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“Study for Woman Churning Butter”, 1855, by Jean-François Millet



It seems unlikely that the Standpoint demographic is familiar with the eccentric children’s cartoon Adventure Time. There is a supporting character, Lumpy Space Princess (known as LSP for short) — a purple, floating being shaped like a child’s drawing of a cloud. She has, ordinarily, rock-solid confidence: extremely proud of her lumps, disdainful of “smooth posers”. But when the Nice King (the villainous Ice King in disguise) calls her “too loud and lumpy . . . I like smooth princesses,” she cries out. “I can be smooth! Punch out my lumps! . . . I can be whatever he wants! I can change!” and proceeds to punch herself into a perfect sphere. The next time we see her she has popped back to her normal lumpy shape.

I think of LSP whenever the “detox” season rolls around — suddenly, in January, we are too loud and lumpy. On Instagram, the Kardashian-Jenners continually promote “FitTea”, a detox tea, which promises to reduce “bloating”; Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website Goop provides a “detox” plan which does sounds like real food — this year’s has roasted kabocha squash soup, halibut with lentils, buckwheat soba noodle salad, kale with salsa verde — but which is based around large and sometimes arbitrary-seeming restrictions: “just say no to: alcohol, caffeine, added sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and nightshades (white, blue, red, and yellow potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant).”

Goop sometimes seems rather in favour of eating things which really aren’t food: the site sells subscriptions to vitamin supplements at $75 per month; an article on nontoxic hair dye describes a male stylist taking a scoop of it and eating it “as if it were chocolate pudding.” “It isn’t . . . delicious, but it’s not bad,” he says. “That it’s non-toxic enough to stave off lunch for a few hours was amazing,” says our author.

 So many things on Goop are “amazing”, “a f*%king [sic] miracle” (minced oaths are everywhere), “potent”, etc. I once bought soap recommended on Goop which was said to be inspired by “the modern-day female shamans of Korea”.

It’s hard to shake the impression that you’re meant to be guilty about eating at all. A terrific pastiche of Goop came from Mary Cella at the website The Hairpin (which announced it was closing down last month): “The worst possible thing you could ever do for your body is eat food. You see, the concept of food was actually created by Western medicine . . . A good rule of thumb for something like olive oil is that it’s perfectly healthy as long as you don’t enjoy it.”
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