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Ogden Nash Poem on Dieting

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I've been reading a collection of New Yorker essays and this poem just spoke to me. I can't believe how well it describes a woman's obsession with their weight. I thought my spark buddies would enjoy it too.

Curl Up and Diet

Some ladies smoke too much and some ladies drink too much and some ladies pray too much,
But all ladies think that they weigh too much.
They may be as slender as a sylph or a dryad,
But just let them get on the scales and they embark on a doleful jeremiad:
No matter how low the figure the needle happens to touch,
They always claim it is at least five pounds too much;
To the world she may appear slinky and feline,
But she inspects herself in the mirror and cries, Oh, I look like a sea lion.
Yes, she tells you she is growing into the shape of a sea cow or manatee,
And if you say No, my dear, she says you are just lying to make her feel better, and if you say Yes, my dear, you injure her vanity.
Once upon a time there was a girl more beautiful and witty and charming than tongue can tell,
And she is now a dangerous raving maniac in a padded cell,
And the first indication her friends and relatives had that she was mentally overwrought
Was one day when she said, I weigh a hundred and twenty-seven, which is exactly what I ought.
Oh, often I am haunted
By the thought that somebody might someday discover a diet that would let ladies reduce just as much as they wanted,
Because I wonder if there is a woman in the world strong-minded enough to shed ten pounds or twenty,
And say There now, that’s plenty;
And I fear me one ten-pound loss would only arouse the craving for another,
So it wouldn’t do any good for ladies to get their ambition and look like somebody’s fourteen-year-old brother,
Because, having accomplished this with ease,
They would next want to look like somebody’s fourteen-year-old brother in the final stages of some obscure disease,
And the more success you have the more you want to get of it,
So then their goal would be to look like somebody’s fourteen-year-old brother’s ghost, or rather not the ghost itself, which is fairly solid, but a silhouette of it,
So I think it is very nice for ladies to be lithe and lissome.
But not so much so that you cut yourself if you happen to embrace or kissome.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
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    1121 days ago
    This is emblematic of why we love The New Yorker so much! Thank you - topical 'n' timely, as they say!
    1261 days ago
    Thanks for sharing this! Love it! Love The New Yorker!
    1447 days ago
    I LOVE POETRY don't you???
    Thanks for sharing!!!
    1447 days ago
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    1465 days ago
    We are such perverse creatures, aren't we? That was great. (We're also pretty predictable!)
    1474 days ago
    So, so true. And probably not just for women, either.
    1474 days ago
    Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading!
    In the past 4 years I'm content with my weight and my looks, but I have to admit in the past I was very much like the women in the poem.
    1475 days ago
    is it just women who are like this? I don't know, but I **do** know that the majority of women ALWAYS have something they want to change about their physical selves.
    If they have straight hair, they want curls.
    If they have curls, they want straight hair.
    If they are petite, they want to be taller.
    If they are tall, they want to be shorter.
    Bigger boobs, smaller boobs, longer hair, shorter hair, lighter skinned, more tanned, etc, etc, etc

    self-improvement is a life long process, I get it. But we need to appreciate our individuality and focus our desire for change on more important things than 'vanity'.

    I'm just as guilty of this as most women. Get to a mid-range healthy BMI, and I want to decrease body fat % - REALLY? (I wasn't 'skinny fat'. I just wanted to be less 'jiggly') Why couldn't I appreciate being at a healthy weight? When I get there again, hopefully I have learned to appreciate it!
    1475 days ago
    Love this - thanks for sharing
    1475 days ago
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