by Anna Rita Mazzoli
Biologist and nutritionist

Spring, Summer ...time to go on a diet?!

When the fine weather arrives, combined with the budding of nature in our magnificent countryside, the media starts bombarding us with messages and advice on "how to lose all those awful extra kilos" and "get back your former figure". Today this problem effects a great many people and is a reflection of the lifestyle in the Western world where the individual lives an always more sedentary life in an environment that is surrounded by food and the temptation to eat it. This is a new situation in the long history of man, whose organism has up until now developed accompanied by the continuous uncertainty and precariousness of food resources. Added to this, there has been a study and idealization without precedence of the perfect figure in most Western countries, in particular over the past fifty years. Magazines show photographs of young and very young women who are beautifully slim and fit. Fat is "forbidden", although it is also an essential component of our organisms. In a few words, the ideal model is a physical structure that is biologically impossible for most women to obtain.

The Venus of Willendorf statuette in the Cambridge Archeological Museum (G.B.)
dated 25.000-10.000 B.C.
The natural succession of the various periods of life, from youth, maturity, to old age, is completely ignored and youth alone is exalted as an ideal. In other words: "we must stay young forever and this can only be done with the help of discipline, strength of mind, the right product and money". What relationship is there between this glorification of the perfect figure and the new part women are now taking on in society? After all "fatness" seems to be associated with more feminine characteristics, especially those connected with reproduction. Is it only by chance that it is talked about as "surplus" in this society which considers productivity to be far more important than fecundity? I would like to conclude by showing you an extremely ancient statuette, the Venus of Willendorf, that dates from the early Paleolithc Ages, which would be considered dreadfully overweight in this day and age. The beauty of its rounded forms helps us forget our present day obsession with having a slim figure at all costs and reminds us how much more important it is to be healthy while also doing our best to create a more serene relationship with our own bodies.

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