famines. While this article attempts to find a journalistic middle ground, it certainly doesn't take a … anti-Squires approach. Of course, the function of a report must be factual and non-judgmental, but articles are not like that. It's underqualified, barely enough discussed about its medical consequences, barely analyzed enough as “slimming,” the most recent beauty fad in human history, to be considered an appropriate journalistic response anyway. Even the title “Life After Food” suggests that food is not necessary for survival, or even quality of life.

it is. Both. Just ask Dickens.

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